I still remember the first time I heard the term, “cloud”. It seemed critical to the seminar I was attending, confused, I passed a note to my colleague “Cloud????” He stifled a laugh and passed the note back, it read “Internet.” Ohhhh.
Fast-forward 10-15 years and I now work for DevFacto, where we make software that humans love to use. I am responsible for delivery of our consulting projects and Chris Buchanan is responsible for the technology on our consulting projects. I have come a long way, but I am still not “technical” and could not, should not, would not get into a debate with anyone about the pros and cons of different aspects of technology.
As a people leader and an information worker, I can assure you that working in the cloud is the key to my productivity and success these days.
Prior to working from home full-time, my days were filled with meetings, both internal and client-facing, ad hoc discussions and independent work. Yet, I was able to transition to working from home seamlessly. I literally took my laptop home on a Friday and stared working again on Monday with very little fuss. Here’s how:
Better Remote Meetings
Instead of meeting in-person, I moved all my meetings to Microsoft Teams. Many of my DevFacto colleagues use their laptop cameras so we can still see each other’s facial expressions while we video conference. I share my desktop for others to see, just like I would have shared it to a projector in a meeting room. Meeting attendees often share files, links and comments in the online “chat,” which makes it easy to keep all the relevant information in a single place without having to switch back and forth between Teams and email. When needed, I record the meetings so that we can all refer back to the topics that were discussed.
I keep my meeting notes in a Microsoft OneNote which automatically syncs between the cloud and my computer, so I can easily access it anytime.
Finally, Teams makes it easy for others outside my organization to join a call. And when I want to send a meeting invite, Microsoft Outlook adds a Teams link automatically, so I don’t need to worry about copying and pasting.
Better Ad hoc Discussions
I also use Microsoft Teams to replace popping by someone’s office or stopping them in the hallway to ask a question. Teams has a chat feature that keeps an ongoing history of my discussions with someone. I can see their status and if it’s appropriate, send an instant message (IM). If I need to discuss something with a group, I just add new participants to the chat so that everyone is involved.
Occasionally my quick question requires more discussion and I can launch a voice or video call right from the chat window. Teams also has an app for my iPhone (and configurable notifications!), which has proven handy when I’m away from my desk and someone is trying to reach me. The app also syncs with many smart watches, if you want to get alerts even when your phone is out of reach.
Better Independent Work
The independent work that I do usually involves the Office suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint. Prior to working from home, I was already disciplined about storing my documents either in Microsoft SharePoint or Teams. The few things that are saved to my PC are synced to OneDrive. This means that I can always access all my documents, no matter what. If my work computer stops working or isn’t with me, I can still access the information from a different computer or my phone simply by logging into Microsoft. No VPN or other magic required.
The administrative aspects of my work also involve a mix of cloud-based applications. That part of my work also remains unchanged – I still regularly catch up on corporate news via Sparrow, review timesheets and project progress in Mavenlink, approve time off requests in ADP Workforce Now, or submit personal expense reports in Xero.
I recognize that I am fortunate to work for a technology company where cloud has been the way of way of life for quite some time. Today, these same cloud-based applications and workplace collaboration platforms are helping us weather the storm and continuously deliver software to clients just like before. We are working together almost as well as when we get to meet in person at the office (I say almost, because nothing beats the Friday Beer o’Clock with my coworkers).