The Best Remote Collaboration Tools for Connecting Your Telework Team

Old habits die hard, and with nearly 73 percent of teams anticipating remote workers by 2028, odds are your team collaboration strategies will need to evolve to support that. Remote collaboration tools will help your employees facilitate teamwork and collaboration, regardless of physical location, ultimately increasing productivity, ROI and workplace satisfaction. We’ll share our top recommendations on how to build out a complete digital workspace designed with success and growth in mind.

Tools You Need to Collaborate Remotely with Ease

Just like you wouldn’t have an office without desks, computers or phones, you want to ensure your team’s digital workspace is fully equipped to handle remote work collaboration. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so be sure to explore your options, discover what features fit your team’s needs, and build your custom solution for team collaboration. Here’s a glance at what you need to drive your business forward with minimal roadblocks:

- Customizable Tools
- Video Conferencing
- Instant Messaging
- Project Management Software
- Word Processing
- File Sharing

1) Customizable, Multi-Purpose Tools

The key to any successful group collaboration involves easy communication, streamlined processes and greater accessibility. When brought together, these elements create the perfect storm of form and function to catalyze growth. Examples of customizable digital tools include:

- Microsoft Teams
- Google Workspaces
- Miro

With these platforms, you can tweak the employee and manager interfaces to provide varying tools that make sense for your company’s particular needs. This also allows for flexibility in terms of the number of users, the size of the plan and the breadth of available features.

2) Video Conferencing Software

While there are many brands geared towards video conferencing, having a designated interface that allows for scalable user plans, call recording, and screen sharing are options that will help your team dramatically improve work from home collaboration. A lot of software can be integrated within multi-purpose tools, including:

- Zoom
- WebEx
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Hangouts

3) Instant Messaging Applications

Nothing will slow down productivity more than having to scroll through endless threads of communication to find the one piece of information you need. That's why setting aside a designated space for your team to exchange less pertinent information and questions can clean up group collaboration threads. These apps also provide a look and feel similar to social media, which allows employees to express themselves creatively and improve connectivity all while minimizing crosstalk on important documents and threads. Examples include:

- Slack
- Microsoft Teams
- Facebook Workplace

4) Project Management Software

If you don’t utilize a centralized hub for remote collaboration, many projects can find themselves delayed or even worse -- falling through the cracks. Even the most organized of employees could face productivity challenges if not given the right level of visibility on tasks and deliverables. Remote collaboration tools for project management include:

- Wrike
- JIRA
- Asana
- Trello
- Monday

These tools range from highly lightweight to robust options, so assess the number of users you’ll be adding into the platform and the metrics that can be tracked to stay on target. Additionally, note the options available for application integration to help streamline your internal software one step further.

5) Word Processing

Cloud-based word processors allow for all activity to easily remain on hand from any location. Not only do they allow for greater accessibility for your company, but they also provide an extra layer of real-time protection through the cloud’s storage and autosaving options. Some options for cloud-based word processors include:

- Google Docs
- Quip
- SharePoint
- OneDrive

6) File Sharing for Teamwork and Collaboration

Cloud storage can also come in handy with file sharing. Have you ever waited for your file to upload into an email for what feels like ages, only to be let down by an error message stating, “file exceeds maximum capacity”? Cloud-based file sharing eliminates the pesky file size limitations, while also enhancing data and collateral accessibility. If you’re interested in capitalizing on the cloud as a remote collaboration tool, check out:

- Dropbox
- Google Drive
- WeTransfer
- SharePoint

Explore Your Potential with Expert Support

Now that the physical limitations of your workplace are no longer in play, it’s time to expand your digital footprint along with it. However, you don’t have to fear this technological shift. We are here to provide expert IT support when you need it, how you need it. Let us remove the burden of the ever-changing technology updates, troubleshooting and support so you can focus on what matters most – scaling your business! If you want to learn more about the benefits of remote work collaboration tools, download the Ultimate Guide to Empowering Your Remote Workforce today.


The In's and Out's of Microsoft 365

The Microsoft Suite has perennially been the favored tool for administrators across all facets of business. In the past, licenses would need to be purchased up front, and updates would need to be purchased annually. That all changed with the advent of the subscription-based Microsoft 365. It contained all your favorite MS Office products, and was scalable to your business. At this point we all know the basics of MS Office. Microsoft Word handles all of your word processing needs. For writers such as myself, as well as everyone from secretaries to CEO’s, Word is our go to for everything from writing blogs to internal documents. PowerPoint is industry standard for all of our presentation needs. Excel is still the most widely used tool for spreadsheets and other administrative functions. Checking your email, probably doing it through Outlook. What other goodies does 365 have? Let’s explore!

