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Tools for the home office

How Team sisu works despite Corona

Reading time: approx. 5 minutes

Black cup with the inscription

© Charles Koh, Unsplash

At Team sisu we have been living the dynamic Friday for quite some time now. Everyone who wants to spend this working day can choose to spend it in their home office. To maintain the flexibility of the individual team members, we rely on a number of useful tools. For example, the switch to 100% home office operation was almost unnoticeable, at least in terms of software.

In this article we present the most important tools that make our decentralized way of working possible. We report on the advantages and disadvantages, and where, in our view, improvements are still possible.

Always stay in touch: Slack as chat

We use Slack as a central communication point for quick questions, feedback or even a nice "Hello, how are you?" in between. Practical are the different channels, in which communication can be organized among different working groups, so that not everyone has to read along. In the workflow the direct notification can sometimes be annoying, but Slack is so nice and sends notifications also as e-mail summary when you go offline.

Also an advantage: the registration is very easy and the tool is really free as long as you don't search for important information that is more than 10.000 messages ago. This becomes relevant, of course, if you try to use slack for project organization.

Slack

Corner of a laptop. Slack logo and menu bar visible.

The team stays in contact with Slack via chat © Webaroo, Unsplash

Also good: MS teams

As an alternative to Slack, we recommend Microsoft Teams. This also allows you to combine chats, meetings, notes and attachments. The connection to Office 365 should make the service particularly worthwhile for companies that already have a strong infrastructure for Microsoft.

Microsoft Teams

Person holds smartphone with Microsoft Teams login screen.

© Mika Baumeister, Unsplash

Video meetings with ZOOM

As long as it is not about the exchange of top secret information and it should work as easy as possible, this is our system. We have paid special attention to the quality of the screen sharing option. Since we also held training sessions for web maintenance systems via video meeting during the lockdown phase, it was important for us that the split screen display was as large as possible and, above all, sharp. ZOOM can do that. Plus funny background options and special additional filters in which you can disguise yourself as a potato? We were hooked right away.

Zoom

Team meeting via zoom video call

The weekly sisu update meeting via zoom © Team sisu

Collaborate effectively with clients and always be up to date on the current project status: tally

Our in-house innovation project, which was launched three years ago, has proven itself many times over. Since we have tally, we have been using the central, web-based tool for project communication instead of e-mail. A particular highlight is that our customers also communicate with us via tally. More than 200 of our contact persons have already successfully completed their projects using this tool.

The advantage: tally connects task lists, communication and file attachments from various storage locations with each other, maps the whole thing in a project flow and every team member knows at a click what he needs. This matrix not only proves its worth within well-rehearsed teams, but was also able to pick up our customers. Project processes become transparent and nothing falls under the (virtual) table anymore.

 

There are already so many ready-made systems. So why did you develop tally?

There is, that's right. But: None of the tools we know of so far focuses on the target group of customers. Classic PM tools such as Wrike, Asana or trello are designed for collaboration within experienced teams. If you try to invite customers to use these tools, they are often overwhelmed and communication switches back to e-mail after a short time. The traceability of decisions, feedback loops and approvals then often falls by the wayside.

We are currently developing additional interfaces for tally to the popular communication tools MS Teams and Slack, and to data pools such as Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive. This will enable tally to integrate even more seamlessly into existing environments, and familiar working methods will remain the same.

 

tally

Tally splash screen. Your business grows and you keep track.

Tally is the digital interface between companies and customers. © Team sisu, gotally.me

The time recording: toggl

We have been using Toggl for project time tracking for several years. The professional interface and the practical desktop app convinced us. Nevertheless: There is still room for improvement. We would like to see team members being able to see in the app how much time is left on a task, and our billing people would like to see team members tagging their projects as "to be billed", thus simplifying billing.

Whoever has a tip for us here: With pleasure!

Toggl

Short update: In the meantime we got a tip and switched toggl as time tracking and everbill as billing system to mocoapp.com within one month and at the moment really all dreams came true and even more than expected.

Smartphone on wooden table. On the screen you see the app

Time recording with toggl. © Le Buzz, Unsplash © Screenshot Team sisu

Shared access to documents: Google Cloud

Since we can also link documents from the Google Cloud within tally, we work almost exclusively with Google Docs and Sheets instead of Word and Excel. The advantage is obvious: we no longer have to send documents back and forth non-stop, but can make our changes together in a central location. With the practical auto-save function, nothing gets lost if the notebook runs out of battery.

Google Slides also allows us to replace the good old Powerpoint and is much easier to use. As PPT we can still save it and send it on.

Google Docs

PC with Google Docs. Next to it a book with the collected works of Wes Anderson.

Easily collaborate on text documents, spreadsheets and presentations with Google Docs. © James Bold, Unsplash © Screenshot Team sisu

What we still wish for at home: Flexible telephoning

Currently, each team member has diverted his or her company phone to their private mobile phone. This means that customers have access to the private phone number, which is not OK for everyone. We would like to be able to use our extension numbers from the office at home as well, and make calls from the PC using software. It would also be an advantage to always know to which number the incoming call belongs. If you are not always immediately reachable in your home office, you know immediately who is waiting for a call back and you don't always have to introduce yourself highly officially to a seemingly unknown number.

Flexible telephone systems such as Aircall provide these functions. At the moment we are still trying to find out which provider would be the right one for us and if we can somehow connect it to our existing telephone system.

Graffiti in pink with a white rabbit on the phone.

© Nick Fewings, Unsplash

Bottom line:

All in all, we are well prepared for a longer home office phase. And yet: The many jokes, the shared laughter and the excitement when things get really tricky are missing. Despite all the local independence, we are looking forward to the new luxury of time together again.

 

Susanne Trhal
Published on 08.05.2020
Written by:
Susanne Trhal

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