October 1, 2014 Garyeoghan

Remote Control: Apps for working anywhere

‘I can’t make it in today, I’ve got X,Y & Z’

It’s a phrase that was once a death knell for productivity in the workplace. Here at Boyd Digital we absolutely hate the idea of not being productive. We’d rather chop our thumbs off than twiddle with them. That is why we’re always on the lookout to make our workflow as efficient as possible.

Why would we need or want to do this? Imagine a scenario where someone can’t physically make it in to work, but still needs to. It could be that the weather is bad in winter and the trains are off (which has happened). It could be that someone is under the weather and a day on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle will do more harm than good (which will happen). It could be that someone has to look after the kids last minute. It could be that someone has to travel somewhere (which has happened to me going back to Ireland once or twice).

In an industry where everything is focussed upon working online, it sort of doesn’t make sense to have important data tied down to one machine. Thats why we’ve been slowly adapting our work into a cloud focussed basis where everyone can work practically anywhere at any time. How do we manage this? By using some very good apps to get the job done.

So when one of us is coming out of a client meeting in London, while another is in their house and someone is in the office and we’re all working on the same doc, we use apps like these to make changes instantly, rather than over the course of a day of back to back messaging.

skype

Skype
Every Monday morning the whole office gets together to discuss how everything has gone over the previous week, what we’re individually doing over the week, how our clients are performing and what the big events are that week. When one of us is working off site or at home, we don’t have to come back to the office not knowing what’s going on. Skyping in to the catchup has eliminated the most popular question and answer you’ll hear in any meeting: ‘Has X done this yet? No idea, we won’t know until they’re back in.’

what hipchat looks like

Hipchat
Now we did use Skype previously for group chats, but it would often become too muddled up and confusing to grab relevant info when you’d been searching through a few hundred messages a day. After looking at a few different chat apps, we found Hipchat and it instantly made communicating a bazillion percent easier. We could create individual chat rooms for every client, share documents easily and highlight relevant links too. It also has the best emoticons available anywhere.

google drive

Google Drive
Sometimes when different members of the team have to band together to get a job done, tracking who has done what and when can cause headaches. We always use Google Drive for any tasks like this as we can see in real-time what is being done and leave comments on any work we’re having trouble with. We can’t imagine ever going back to a time when someone would fill in a bit of an excel sheet, save it, another person reopen it, edit it again, save it, and keep passing along that chain for eternity.

dropbox works

Dropbox
‘Have you got that presentation handy?’
‘Yeah, I emailed it a few minutes ago’
*Check inbox, nothing new*
The ultimate pain when you need a document from someone else five minutes ago, sharing files also slows down progress. We used to have a central hard drive here in the office, but have moved everything over to a Dropbox account that any member of the team can access anywhere. It has been a godsend. We’re able to edit work in an instant, post a link to it in Hipchat, comment on what edits to make, make those edits and the previous link will work for that new version. Dropbox is so easy for us to work together with that its almost too good.

Now these are just the main apps we use. There are others we might have to switch to from time to time (hello landlines) but these four have provided the foundations for us to be able to work much more freely and not be restricted to one machine.

 

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