Recently I was able to make the 1,798 mile journey from our office in Amesbury, Massachusetts to my new home in the Lone Star state. Imarc is planning to expand into Dallas to better serve our clients in the region but for the time being I’ll be working from home. Working remotely has it challenges but the greatest of them all is communication. Aside from email, there are few tools we use in order to keep in touch with each other.
Voice over IP or VoIP uses the internet as a way to send and receive calls. We were able to set up my VoIP phone at my home office like the one at my old desk at HQ. I get to keep my extension, get office announcements, get my calls forwarded to me and I can easily get hold of anyone near their office phones just like as if I were there.
HipChat is our main internal communication tool and is indispensable for keeping me in the loop with projects and coworkers. The topic of conversations ranges from adding features to our Imarc Boilerplate to the latest in Fantasy Football. So it’s not just a tool to get work finished but also a great way to grow and nurture the office culture us Imarcians love.
Join.me is the best solution we have used so far for remote client meetings because of its flexibility. Participants are able to dial in through traditional dial up or through VoIP via web or native app. The flexibility keep hardware and software compatibility issues to a minimum and clients are able to participate however they like.
No agency is complete without a project management tool. ActiveCollab is a complete suite where we delegate tasks, create discussions and track our time. We use it in a way to let people on our team quickly understand our individual workload and current progress on tasks.
Discord is our newest tool and is actually an app for gamers. Discord allows you to connect to a channel and voice chat with everyone in it. It’s quite a different experience than a traditional phone/video call because there is less sense of urgency to get off the call. You can casually talk to someone throughout the day as if you were walking over to their desk. And it’s totally free!
These tools are invaluable not only for me but for everyone at the office who sometimes needs to work from home. In Feburary 2015, the northeast was hit with huge snow storms and it made commuting pretty terrible for everyone. With these tools in place some of us were able to work from home and it was business as usual. Likewise for me as we roll out new cool things for the branch. Stay tuned for what we have in store down south.