Wow, what a difference a week makes! As I write this article from my home office, I have to wonder how many of us are doing so for the first time. Or, perhaps you’ve done this Work From Home (WFH) thing a couple of times in the past, but now we’re in this for an unforeseeable amount of time. WFH is definitely different than working in the office. On top of the things that we’ve been reminded to do (like stand up occasionally) access to your company’s technology has changed for many of you. When you’re at your office, you are most likely working inside of a domain so you don’t think about things like Virtual Private Networks (VPN), or opening up Microsoft Office in the cloud, or even, “do I have all of my passwords I need?”, and so on.
The good news is Cloud Computing works and its safe and provides access to the core things we need. There are also so many tools to help with the other things like utilize the mobile app for connecting to your VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) telephony system. I am sure many of you have used Zoom or WebEx this week (some for the first time I imagine) to join a meeting, but if you are using the full Microsoft Office suite, have you tried Microsoft Teams?
Teams is collaboration software that comes with Office. If you need to work in a group or team environment, this is an excellent tool. You can include only your department or your specific group. For example, if you have a group of community managers that report to you, consider setting up a Team so all of you can easily ask questions and everyone on the Team will see the communications. You can also screen share inside of Teams. The nice thing is you’re doing this outside of Outlook and Teams communications aren’t creating 97 new emails in your inbox. You can even set Teams to load as part of your boot process so that it runs resident in the background. If there is a message for you, the icon lights up. It is very simple to set-up.
If you have other needs like remotely accessing someone’s computer, you can use Zoom or WebEx and you can also download and use Team Viewer. Team Viewer is excellent for one-on-one support. This is a free download and you simply select the personal use option. The nice thing about Team Viewer is in order for anyone to gain access to your machine, you must open Team Viewer and then provide them with the username and password that appears on the main monitor start screen. That password changes every time you open Team Viewer.
Many of us are connecting to things remotely for the first time. If you have a Multi-Function Printer (MFP) at home and you need to scan, download the entire print driver application. Many MFP’s allow you to scan with options like scan and send email, scan and save as PDF, etc. While each printer is a little different, most are generally easy to set-up.
If you need to edit a PDF, there are many options available and several PDF editors allow a 30-day free trial so you have full functionality of the software for a month and that might carry for now. Look at Adobe and Nitro Pro as good options.
Many of us have Smart TV’s in our homes but I bet very few of us have ever connected our laptop to the big screen. If you’re growing tired of reading on a 15-inch laptop screen all day, try connecting your laptop to your TV. You will most likely need your original remote because there are just a couple of clicks and questions to answer (the Xfinity remote didn’t work for me) but my actual TV remote did work and it took less than a minute to do. My eyes did a Happy Dance when I first connected.
Now that we’re all connected, what should you do with the list of 39 (or 390!) different passwords you can’t possibly memorize? Rather than taping some of them to your phone or next to your mouse pad, why not employ some password management in your life? You can start with something as simplistic as creating a password protected excel spreadsheet and if you’re diligent and always enter in new or updated passwords into this protected environment, you’ll only have 1 password to remember. This option is simple, and you can send a back up to your Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive folder. The downside of this option is its all manual so if you don’t do the work, this will not have a good outcome.
If you think you’d like something a little more secure or you’re considering rolling something out for your team, look at Last Pass. Last Pass has a free version and it’s a really effective way to save your passwords securely. Dash Lane, 1Pass, and Bit Warden are other options. Google even offers a password service if you use Chrome as your browser. For my money, though, Last Pass is the clear winner because of the features they provide.
What ever technology challenge you suddenly find yourself faced with, know that there is a strong likelihood that a piece of software you’ve never heard of can help you. Google It! In many cases you can try the software for free or use a slimmed down version at no cost. Many people don’t realize that MS Office is comprised of 29 different applications. If you open Office online (office.com) you will see what your account provides. You might already have a tool and you don’t even know it.
While these are trying times now that we’re all working from home, maybe it’s time we try something new. Get out of your comfort zone and you might just surprise yourself.
Be safe and stay healthy, everyone!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen R. Gothard is the Director of Operations for Camco. He focuses much of his attention on industry technology that can help make us mobile and more productive. Steve has twice given technology presentations at our national conference. He’s been published in Common Ground as well as Community Assets. He more recently participated in a technology podcast with Tony Campisi. Steve also serves as the chairperson to CAI’s Annual Conference & Expo Committee. Steve and his wife Diane have two grown sons a black lab named Cooper.. He can be contacted via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.