Win Over Corona Virus: Best Work-from-Home Tools & Strategies for Entrepreneurs & Professionals


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I’m writing this article in the hopes of helping my fellow entrepreneurs & professionals in overcoming the recent Corona Virus scare that forced countries to go on lockdown and forced most businesses to send their key staff & teams home for work.

To give you a brief background of myself, I am an operations executive at a Mergers & Acquisitions advisory firm (business brokers/ advisors). We have deals all over the world and therefore work remotely almost 90% of the time.

Having been a remote worker or semi-digital nomad since 2015 and having owned and operated an outsourcing firm, I have amassed a plethora of tips & best practices to thrive in the world of digital workspaces.

Here are my top 10 tips & strategies on how to launch and optimize your remote work environment:

Tool Tip # 1: Keep passwords organized using LastPass

Have you ever written down your password somewhere and lost it? Do you frequently click that “forgot your password” link on a website? Do you store your passwords on your phone’s notes and struggle to scroll through them when you look for one? Do you find it hard or annoying to share your passwords with friends and colleagues? Have you ever been hacked because you don’t have security measures in place?

I’m pretty sure you said yes to one of those questions. If so, LastPass is for you. Passwords are quickly captured from desktop browser to phone automatically. When you open LastPass on your phone, you never have to remember a password, all you have to do is use your finger. Every single person who works in my company is required to open a LastPass account as a part of our onboarding process. Sharing passwords is only done through LastPass and is done with a click of a button. We never waste any time looking for passwords, it’s done almost instantly. Since we are in the deals business and we have been hacked in the past, we have an extra layer of security measures in place to ensure every person within the company is secure. LastPass offers you a free password check-up to gauge whether your passwords are strong enough. Since I own a business with many accounts, I have almost 300 passwords on my LastPass account. I have the ability to generate a security report on all these passwords and get a list of items to optimize with just one click of a button.

Tool Tip #2: Ditch Your Desktop Apps and switch to Google

One of the best business decisions I have ever made is I have funneled all my office operating systems into Google. My office suite is entirely on the cloud. Having this protocol in place, everyone in my company enjoys ease of sharing files and collaboration. We don’t do anything on paper, we don’t save anything on our desktops, everything is saved on the cloud and owned by the company.

Google is also so robust and there are a lot of options available that people don’t even know of. Do you know you can create custom dashboards using Google Sites for a fraction of the cost of what it would take for a developer to get done? This DIY feature is so incredible, I can’t even express it in words! There are still so many use-cases for Google tools out there, the opportunities are endless. So, how much does one user seat at GSuite cost? $5 per month. Need I say more?

Tool Tip # 3: Get Your Digital Backbone Organized Beautifully on Confluence

This image is the actual Operations Confluence Space for my company. This space ( Spaces are Confluence’s way of organizing content into meaningful categories) is still under development but this space already houses several of our Operations Department initiatives, tasks, directories, surveys, and workflows. I can’t stop raving about Confluence because it has worked wonders for my company. Think about Confluence like this, it is your internal company handbook, internal knowledge base, internal wiki and your directory for everything company-related. From a visual perspective, it’s like you’re creating a beautiful blog page for every department, task, or project.

Everything about my company is on Confluence. All the how-to’s, all the scripts, all the best practices, all the process & roadmaps, all in that one central place! If any team member is struggling to find information about anything, all they have to do is to click search on Confluence and they can find the answer at length.

Confluence comes handy for the Human Resources department. We have a page for these HR concerns that every team member at one point of being employed in my company asks for :

Onboarding Information

Leave Credits & Filing a Leave

What are my benefits?

How are my tax and compensation computed?

My HR Department on Confluence is a goliath of space with everything my team members need while on their journey in my company. It didn’t take forever to create, it didn’t take a lot of money to build and it didn’t take all of our efforts. All we needed to get our Confluence ramped up is a vision from me and my team, a burning commitment to documentation & a weekly time allotment.

Tool Tip #4: Get Extra Productive and Collaborate for Free on Trello

Trello is a free web-based Kanban-style list-making application. I’m sure you see a trend here, both Trello & Confluence are Atlassian products. I am an Atlassian Community Leader and an Atlassian product super-user, so it comes naturally to me to gush over their tools. I use Trello personally and professionally. As a free user, you are given 6 Trello boards. Just like Confluence, Trello has several use-cases and functions.

Here are my top use-cases:

Personal Use

Trello as a Travel Itinerary and budgeting tool for Family & Friends

Trello as a family board for daily, weekly and monthly activities

Trello as a personal branding brainstorming board

Professional Use

Trello as an Applicant Tracking System

Trello as a Task Tracker for Team Members

Trello as an Onboarding Tool for New Hires

If we’re talking Trello, I can literally keep going on and on about the multitude of things I love about this Freemium tool! I mean look at this Gantt-Geared Project Roadmap that you can install as a Power-Up (paid upgrade).

Since I am an Atlassian Community Leader, I have access to an abundance of Atlassian content. If you ever need any help in getting started with Trello & Confluence please feel free to email me at cybill.juarez@atlassiancommunity.com and I will be happy to hop on a phone call with you to discuss a kick-off plan. Alternatively, if you are in the Philippines, I am happy to take a quick trip to meet your team(Metro Manila only) to give them a quick crash course on Trello (free of charge and no ulterior motives).

