Some you will know, and some you won’t. If you are hoping to apply some more structure or make better use of your time, then these will help, plus save you having to track or manage everything from your email.
Keep in touch with colleagues
Both deliver a solid service for very different needs.
Zoom is typically for business and allows you to bring the whole team together at the same time via video. However, only one person can talk at a time so conversation can be stalled. We’d suggest having a chat leader who can make sure everyone gets their say.
Houseparty is aimed at families and friends but is also great for smaller groups and team bonding exercises thanks to their free games function. Bear in mind that if you want to make sure Aunt Linda doesn’t jump in on your chat that you must lock the room once everyone is in. Make sure your team know what time to be around and invite them into your Houseparty chat.
Ensure projects stay on track
There are a STAGGERING number of project management apps available. Most offer a free trial, and some provide a level for individuals or small teams at low cost. In our experience, each of these were built with a focus on different things (time keeping, messaging, project control) and do have their specific strengths. The main ones are Monday, Trello and Slack. All of these are strong platforms.
Monday has really ramped up over the last few months by showcasing their visual planner tool which makes organising yourself very easy and possibly is a better way to make sure you are engaging your staff in the process. However, It’s pricey once the free trial ends.
Trello is MY personal favourite. Firstly, because it is free. Plus, the easy drag and drop card format makes creating lists and assigning them (with as much or as little detail as you want) simple to do. This platform is a great option for teams. You can set access levels and keep projects separate from others.
Slack is thorough and used by some huge brands –there’s lots of functionality on there you won’t necessarily need if you just want to apply more structure to your day and tasks BUT great to work up to if using a PM tool is something you plan to carry one once you are back in the office.
Asana is really easy to use so is a good place to start if you are new to this form of project management. Accessing it on your phone is also pretty good (compared with others, the layout is simple and easy to navigate).
Casual was recommended to me by an ops team as it lays out the tasks in a workflow format which feels familiar and so is easier to use.
If you are looking for a more traditional version – Microsoft project is tried and tested but has a spreadsheet feel so not all that friendly and could be intimidating for staff members that are unfamiliar in working this way.
FYI – Most allow you to share documents within your team so if you only plan to share with colleagues (rather than several other individuals) then it’s worth looking at a PM system over a file sharing one.
Schedule your social to save time
If you need to be really smart with your time while balancing kids and work, a really useful tool would be a social scheduler – it will allow you to write, plan and schedule all of your posts in one go so all you need to do is check in on your accounts to keep on top of messages and mentions. Personally, it’s also a great way to really PLAN social activity rather than try to fire out a post a day erratically in between calls and tantrums.
Some of the platforms out there work to support specific social channels over others and Instagram is generally an entity in itself. The rule is, if it’s free there will be some compromise (you are limited on number of posts for example) and if it’s a great service then you’ll pay for it. In some cases through the nose.
Postify is free, easy to use and incredibly simple. You can connect all of your accounts but are limited on the FREE version to a small number of posts so you would need to go in every few days to do it.
Later is free for individuals – which means you can have one profile (main channels) per platform and you could run a post a day for a month (ish). The plus version offers a lot more for a small amount a month.
On the other end of the scale you have sprout social which is very expensive but makes sure you can deliver a professional service. It’s particularly useful if you have multiple brands you need to maintain. It’s analytics function is fantastic.
Share files securely
Every team will have a number of files they’ll need to share at some point and if the file is too big then your email will crash or it’ll end up in junk. To avoid this, it’s important to use a reputable, tried and tested file sharing platform to confidently protect documentation and ensure delivery.
The landscape of this service is huge. Ranging from ‘homemade’ services (not recommended) to global enterprise level. In a nutshell you are looking for a happy medium and the tool you decide upon will be determined by how you expect to use it. Consider whether it will be just internal (in which case, see my earlier comment about a PM system) or needing to send files to customers and or other 3rd parties securely.
Dropbox is great but costs a minimum £10.00 per month, even if you set up as an individual. It’s great because of its capacity and range of functionality including multi log in access for teams. Its also very well established so is trusted.
We transfer is free and you don’t need to hold an account to do it, but in order to be sustainable they offer a PRO version means you can load more and larger files and also set time limits on how long they are available for. Basically, you can offer a more professional service as you can also apply your own domain name so it is added to the link and track downloads.
Box is a PM system that has a starter pack that includes doc sharing from £3.80 a month which is great, but you cannot share outside of your teams.
For simpler docs, you can create and share what you need to in Googledocs. It’s very simple and allows you to keep track of what you are doing. Many teams were moving their file creation over to this even before the global crisis because of its simple to use format and security.
Some other helpful tools….
Graphics, posters, leaflets : Canva is a FANTASTIC FREE tool for design so you can get your graphics and images done. They have a huge range of templates and images / styles / icons etc that you can use to whip up professional imagery when you don’t have access to your normal source. Vistaprint is a reliable printer but always look locally as our community businesses really need our work right now!
Keeping the team motivated: If you are concerned about how to keep your team energised and engaged, you could invest in a team management and support program such as Perkbox. For a small fee a month you can give your team exclusive offers and money off vouchers for familiar brands and share news of their success and provide rewards.
Keep track of your time: If you need to log what projects you are working on informally, Clockify is a useful tool that is free to all. You can create projects and set timers to keep you focused and provide a detail of your efforts back to your team if you need to.
Note: Monday and other PM systems also offer this.
Finally, Alexa. My new personal assistant. She does research, finds appropriate articles for me to listen to and keeps me on track throughput the day. She is most useful in that I can set alarms for meetings, deadlines, task deadlines
Good luck in your efforts to #keepcommercemoving during the crisis. Please contact us if you have any additional suggestions you think we should include!
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The team at Shout About Suffolk are taking every precaution to ensure their members stay safe and healthy during this crisis.
If you are struggling to keep your start up ticking over, please contact us at any time on info@shoutaboutsuffolk, we will come right back to you with any advice and support we are able to offer. Or visit the government website for Covid-19 support for businesses.