Chris Towers, Founder & Head of Events, Roar Media
The way we are working has drastically changed over the last few weeks due to COVID-19. Work from home is the new normal for the foreseeable future, but we are more prepared for this than you might think. The last five years has seen an incredible rise of digital workplace tools and technologies. In this article Roar Media founder Chris Towers discusses some of the best inexpensive and productive tools you can implement today.
In the events business it’s essential to have remote working tools in place as we are often travelling round the globe and constantly need to be communicating with one another, sharing documents and quickly turning around media content. I’ve also been working from Australia the last 6 months building our APAC offering so been well positioned to share what works well in terms of our digital tools. This isn’t any high level thinking, purely what has worked well for us at Roar Media and I am sure you will have heard of most of the solutions. Also worth mentioning that none of this content is sponsored and purely my own opinion.
Slack is where work flows. It’s where the people you need, the information you share, and the tools you use come together to get things done.Slack: Where Work Happens
Slack has been the back bone of Roar Media’s communication. I would now consider this a business critical tool and probably our most used digital tool. It’s brilliant for a number of reasons, we use it primarily as a day to day comms tool, catching up with one another and sharing daily musings on both work related topics and the occasional Netflix recommendation. We break down our ‘chats’ into channels; marketing, sales, design, accounts etc, and post the relevant work flow within this making it easier to reference back to and also to separate the various functions of the business, this constantly evolves and you’re able to add and remove channels as you go, implementing what works best for you. There are many apps that you can integrate, calendars, drives so make all your systems talk to one another. It’s also brilliant for setting reminders where you can have the Slack Bot remind you of distant meetings for example. The /giphy is also an added bonus, but I will let you figure that one out if and when you use the tool.
Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinarsZoom: Video Communications
Now I must admit that this is a completely new one on us. Previous to COVID-19 we had Skype in place for all our video conference calls which served us very well. However I quickly needed to implement a system that could take on the need to move our live events to an online environment, Zoom ticked all the boxes for this purpose. It’s a great way to dial in members of your team to have catch ups when working remote or working from home, moving your meetings online or general catch ups, it’s easy to do and the invite function is simple. The clever part for us and where we will find most use as an events company is the webinar functionality. We had events for this half to take place in Singapore, Sydney, Amsterdam and London and have had to shift everything online in terms of attempting to deliver all the content we had planned to do, Zoom makes this pretty straightforward although it’s a little ‘clunky’ in places. If you need to present to your team or deliver a presentation this is definitely the one for you. It’s getting a lot of press coverage at the moment so it’s likely you will have seen much about it already. It’s good value.
Business. With Drive Enterprise, businesses only pay for the storage employees use. It comes with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides — and works seamlesslyGoogle Drive: Cloud Storage
Fabulous and inexpensive solution for documents that you would normally use the Microsoft suite for. It’s an easy way of creating text documents, spreadsheets and also for presentations and all kept in the cloud. We primarily use it for spreadsheets and have created clever functionalities within all these, much like Microsoft Excel, it helps when you have a spreadsheet wizard in Sam [Roar Media employee]. It’s easy to password protect any files, encrypt them and to share both internally and externally. Many of our speakers for our events use Google Slides to create their presentations, I can then direct download from the link provided – a good way to share files that are usually too heavy to attach in an email. We are slowly migrating our systems away from Google Drive to Salesforce as we have more of a need of coherent storage of data etc, we will continue to use Google Drive for hosting PDF’s (like our brochures) but rely less on it moving forward with regards to data storage. It’s ideal for small businesses but you will find yourself quickly needing a more centralised system like Salesforce.
Dropbox is a modern workspace designed to reduce busywork-so you can focus on the things that matter. Sign in and put your creative energy to work.Dropbox: Work Better, Safer, Together
Another business critical piece of kit that we use and probably one of the more known systems that businesses use. It’s safe, secure and well protected and with the enterprise solution you get plenty of storage, something we need plenty of as we store large video files from our events. We use Dropbox to store everything we have just because it’s well known for being secure. It’s also a great workspace for sharing documents or other media internally and externally; before we built our OnDemand platform for video sharing we used Dropbox to share event materials once a conference had taken place (very limited, but did the job). It’s also great as you can file things away as ‘online only’ so they don’t ruin your local storage and bring files/folders in and out of local as you need them and depending on how often you’re working on them. It’s a great way to keep organised and keep everything in a tidy cloud that’s both secure and reliable.
I know that these are well known solutions and for many they are the tools and tech already in place, not exactly groundbreaking. Yet many business workers that are usually office bound have now been thrown into a world of uncertainty working from home and remote for the first time, it’s all just my take on the tools as well and there are plenty more available, I will share more of the tools we use in the coming weeks. We are migrating to Salesforce at current so will share thoughts on that journey, why we are doing it and the developers we are working with in doing so.