Given the recent turn of events, we made the decision to close the studio for 24 hours and trial a full working from home day. This was a ‘dress rehearsal’ should we need to go fully remote. That was over two weeks ago now, and we haven’t been back into the studio since.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes are now doing this the world over. For some, it’s been a seamless transition and business as usual. For others, it’s been a very, very steep learning curve. One friend of mine works for a company who has been hampered by hardware issues; a VPN solution built with 50 users in mind has brought the company to a complete stop as now 2,000 employees are trying to get access to their email, documents and operational tools. And another who to this day are still trying and failing to get their helpdesk team working remotely because their infrastructure isn’t set up for it. For some companies, it’s just not that easy, or it’s something they’ve never really had to think that hard about… until now.
Thankfully, the hardest part of our transition to fully remote was diverting the business phone line to a mobile phone. We’ve had individuals working remote before but hadn’t ever tested going remote with the whole team at once. But we managed to transition to it with no billable hours lost and no studio downtime. The transition really made me appreciate the decisions we’d made over the last ten years to remove all onsite hardware reliance and focus on best-in-class SaaS products to take care of all our core business functions. So I thought I’d take the time to share what we use.
Video killed the standup star
We work in teams at Kyan, and that usually determines who your standups are with and even where you sit. Those groups can quite easily stay together through Zoom, and in most cases those groups contain clients too. Zoom has been excellent so far, with flawless HD call quality and little-to-no lag. (Wish I’d got some Zoom shares a few weeks ago!)
Slack it to me
Of course, we use email. But we like to prioritise Slack where we can. The app has come a long way over the years, and now it can handle just about anything you throw at it. For us, it’s essential for teams, company-wide comms, and a whole lot of fun stuff too.
We use G Suite for our productivity tools, email and calendars. So that’s things like documents, spreadsheets, presentations, which are essentials for most businesses, and day-to-day bits. The strength of cloud-based apps like these is in its version control, ease of sharing, and instantly expandable storage. It also eliminates the need for email attachments when it comes to weighty things like design documents or video files.
Integration. I don’t think our WFH experience would be the same without it. Most of the above SaaS products talk to each other in one way or another. That cross-platform integration is key, and it can be something as small as telling the whole company who is working and who is on holiday, syncing Zoom invites with G Cal calendar invites or perhaps something more complex like posting the day’s billable figures into Slack. Our engineering team are great at knitting together these products, but in many cases you can use a free third-party handler like Zapier.
Is this all really expensive enterprise stuff? Not really. I worked out that our cost per user per month for Zoom, Slack and G Suite combined is just £17. That’s with 40 heads.
SaaS products have really come into their own in the last few years, and I hope that this unusual period shines a light on some of the great products out there. I also hope that this will change and re-educate how we all work going forward.
So whilst it’s a bad time for some businesses, it’s a good time for all organisations to re-evaluate the tools they’re using to operate their teams and to put more emphasis on tools that are available, scalable and fully manageable remotely.
In case you missed part one of this series, check out Ben’s piece on running discovery workshops with distributed teams. And look out for part three, where I’ll dive into some cool and essential agency-specific tools.