We are all in an extraordinary situation. The corona virus is spreading worldwide and we can feel the consequences more and more. Many countries have decided for a lock-down. Working from home has long since become the norm in most companies, and that is what this blog article is about. I reveal tips and software that make working from home much easier and thus enable a workflow that is just as good as it would be in the office.
Asking your colleauge for assistance or the boss for a decision? It is not so easy to do when you are not all working together in the office. The magic word here is “online meeting“. The principle is clear: the webcam and the corresponding microphone (installed in the laptop or connected externally) can be used to communicate with colleagues easily. The conversation stays personal due to audio and video communication. This is particularly important in the current situation. Social contacts are missing and these should be kept up regarding your own health. Das hilft uns allen mit der Situation besser umgehen zu können.
We would like to point out that any information regarding GDPR and data protection is published generally without liability. You should contact a lawyer for further information.
1. Zoom – Our recommendation so far
Let´s talk about ZOOM first. Why? Zoom is one of the market leaders and, in my opinion, until data breaches came up, that has been right. With the software it is possible, depending on the plan, to gather up to 1,000 participants and 10,000 spectators in an online meeting at the same time
The tool is technically reliable and works perfectly. The interface is built very understandable and intuitive. Another nice feature is the opportunity to share the own screen. For example, to show presentations or work steps, the speaker can share his screen with colleagues.
Online meetings are available free of charge. Of course, there are also other paid plans that offer more features. In the basic plan there is of course a limit on the number of participants and meeting time. The Pro, Business and Enterprise plans increase these and other advantages. With a maximum price of € 18.99 per month, Zoom is quite affordable.
For companies that want to offer webinars, for example, there are add-ons that can be booked separately, i.e. additional packages with additional functions.
In addition to use on your own computer, an app can also be installed on your smartphone, so that you can be available at any time if desired.
With regard to data protection, it should be noted that an order for data processing is only possible from the Pro version.
Update: Due to the data protection scandal that has now been made public, we can no longer recommend this tool with a clear conscience. For example, before ZOOM installed an update, hackers could easily join third-party meetings, flood the screen with pornographic content, and even take control of the meeting and the participant’s computer. Furthermore, it was made easy to install so-called malware – malicious programs – on the computer. It remains to be seen to what extent the precautionary measures that are now taken will remain to be seen.
2. Skype – The well-known one for working from home
Skype is on the market for much longer than Zoom and is one of the classics by Microsoft. Downloading the app does not cost a cent. The principle of operation is the same as for Zoom. Using an Internet connection, calls can be made to other users worldwide or video conferences can be held.
In addition, there are options for chatting and exchanging files using Skype. This is also very important when working from home remotely. In “split view” mode, the screen can also be shared. However, Skype is more for phone calls and smaller online meetings.
Personally, I don’t really like the video transmission in terms of quality. Often everything is a bit coarse-pixeled or the video stops in between. For me, that is a negative point compared to ZOOM.
3. MS Teams – For everyone who wants to optimize their home office in general
The third software that I am presenting here for use in the home office is also invented by Microsoft. It is MS Teams. This program is designed for teamwork. Video conferences are also possible – so it is a perfect tool to work from home.
Teams is a paid service and only available in a business package with other Microsoft services. Costs: minimum of € 6.70 and a maximum of € 34.40 per user and month. In comparison, it is the most expensive tool, but it contains other software such as Outlook, Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
If you are still using the private version of Office365, you cannot simply upgrade. A new business account must be set up. But this has the advantage that stored data, for example from OneDrive, are covered by the Privacy Shield Agreement, so that there are no problems with the GDPR. Important: Do not forget to inform your visitors about how and where data is stored and processed.
In general, setting up the business package is not too difficult. However, if you want to move your infrastructure (emails etc.) to Microsoft, some settings are necessary that should be carried out by a specialist. We are happy to assist you. Please, feel free to contact us.
4. Workplace by Facebook
Workplace by Facebook is a very new way of exchanging ideas with colleagues. Now surely you think – Facebook already exists. It should be pointed out that this new tool is not directly connected to your Facebook account. It is a social network within your company in which your employees can exchange ideas. As usual, this is done with a news feed, a messaging function and a way to communicate via video. It is important that the administrator can only invite members with an email address of the company.
Since Facebook repeatedly hits the headlines with the topic of data protection and GDPR, here is the note (without any legal check) about the Privacy Shield.
All software for online meetings is definitely recommended. This should also be based on the preference of the individual company. In terms of price, Skype and ZOOM (in the basic version) are the winners because the providers offer their services free of charge. I personally liked Zoom and MS Teams best according to usage. Either way, it remains to say that these programs are essential for working from home – and home office will certainly occupy us all more in the near future.
My general tips for the home office:
- Make your own apartment your place for work. Eliminate clutter and keep calm. So you can not be distracted and work more productively.
- From time to time maintain social contacts. This is also possible via online meetings, free of charge.
- Don’t give up and persevere. We are all in the same boat.
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