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Do you find yourself suddenly working from home, but struggling to get on top of all the tech you need to manage people, communication, meetings and files? Here we’ve outlined some of the best options with an eye to the needs of not-for-profits.
Before you go shopping online for new hardware or software, check out the discounts available to eligible not-for-profits via Connecting Up. For example, Microsoft and Adobe products are available at a significant discount to qualifying organisations.
Team instant communication
The tools below allow your staff to communicate more easily with their colleagues and others who are working remotely. Team members can communicate one-on-one, in ad-hoc groups, in organised teams, or collaboratively on specific tasks.
These tools integrate instant messaging, voice calling, video calling, file sharing and more, between staff members as well as with people outside your organisation.
First choice: Slack
The free version of Slack is adequate for most tasks, but if you want full video conferencing features and long-term records of your chats and communication, you should consider upgrading to one of the paid versions.
Further info: https://slack.com/intl/en-au/
Honourable mention: Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams forms part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite. If you already have an Office 365 subscription, you have immediate access to its features and there’s probably no need to look further.
See the Microsoft Office 365 entry for free offers, below.
Team collaboration, file storage and sharing
If people in your organisation are still sending documents as email attachments, downloading them to their own computer, making changes, then sending them on again as attachments renamed something like “Budget_update_draft_latest_v3_final.doc”, then you should see the COVID-19 crisis as a platform from which to launch your group into a more efficient way of working. This will also serve you well when the crisis is over and your team is back in the office. Cloud-based document sharing tools give different team members the ability to work simultaneously on a single document, whether that’s a Word document, a spreadsheet or a slideshow. You can track the changes, view past versions, and collaborate from anywhere in the world.
First choice: Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft Office has been the leading office suite for decades, and its document formats are the defacto corporate and community standard. There are many benefits in the current climate to upgrading your current Office suite to a Microsoft Office 365 subscription. Office 365 includes team collaboration features, Microsoft Teams (mentioned above) and significant amounts of online file storage via OneDrive and Sharepoint, so that team members can easily share and have access to the files they need.
And now you can get a free E1 trial for 6 months: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/MicrosoftTeams/e1-trial-license. Contact a Microsoft Solution Provider to make use of this offer
There's also a free offer for educational institutions: https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/education/products/office/default.aspx
Further info: https://www.office.com/
Honourable mention: Google G Suite
A popular alternative to Microsoft Office 365, G Suite provides many of the same collaboration, editing and file storage features as Microsoft Office 365, though it’s not the industry or community standard when it comes to file formats (.docx, .xlsx etc).
Further info: https://gsuite.google.com/
Large meetings, webinars and live events
The above tools are fantastic for collaborating with your team and reaching small groups outside your organisation, but what about when you need to communicate further afield, to larger groups? Here are a few options.
First choice: Zoom
Zoom is the world’s most popular business meeting and webinar software. The free version of Zoom allows for meetings of up to 40 minutes and webinars of up to 100 attendees, making it a great choice for many organisations. For longer meetings and reaching bigger audiences, subscription prices are reasonable. Zoom can be used for anything from small video conferences to large events with many hundreds of attendees.
Further info: https://zoom.us/
Honourable mention: GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar
GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar, offered by LogMeIn, are similar to Zoom. Between them they offer many of the same features as Zoom and they are robust solutions for mass webinars and meetings.
Further info: https://www.gotomeeting.com/en...
Great FREE tool: Skype
The ubiquitous Skype now offers easy video meetings via your browser with no sign ups or downloads making online meetings easier than ever.
Further info: https://www.skype.com/en/free-conference-call/
A little bit of everything for small to medium organisations
TidyHQ bills itself as the smarter way to run your organisation. It has a range of features designed to help you organise and run meetings, and manage communication, members, events, finances, tasks and much more. It doesn’t do everything, but it can tie things together very nicely and make your team and planning more efficient. It’s easy to use, and its subscription pricing is affordable for most organisations.
Further info: https://www.tidyhq.com/
Work monitoring software
If it’s important to you to keep tabs on what your employees are doing, and to monitor their workload, there are many apps and programs available to help.
Employee monitoring software keeps track of the amount of time employees spend on certain tasks, sites and apps. Before you deploy such software, check that your aims are in line with Australian laws about workplace surveillance. For more information, visit the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. Search for the following apps to get a sense of how they might work for you: Time Doctor, Toggl, RescueTime, Hours, Timely, Harvest, Everhour, Timeneye, ClickTime and TopTracker.
This help sheet is just one of the ways the Our Community Group is working to support not-for-profits through the COVID-19 crisis, as part of a major campaign to help the not-for-profit sector to survive, re-invent and sustain.
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