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Small business tools for remote working

Plenty of commentaries have been written about the pros and cons of remote working – anybody who’s so much as glanced at the subject will know how easy it is to get swept up in competing discussions about work-life balance, productivity, and so on.

Of course, we make no secret of the fact that we’re fully committed to remote working – but you don’t have to be a cool, cutting-edge, meteorically growing InsurTech firm to see that the writing’s on the wall: displaced working is here to stay in one form or another.

With that in mind, we’re less interested in whether remote working is a good idea and more interested in how to make the experience of remote working as worthwhile as possible for businesses and team members alike.

Slack 

Starting with what has become an old faithful for many an organisation, it’s important not to ignore Slack: the bread and butter of remote working setups.

The biggest challenge, when it comes to remote work, is to ensure that lines of communication are completely clear and readily available – not only to keep everyone organised and on track, but to retain that all-important sense of human connection.

Slack easily allows us to achieve both, through written, voice, and those now-ubiquitous video calls alike, on both an organisation-wide level (e.g., “don’t forget Steve is throwing a big barbecue on Friday to use up his leftover meat!”) and a one-to-one level (e.g., “I’m taking Monday off – I’ve been having mysterious stomach troubles all weekend”).

ClickUp

Of course, once we’ve communicated a given task or project, we still need to organise and manage that project – which, for us, is where ClickUp comes in.

Though ClickUp is an extensive task management platform with a wealth of uses, we find remote working is especially facilitated through features like Whiteboard, which is – as its name suggests – an interactive whiteboard we can use to collaboratively share ideas and map out strategies.

It also doesn’t hurt that ClickUp includes sales dashboards, keeping an eye on metrics which (for a business like insurance broking) we all need to keep at the forefront of our minds.

File Storage

Obviously, a virtual whiteboard only gets you so far – in order to keep content saved and secure (and ready for collaboration with distant colleagues) it’s vital to think about your storage.

There are plenty of options here, ranging from the likes of DropBox to Google Drive for Work – and while each has its benefits, the crucial features to look for are those that focus on working together and good content management.

It would be remiss of me not to add that good security and robust recovery options aren’t a bad idea either – as an insurance broker, I often find the word ‘risk assessment’ floating through my brain whatever the topic may be.

VR

It’s easy to dismiss VR headsets, and associated VR spaces like Horizon Workrooms, as a bit of a gimmick: we get that they’re not necessarily as sober and respectable as the likes of Slack, and obviously, they’re not economically viable for all small businesses.

In reality, though, there’s no gimmick involved here whatsoever. 

In fact, a study discussed in Nature recently found that although collaboration can be more creative in person, this may not be the result of physical proximity, but because in-person pairs of people were able to look around at the contents of their shared space (as opposed to fixating on a computer screen).

VR workrooms sidestep this issue altogether by allowing remote workers to share a space, thereby putting to bed concerns about a lack of spontaneous ideation while retaining all the best parts of remote working. 

You know – the little things like saving thousands on commutes and preserving your work-life balance. Minor details like that.

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