Remote Working - the Virtual Assistant Way!

Posted on 19th March 2020

Kerry Lummus, Virtual Assistant and Proofeader at Lummus Virtual Solutions.

Working remotely from my home office is the norm for me. I work alone, but very much as a team with each of my clients. During these extraordinary times, I thought it might be useful to share a few tools used by myself and other virtual assistants.
 

Please excuse the hastily thrown together information, which may contain grammatical errors or typos. I'm working on the basis that sooner is better than word-perfect, while also supporting my clients through these challenging times.

So, tools you might wish to look at include:
 

Team Communications

Slack and Microsoft Teams (included in your Office 365 subscription) are both highly regarded. My personal preference is Slack.
Chats can be with individuals or with groups (known as Channels). You can see who's online/away/in a meeting etc. through their status. 
Integration with other apps is possible.
As you would expect, there are free and paid-for versions. Free is fine for smaller teams.
Think What's App, but more for business use (although there is now a business version of What's App too!)
MS Teams does pretty much the same thing, but in my opinion, it's slicker to get going if all team members have the same email domain (otherwise ensure you have 'allow guests' turned on).
 

Project Management/Co-ordination

Asana is the tool I use, but Todoist and Trello do more or less the same job, and I hear good reviews of all.
Tasks may be created in sections (eg. by client or project) and are given a due date. All tasks set for today are moved to the top of the page and become your 'to do' list. Tasks may be assigned to different team members, so you keep visibility while also delegating. Descriptions may be added to the task for detail and files may also be attached. I'd be lost without Asana!
Dropbox can also be used for feedback on your work.
 

Transfer of large Files

We Transfer is my preferred tool. It's fully GDPR-compliant, based in the EU and with end-to-end encryption. The free version works well for unlimited files of up to 2GB. 
Wesendit.com is also widely used and offer a free version with massive capabilities.
1ty.me is free and provides one-time self-destructing links so you can safely share sensitive information, including passwords.
 

Scanner

Your team may not have a scanner at home, which could be an issue for you. Camscanner is a handy phone app, free of charge, which allows you to scan documents with your phone, turn them into PDFs and then email them off. Neat.
 

Screen Recording

It may be handy to demonstrate to a team member how a certain task should be performed. Loom is a good one to look at and offer a free version.
 

Video Conferencing

Last, but by no means least!

Zoom is the one which has captured the nation. They offer a free version with a 40-minute limit on meetings of 3 or more people. However, you can start a follow-on meeting right away. Only the host needs an account (free), and they create a link and send it to the participants. The current recommendation is to run it off WiFi rather than a phone line - but I do anyway! It includes the capability to screen share, file share and also has a whiteboard. It works very well. Current security scares can largely be addressed by making use of the waiting room (meaning you have to allow participants to the meeting individually), and locking the meeting once it's commenced. However, if your meeting is to cover any particularly sensitive topics, it's worthwhile taking a look at Teams or Whereby . Whereby is based in Norway, but I think they're pretty hot on GDPR over there. It's fully encrypted with an easy to use link, and nothing to download. Let me know what you think!

This list is by no means exhaustive, but is good for starters! I'd love to hear of any alternatives you recommend. Take a look at whatever you feel might be of benefit, and feel free to contact me if you'd like any help. 
 

Together we'll get through this!!


 
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