Remote work or rather “working from home” isn’t a concept that is very popular with many African based companies (at least in my experience) the need to see their employees in the office is strong with them.
The global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of these companies to consider and adopt remote work for their employees and when it passes, hopefully, they will be more open to the idea of remote work. (dropping subtle hints at my employer)
Since its a new concept for a lot of the African workforce, the challenge then is to find the right tools to help you be productive with the numerous distractions and limitations from poor internet connections to lack of enough data bundles.
In this article I am going to highlight a few tools I have been using and have found to be really helpful during this time, don’t worry they are all free I know the African in you will appreciate that.
- Google hangouts
This is great for communication with your team as well as meetings and presentations. It is common for us to get excited with shiny new things like Zoom (That isn’t really new) But in my experience google hangouts is a better option especially in an African context where our internet service providers aren’t the best. My roommate uses zoom and she spends the most part of her meeting looking for a good network and sometimes her search leads her to the maize garden whilst with google hangouts I attend every minute of the meeting.
2) Google Calendar.
Time-management while working remotely is just as important as when working on-site in an office building and your google calendar is perfect for this role, it helps you keep your schedule straight and coordinate with teams and customers for meetings and work sessions. You can plot your tasks for the day or even the whole week so you don’t have to miss any deadlines.
3) Google Drive.
Do you hate email as much as I do? It’s amazing (and a bit embarrassing) the number of times I have “lost” documents in my e-mail while it is tolerable in an office setting where I can walk up to someone’s desk and ask them to put it on a flash or some kind of storage device, that is not possible while working remotely. That’s where a reliable and safe tool such as google drive comes in. Google Drive is an online service for storing and sharing digital files provided by Google and is completely free and accessible to you as long as you have a google account.
4) Google sheets
This is for project and team leaders google sheets is a spreadsheet program that is an essential part of the Google Drive office suite. It can be used as a web or mobile application, or even as a desktop application (if you’re using Google’s ChromeOS). It is an effective tool to create detailed project plans and lists of tasks, and it can act as a common space that allows your team to stay on top of the project.
Evidently all the tools I have suggested are google products that are free and easy to navigate because like the next African (or Ugandan like in my case) I live for the simple things and better yet, you don’t have to download any unnecessary apps on your laptop so your mobile data is safe. But, if you don’t use google, here are a couple of other productivity tools; Dropbox for file sharing, Zoom, skype or GoToMeeting for meetings and presentations and Asana for project management.