Tool Tip #5: Easy Video Meetings with Whereby formerly Appear.In

Have you ever been invited to a video meeting and you had to download a desktop app? Only for it to crash and bug down your computer? Have you ever invited anyone with your conferencing tool and people request to be on a different app? Yup, I have experienced those many times. The solution? Whereby! When you open a Whereby account, you don’t need to log-in, you don’t need to download anything, simply click the link, and it will open on your browser. If you switch to the pro account, you get 1 user and 3 rooms! What’s awesome is the vanity URL which looks something like this: whereby.com/iamawesome.

Which means you never have to send out conference links looking like hangouts.google.com/adjf54384127349

You’re probably asking if it has the capacity to record videos and screen share? The answer is Yes!

Tool Tip #6: Don’t Be Lazy, Optimize Your Slack and Make It Fun!

I’m sure most of you reading this blog are already using Slack to communicate internally within your teams. If you’re not using Slack yet, do yourself a favor check it out, I think its the best tool out there for office communications. If you are using Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger & Skype for internal business communications, you are missing out. You might want to go out of the prehistoric era and open your eyes to the fun Slack Universe.

To spice things up, in our company, every team member has a fun twist with their Slack usernames. Examples are Janini Panini, Amanda Panda, SefDrinks, Crista Quinoa, Chillimansi just to name a few. Its a fun office quirk and some companies might shy away from this practice, but I like to make Slack a fun place to be.

Apart from making things fun, I also make sure channels are labeled and used wisely. If a channel is being underutilized, we repurpose the channel, we rename it or we bin it. Another fun thing we do on Slack, for every new team member who joins our company and for every little win we achieve, we celebrate it on Slack and everyone reacts with GIFs and Emojis. This way, we feel the digital synergy.

Tool Tip: #7: Get Technical and Draw Your Workflows using Draw.IO

Have you ever discussed a process with your team only to forget steps and start all over again and forget even more? Easily draw maps with Draw.IO! It integrates with Google & Confluence, its super easy to use and most especially it’s free!

As a general practice for my managers, whenever we discuss a new workflow rule, process or new interdependencies, they immediately draw it as a workflow and they upload it on Confluence. In this way, we never have the issue of team members not knowing what to do and how to do it.

Tool Tip #8: Create Quick Marketing Material on Canva

When I first started working remotely, I was tasked to develop marketing material for my company. Embarrassed to say this but at that time, I was using many old-fashioned tools including Microsoft Powerpoint. I always ended up with template looking pieces. A dear friend introduced me to the world of Canva which removed all my creative anguish and pain!

When I started with my current company, I started as the founding and only employee. Creating internal material was cumbersome. With Canva and its pro features, its a breeze. Today, despite our company housing a full-pledged content, design & marketing team, we utilize Canva even for our high-level materials just because it is so easy to use & extremely affordable!

Tool Tip #9: Monitor Your Team’s Time & Productivity using Time Doctor

Let’s face it, if you are an entrepreneur, manager or team leader, productivity & time-management are at the forefront of your worries and concerns. This is amplified in a Work-From-Home arrangement. Time Doctor eliminates those concerns. It is a SaaS time tracking and productivity tool created specifically for remote workers and remote business owners.

From anywhere in the world, you can access your Time Doctor Dashboard on your laptop or phone and monitor your team’s performance, the sites they visit and the work that they do. You could be in Bali sitting by the beach and watching your team do what they do best. You have the ability to capture screenshots (you have the option to blur screenshots) of their desktops and have accurate time logged. There is much debate from Western countries on whether this tool violates the privacy or not but this tool is widely used and respected in Asia. I always tell people when they ask me about Time Doctor: “When we are at work, we are meant to work on company initiatives. If you are doing something else aside from work, simply pause Time Doctor and use your personal time.”

My team will be the first to tell you, “Time Doctor is our friend, we use it to our advantage.”

The cost? $10/ month per user. If you think this price is steep, its a price I would pay for peace of mind & productivity.

Tool Tip #10: Design your File Structure Once and Watch it Do Wonders

The image you see above is the actual File Structure we use for our marketing assets. We have a file structure for every department and the file structure is honored by everyone! All files are located in our company drives and no one falters in keeping files organized. To take things a step further, we have also designed File Name structures. There is no ambiguity with our files, it is labeled a certain way and kept a certain way. In this way, we honor everything that we do and put them in the right places.

Bonus Tip: Creatively Visualize & Exhibit your Tech Stack

Your tech stack is your company’s technology ecosystem. The more your team understands it, the more they get bought in, the more productivity increases! The tech stack you see above was drawn and vectorized by one of our awesome designers and if you live in BGC Philippines, you’ll see some familiar areas! While we use an entirely different tech stack now (which I can’t divulge), this was a great starting point that got everyone in the team excited!

Some last thoughts —

With or without Corona Virus, if you own a remote business, it is your responsibility to enhance your team’s digital workspace. It is your responsibility to make their online experience with your company seamless and conducive for quality work. It doesn’t take much to create such an environment. When I started, I started from nowhere with rudimentary skills and knowledge. I don’t have a degree and I don’t have the unlimited resources of a big corporation. I have a small company with less than 20 team members, but one thing I am proud of, I invest the same amount of time, effort and resources to develop my team’s workplace as if they were my clients.

As Campbell’s CEO Douglas Conant once said:

“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”


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