Homebound? Use Project Management Tools, Virtual Whiteboards and Quarantine-Friendly Furniture

All of a sudden, the global mobility manager is told that they and their team, which includes assignees, have to work from home indefinitely. Insulation is one way to protect the staff from the infection of the COVID-19 virus. The fewer employees on-ground physically present in the workplace, the fewer chances  of contamination.

Not everyone is equipped or prepared to deal with a work-at-home arrangement for a long or indefinite period of time. The assignee who answers their email two hours a night and formulates proposals over the weekend can find these habits inadequate practice for what is to come. 

How can accounts people make their boss’ sign checks? How do companies trust employees to do remote work and keep their work confidential even to family members?  How do they make sure that projects meet their deadlines if follow-ups suddenly become irregular? How do they prevent health risks—like excess weight and stiff backs—if they sit on their comfy chairs, tapping on their laptops, the whole day long?

Here are essential equipment and tools that can make the transition an easy, efficient, and comfortable one:

Use a project management software

A bit of googling will show you a lot of options when it comes to project management software. The more popular ones are Basecamp, Asana, Trello, and Slack. Entire projects are broken down into sections, boards, or groups. Then these small sectors are further divided into calendars, tasks, notes, and resources. A project manager oversees the workload and alerts members to take note of important deadlines, conversations, and action plans. Members communicate through posts, emails, and chat groups. 

A headset, a microphone, and a digital camera

Skillcrush recommends this trio of tools before even picking a project management software (more on that later) or a virtual conference platform like Skype or Zoom. Emails can be too slow and bulky to facilitate communication with teammates. 

Facetime and audio are still necessary to make hours-long conversations clear and convenient. While video remains an option for some teams, many still do want to see their colleagues. Using a headset can also block out external noise and enable the members to concentrate on the discussion. 

Illustrate ideas on virtual whiteboard

Opensource highlights a couple of the newer ones: Drawpile, where members can literally illustrate their ideas on a virtual whiteboard, making it perfect for brainstorming; Nextcloud, which combines online shared storage like Dropbox with email and chat group functions; and Riot team chat, which supports the usual chat group with strong image capabilities, and then organizes the conversations into channels that link various discussions into one coherent, clearly defined thread.

Use quarantine-friendly furniture 

Forbes’ recommendations are a practical and lasting investment into the assignee’s or employee’s health and wellness. First, protect the spine and its related muscles with an ergonomic executive chair. It should support the assignee’s weight and suit their size, while allowing a lot of swivel movement. 

Second, the ideal computer desk should be strong and sturdy enough to carry the weight of all the equipment that will be piled on it; a lamp and a desktop or laptop are just for starters. It should also be wide and spacious enough to accommodate other work-related items like the assignee’s smartphone or a cup of coffee. 

Those who want to rein in their food cravings and keep a healthy weight might be better off with a standing desk. The assignee works in a standing position for a couple of hours, takes a break, relaxes their leg muscles, and then comes back. The standing desk keeps away listlessness, sluggishness, and sleepiness in the workplace, and can do the same at home. 

Transitioning to a work-from-home arrangement can be a fun and collaborative environment, as the tech teams in California found out. Done the right away, it can even become a training ground that teaches the assignee how to thrive in seeming physical isolation, while interacting in a virtual community.