Fuel business continuity while COVID-19 restrictions are in effectPublished on 22 March 2020
COVID-19 radically transforms the way businesses operate and individuals work for the foreseeable future. As the government amplifies efforts to control this growing pandemic by mandating stay-at-home measures and social distancing through the Movement Control Order (MCO), companies have implemented emergency work-from-home (WFH) protocols accordingly.
But did you know that Malaysians have been managing their businesses remotely even before the COVID-19 outbreak? The 2013 Regus Global Economic Indicator revealed that Malaysians were already significantly above the global average for flexible working: 53% of Malaysian executives already worked flexibly for at least half the week, compared to 48% globally.
61% of Malaysian companies already used efficiency-monitoring reporting systems, almost twice the global average of 37%. 65% of Malaysian remote managers already used video conferencing with their teams, way ahead of the 43% global statistic.
However, those inexperienced with remote management might find the transition from leading at a physical location to organising a scattered workforce challenging. If you are managing full-time remote staff for the first time, here are the top tech tools to help keep your WFH team connected:
1. Microsoft Teams for remote communication
Microsoft Teams is a business tool that has instant messaging, scheduling, note-taking, video conferencing, file sharing and more capabilities. Its integrated interface satisfies all your remote management communication needs on one platform.
On Teams, users can create private group chats, assign each other tasks, schedule meetings or share schedules or project timelines so that they are visible to all team members. It integrates automatically with Office 365, so users can work seamlessly from anywhere.
2. Microsoft Outlook for emailing
Microsoft Outlook is part of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of applications. It allows users to sort emails into files or categories. Outlook also has a calendar function which can be used to access team members’ schedules to check the best time for a meeting, without having to go through the slow process of asking each team member one by one and breaking social distancing rules.
3. Slack for team communication
Slack is Microsoft Teams’ main competitor. Before Teams, Slack was the dominant team chat tool and Microsoft almost bought it for US$8 billion. However, Bill Gates decided to revamp Skype for Business instead and Microsoft Teams was born.
Both have similar functions and capabilities, but the main difference is that Slack integrates with a larger variety of applications whereas Teams just has excellent integration with other applications in the Office 365 suite. Slack counts NASA, BuzzFeed and eBay as some of their most famous customers.
4. Asana for project management
Asana is another tool designed to improve work management and collaboration. While the previous tools concentrate on communication and chat functions, Asana focuses on tracking a project’s lifecycle from beginning to end. Its intuitive user interface allows managers to create dashboards for their teams and monitor uploaded work in real time.
It also allows users to create multiple workspaces and simultaneously work on shared documents. Asana organises to-do lists, meeting notes and conversations so that workers can complete projects more efficiently from the comfort of their own homes.
5. Toggl for time tracking
One of the main disadvantages of working from home is that distractions abound — from your bed beckoning invitingly just a metre away to your children demanding attention at all hours; it can be a challenge to stay disciplined and manage your time wisely. Toggl is a tool that helps teams track their working hours so they can see how long they spent on breaks or on certain projects. Its reporting function allows line managers to track their teams’ productivity, all from a safe distance.
Thanks to ubiquitous portable technology and connectivity, we are all able to work at great distances from each other and remain smoothly connected with our teams and management. Managers must now rise to new challenges and integrate the best technology tools into their routines to keep productivity, discipline, and morale high in this time of crisis. With these tools, it’s perfectly possible for managers and their teams to stay as productive as they were in the office.
Remember, the MCO is for everyone’s benefit. Stay home and stay healthy!
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