TEAMS

Since the pandemic started, many of you have had to work from home. That also means your meetings and collaborative projects are done away from your coworkers. Zoom burst on the scene at the beginning, but it is far from the only product, or most effective product for internal communications or collaboration. This brings us to Microsoft Teams. Just like Zoom, you can virtually congregate with your coworkers, up to 250 members can be on a single call. However, it does much more than that. Teams was created as a one stop collaboration tool, making it perfect for a remote office setting. You can create channels that are dedicated to the project or topic you are working on, helping your team stay organized while working on multiple projects at once. Its chat tool allows for messages to be sent both privately and to the group as a whole. If your team uses multiple apps for a project, you can integrate them into the Teams system as well. You can voice call making it easy to communicate when on the go through a mobile device. Screen sharing is easy with Teams, one click and you can make sure that your colleagues can see the file you want them to, when you want them to. Every file you send, or share is saved to the cloud, allowing you to utilize Teams search tool to quickly find what you are looking for. Best of all it’s included in your Microsoft 365 plan!A

ONEDRIVE and SHAREPOINT

OneDrive is a fantastic tool to both share files and backup data. Included with teams, this cloud offers you over 6TB worth of storage, allowing you to save and backup files large and small. Larger files such as software or video, that are normally to big to share through email, are easily sent and accessed via OneDrive. OneDrive also offers a powerful synch feature. Not only can you back up multiple devices to the same account, but it gives you the ability to access your synched files from any device almost instantaneously. For team sharing, 365 offers Sharepoint, which gives you all the features of a Onedrive account, but accessible to a whole team, not just a single user, as well as numerous metadata trackers and backend security protocols to keep your office safe and your workflow flowing. You can even create intranet sites for your staff and subdivisions using Sharepoint. This can give each an organized landing site to build off of and get alerts internally.

ONE NOTE

Be it working on a project or doing research for a paper, keeping organized notes and lists will help you reach your goal faster and more efficiently. This is where OneNote comes in. You can use the ink feature to write with your stylus instead of typing. It includes collaborative features allowing others you allow access to your notes to make edits or share ideas. It’s not just limited to text either, you can include videos, images and voice notes as you see fit. Organization is made easy with OneNote as well. You can create

subsections, chapters, and even different notebooks for each endeavor you are working on. It even includes a highlighting tool so you can highlight the important aspects of each section, making it simple to navigate and find your information.

PUBLISHER

Now, what if you are working on something a little bit flashier than a standard text document. This is where Publisher comes in.  Think of it as a simpler version of the Adobe

suite of products. It allows you to produce everything from newsletters, to greeting cards, to pamphlets without needing a degree in graphic design. Publisher offers various templates and features to help you get what is in your head, on your screen and in print for the world to see.

PLANNER AND PROJECT

Both the Planner and Project tools allow you to post reminders, new projects, and delegate responsibilities for your whole office. Think of it as a virtual version of the old corkboard system where reminders and notes were pinned. This makes it easy to keep track of who is supposed to be doing what and when it is due. Adding Flow to the mix, you can go as far as synchronizing alerts across your email and messaging systems so a notification can come up as soon as something goes up.

SWAY

Powerpoint has been the industry standard for slide based presentations for decades. It allows for text and images to be put together in slides and is a great way to convey information. However, it is a limited tool. If Powerpoint is not enough for your presentation needs, let me introduce you to Sway. Sway is the perfect tool to create streaming presentations. It includes a video editor, allowing you to turn your presentation from slides into dazzling motion. Utilizing the canvas-style system, you can drop and drag videos, images, and text with ease to make your presentation everything you want it to be and more!

POWERBI

One of the best tools for tracking data exists in Microsoft 365. It’s called PowerBI. The BI stands for business intelligence and is a perfect name for a smart tool like this. PowerBI allows you to see fully visualized data. This goes beyond the data accrued on through Microsoft 365, as you can integrate data from several platforms both inside and outside of your business. In short it allows you to transform your data from numbers on a spreadsheet to charts and graphs you can manage, understand, and most importantly use to track and improve your business.

With Microsoft 365, you get a combination of Microsoft’s award-winning business suite, combined with cloud technology and cutting edge editing and analytics. As with any new tools, there is a learning curve. Microsoft also provides you with a dedicated help center ready to answer your questions and guide you in your journey. With so many tools at your disposal via 365, you have a perfect platform to not only streamline, but transform your workforce!


Sky is the Limit: Bringing Your Business into the Cloud

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, many businesses were faced with a choice, either have their employees work from home, or shut down business. Now, that was easier said than done as their network infrastructure and data were often tied to the hardware and software that is in-house. Many business owners knew it was time to forge ahead, and they chose to move their onsite infrastructure and systems into the cloud.

