4 Tools for Working from HomePosted January 10, 2011 | | Tips and Trends from the Experts
At about 5:00 PM Friday afternoon, Laura, InkHead’s web sales manager, came over to my desk to find out whether I would be prepared in the event we had to work from home on Monday due to an incoming winter storm. I answered in the affirmative, although I was a bit skeptical that we would see enough snow to warrant teleworking. After all, the forecast earlier in the week had called for snow flurries Friday afternoon, a day which turned out to be rather mild. Needless to say, I’ve learned not to expect much from most meteorologists’ reports after living in Atlanta my entire life. To me, although meteorologists in many cases have advanced degrees, they are akin to Vegas odds-makers and stock traders: they have mastered the art of the educated guess.
Having said that, you can imagine my shock when I looked out my window after the Packers-Eagles game last night and saw snowflakes falling from the skies in clumps large enough to accumulate three inches in two hours. The snow continued to fall into the early hours of the morning. Since then, it has turned into sleet and freezing rain, adding a nice sheet of ice over the snow that fell last night. Many roads were closed at certain points overnight, and most people are staying home today. We here at InkHead may at home today, but we are still open for business. Give us a call, send us an email, or send us a message on Live Chat!
To Midwesterners and North Easterners, such caution (to put it lightly) toward a relatively small amount of snow may seem excessive. And to be fair, the hysteria over staple items can be a bit ridiculous. During the weekend, metro Atlantans ransacked grocery stores, depleting them entirely of milk, eggs, and toilet paper in preparation for “Snowpacolypse,” “Snowmageddon,” “Snowman’s Land: Winter Blitz ‘11” or whatever alarmist name local news affiliates have deemed the incoming winter storm. But Atlantans truly are unprepared for such winter weather. We don’t personally own snow plows, snow shovels, or snow chains for our tires. If it snows more than an inch, we’re pretty much stuck wherever we are until it thaws, which generally takes no more than a day or two.
That said, last night’s snowfall, a record 4-6 inches for Atlanta, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. The temperature hasn’t risen above 40 degrees today, and clouds continue to completely occlude the sun. It looks like many of us may be stuck at home tomorrow too.
4 Tools For Working From Home
This doesn’t mean that life has to stop, though. Thanks to the Internet, many of us can do our jobs just as well from home as we can from the office. Below are a few of the tools we rely on at InkHead when the weather in the South goes south.
Perhaps the most vital resource we use is AOL Instant Messaging, or AIM for short. It enables quick and easy communication between everyone at the office. At the office, sending a quick little “ping” to a coworker is easier than calling him or her or walking down to his or her desk. At home, it’s as good as it gets.
Thanks to Google Docs and Google Calendar Sync, notes and appointments I make in the office are available to me from any computer by virtue of my Google account. Known as cloud computing, storing files online provides employees access to any pertinent information they may need. What’s more, thanks to collaborative editing in Google Docs, people can work on the same document at the same time without replicating or undoing each other’s efforts.
Similar to above, making sure your company email server has public web access will make it easy for workers to do their jobs in the event that they cannot drive into the office. While some companies are content with Google’s corporate Gmail solution, most offices are still driven by Microsoft Exchange servers and MS Outlook. If you are interested in such a service, check with your web hosting provider. Most offer email hosting in addition to web hosting.
Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
VoIP is what InkHead uses at the office to take and make phone calls to customers, and because the service runs through the Internet, it means we can take and make phone calls to customers from our homes, too. VoIP is generally cheaper than traditional phone services, making it a useful cost-cutting measure for businesses looking to trim their 2011 budgets. What’s more, because the service is integrated with the Internet, the interface to manage your phone system is easier to configure. Voice mail can even be sent to you as an email attachment automatically.
The Bottom Line
Before the Internet, winter weather like the kind Atlanta received last night meant that everything stopped. Work commenced when employees returned to the office. And while most things in Atlanta have stopped today, business at InkHead hasn’t. Thanks to Internet tools like AIM, Google, web mail, and VoIP, we can do our jobs even if we aren’t in the office. InkHead is dedicated to assisting you in ordering Business Promotional Items regardless of what the streets look like!