If you have paid any attention to the world over the past decade, you have heard the term “The Cloud” used constantly. On a personal level, you probably have pictures, music, and your important documents saved there so all you must do is log in and all your treasured data is accessible anywhere. For your business, the cloud is a powerful tool to keep your technology up to date, and your team up and running from anywhere, at any time.

WHY THE CLOUD

Technology

The benefits of the cloud go beyond having your data accessible from anywhere. Cloud services keep costs down and innovations up. It gives you access to new technology and software at a fraction of the cost of keeping everything on site. The cloud gives you access to innovation and cost savings from the efficiencies gained when multiple tenants share infrastructure on a larger scale. In fact, in terms of software, most are offered at a fraction of the cost on a subscription service, just like Spotify and Netflix are offered for your entertainment needs. For hardware, you no longer need to dedicate rooms to gigantic servers to store your data and infrastructure, as they are now stationed offsite, available when and where you need them. On top of all of that, think about how good you will look to investors with the reduced energy costs and carbon footprint now that you no longer need a server farm on site.

Scalability and Flexibility

Scalability is simple with proper cloud services and management. As your enterprise grows, so does your bandwidth requirements and storage needs. Cloud solutions, like those offered by Delval, give you access to high bandwidth and large storage arrays, making sure that your infrastructure needs are met as your business grows. The cloud also allows your workforce to be flexible and fluid. They can work from anywhere that has internet access. They can collaborate with ease as they can share and access documents, data, and applications in real time .

Protection

One of the main benefits of having your infrastructure in the cloud is that you get to enjoy the benefits of high availability and decreased downtime.. In the old days if a server malfunctioned or was hit with a cyber-attack, the best-case scenario was spending massive amounts of time and money to recover the system data, buy new hardware to house the data, and pray to the data gods that everything transitioned smoothly. The worst-case scenario, a total loss of your most valuable asset, your company’s data. Manually

backing up your data takes time and investing in a high-end disaster recovery plan is costly. However, with your infrastructure in the cloud, your data is backed up across multiple servers automatically, to make sure that your data and systems remain accessible, and your downtime is eliminated so you can keep operating your business and moving forward.

MIGRATING TO THE CLOUD

I’m sure you are reading this and saying to yourself “All of this sounds fantastic. If I’m going to do this, I need to do it right, and it is a bit confusing”. Think of your trip into the cloud as a journey, and just like any journey, a proper roadmap is a key factor in getting to your destination safely and in good time. Start by figuring out where you are. Are

your systems and applications compatible with the cloud? What is the cost benefit of moving to the cloud? How long will it take to get there? What needs to stay onsite,

and what is no longer needed after migration? Set your goals, be it saving money, growing your business, backing up your data or having a remote workforce.

In fact, it can be all these things. A proper Cloud Service Provider such as Delval Technology Solutions can help you answer your questions, avoid potential

pitfalls, and navigate you through them, giving you a cloud system that is right for your business.

An additional question you may be asking: Are all my licenses up to date and can they be carried over? Your cloud provider will often have current operating systems licenses available for you, but you may have to consider your 3rd party licenses for proprietary. Many companies offer subscription models allowing you to pay for licenses as needed. It is important to make sure all your licenses are both up to date and compatible to moving to a cloud system, so you remain compliant and your software remains accessible

to your team.

From there, it’s time to pick your Cloud Service Provider. Consider all your concerns, hopes and goals for your new system. Compare prices and features. Look at where they store your data, do you want a huge conglomerate that has servers across the globe, or a local solution like Delval Technology Solutions provides, so you can see where your data is backed up, and have a personal relationship with the company handling your cloud services. When you hop in a plane and fly into the clouds, you want to be as comfortable as possible, and the same goes for when you move your network into the cloud.

When it comes to moving your network to the cloud, keep in mind the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” While many companies had to rapidly migrate at the beginning of Covid-19, you may want to start small and expand as needed. Hasty decisions can cost you valuable time and money. Work with your cloud service provider and your team, be it an MSP such as Delval Technology Solutions or your in-house IT team to make sure that you are moving at a pace conducive to growth and not causing unneeded headaches and issues.

Having a backup plan ready to employ is also a key to successful navigation. Just as if you are going to visit friends and family, you have an alternate route in case of encountering accidents and road closures, you should have a contingency plan in place. As with employing any new technology, you are bound to encounter some hiccups and bumps in the road. However, by having a team that is ready, be it in house or a Cloud Service provider, you can minimize the effects of these hurdles on your business.

When choosing your provider, keep security in mind.. By teaming with a company that is known for Cloud Security, such as Delval which has been named in the Top Ten twice by Enterprise Security Magazine, you can rest easy knowing that your network can be even more secure when you move to the cloud. Your cloud security provider can also easily perform regular audits, run tests, and build layers of encryption to ensure that the only people with access to your cloud system are the people you want to access it.

Once you have all of this in place, making sure that your cloud systems are routinely maintained an audited is paramount to ensuring that your operation continues to run smoothly after migration. Think of your network as the highway. In order to keep the traffic flowing safely, securely, and efficiently, it is constantly being monitored for everything from potholes, to blockages, to new interchanges that are needed. Your cloud system is no different. You want to make sure that your in-house team or cloud service

provider is on top of your system, monitoring, patching and fixing problems of all sizes.

Remember, you never want to go into a situation where your business infrastructure is at stake without a proper guide and roadmap. By keeping these things and mind and employing the right cloud service provider, such as DelVal Technology Solutions, you have a guide through the cloud and a roadmap to follow, guaranteeing that not even the sky is the limit for your business.


Human Firewalls: Your Frontline Protection

Meet Donna. Donna works in the accounting department at a mid-size business just like yours. She is smart, diligent, and a whiz with numbers. However, Donna isn’t the most tech savvy person on earth. One day she receives an email that looks like it came from her boss. At first glance she sees what looks to be his email address and email signature, but something is off. The email is telling her that he is stuck in a foreign country and needs to get home. In order to get a flight, he needs $5000 in Visa Gift Cards sent to him.

While Donna thinks something is strange about this request, she wants to ensure her boss can get on that flight and get home safely. She gets the online gift

cards with the company credit card and sends them. Five minutes later her boss calls, from his office. Donna got caught by a hacker in a phishing scam.

When thinking about what you can do to protect your business against hackers, things such as anti-virus software, a great security partner like Delval Technology Solutions, and strong firewalls comes to mind. However, one of the biggest assets at your disposal when it comes to protecting your network and your business is your employees. While they can be the way in for cyber-attackers through phishing, spear phishing and ransomware attacks, they can also be weaponized against them. With proper training and diligence, you team can be transformed from ordinary employees to human firewalls.

TRAINING

The first place to start is with proper training for your employees. After all, how does one know how to spot a threat when they do not even know what to look for. “Well, paying for all my employees to get training seems like a costly endeavor.” Not only is training less costly than you think, but it can also save you hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions of dollars in cleaning up a breach and lost business. Companies such as Delval Technology Solutions, offer training that will not overwhelm your employees

with technical information but will show them what to keep their eyes peeled for. These courses include games, quizzes, and other ways to track how well

your employees are retaining the information.

RECOGNIZE AND INCENTIVIZE

People love recognition and being shown they are appreciated, and your employees are no different. That is why another great method to building strong human firewalls is to incentivize your workforce. Stress to them how important it is to be vigilante when it comes to these threats. After all, if it costs the company money and loses them business, it costs them money as well. A breach can even impact them personally, if social security numbers or credit card information is leaked. Give a small bonus to your secretary who

caught that phishing email. Buy your IT department a fancy lunch for shutting that malware attempt down. Send out a company email recognizing those that went

above and beyond internally to protect your business.

GO ALL IN

You may be reading this and think “Ok, I need to make sure a few departments are in on this.” It is important to remember that these cyber-criminals don’t discriminate when it comes to social engineering attacks. Everyone on your staff, from your accountants down to the custodial staff and mail room need to be in the loop when it comes to being human firewalls. These crafty hackers do everything from using cloned or even stolen key cards to get into secure areas, to disguising themselves as repair men to look over the

shoulder of your receptionist. You would never get a home security system to cover the whole house but the back door, would you? Use the same diligence when

it comes to your network security and your human firewalls. Keep in mind there is no such thing as over-prepared for a social engineering attack, only prepared or vulnerable.

TEST YOUR SYSTEM

Once you have all these tools in place, the final piece of the puzzle is testing your human firewalls. Utilize your security partners and send out test phishing emails. Leave a usb drive around to see if anyone turns it in. You want to keep your team of human firewalls aware and alert and all times so they stay focused on the threats and you can know where your weak points are and can strengthen them.

Let’s go back to Donna for a minute. Donna has undergone all the training and is becoming a stronger human firewall by the day. She gets an email from what appears to be HR asking her to click the link and reconfirm all of her login credentials. However, Donna is savy to the games of these hackers now. She hovers over the link and see it’s not connected to the company. She takes another look at the email and sees all the grammatical issues she would have once over-looked. She realizes the return address doesn’t go to HR, but to some random domain that looks similar. This time, Donna doesn’t respond, she forwards the email to IT and HR, thwarting the potential threat. Give that woman a bonus!