Working From Home: The New Normal

March 19, 2020

In the era of social distancing, see how our teams harness collaborative tools to stay connected and productive.

This is a challenging time. We recognize for many of our clients, working from home was never an option and now it’s suddenly become a necessity. In light of Covid-19, many of our clients have been reaching out to us for advice on remote collaboration.

Let’s just say, we don’t claim to be IT experts…but at G&A, cross-geo collaboration has been a way of working for many years. Between the travel for client meetings and site visits to working remotely from home, hotel rooms and airports, we’ve developed a methodology that has allowed our teams to work well together, no matter their physical location.

Since last week, G&A has been challenged to scale our collaboration tools to embrace working entirely from home around the world. In response to your questions, we put together our ways of staying connected and productive, hoping this will be a good resource to lessen the burden of a quick transition. If nothing else, reading this will give you a break from trying to homeschool your kids, or allow your pets some personal space!

Here’s how we’re doing it.

Our Technology Stack

The core collaboration tools that keep us connected and productive:

Each tool starts with a low monthly fee per user and scales up depending on the number of people and features. Take a look at each link for detailed pricing tiers. See how we apply each tool below…

Face-to-Face Communication

Google Calendar

Calendar sharing allows our teams to schedule meetings on-the-spot, without the back-and-forth to find a time when multiple people can meet.

Pro-tip: keep calendars up to date, including personal (private) appointments or scheduling blocks of time for focused work. This way, teams can reliably schedule appointments for the first go-around.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is an inexpensive/free tool (part of G-Suite) to connect with remote teams, clients and partners. We use this tool to power virtually all our meetings, as it allows for face-to-face communication and screen-sharing. 

Pro-tip: Hangouts can support video chat for up to 25 people at a time, although only the 10 most active people will be displayed on-screen. For a larger group, switch to Zoom.

Zoom

We find Zoom to be the best tool for connecting and collaborating. We use this platform for large group chats that involve face-to-face conversations as well as real-time co-annotation. Zoom’s basic features are free for meetings of up to 100 people, capped at 40 minutes each.

Pro-tip: We love using Zoom’s co-annotation tool to create live whiteboard drawings. 

Collaboration

Google’s G Suite

Using the full G Suite, we harness the power of collaborative tools to fuel our daily work from developing documents and spreadsheets to creating slide decks. G Suite allows everyone in our workspace to collaborate in real-time on shared files. Through this tool, we can track changes, comments, and notes; and manage who can view, edit, or comment on each file. 

Slack

The name Slack stands for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”—and that’s exactly what’s so fantastic about it. Nothing is lost to an email inbox or individual team member. For this reason, we’ve transitioned from email to Slack for all our internal communications. When a new team member or client is added to a channel, they can get up to speed by simply reading all previous messages, comments and shared documents. Our teams use Slack to collaborate and share ideas on projects, as well as to share knowledge, inspiration and—especially right now—words of encouragement. 

Pro-tip: Integrate Google Drive, Calendar and Asana with Slack to manage all communications and comments in one place.

Project Management

Asana

We use Asana because it’s a robust project management and collaborative tool. While more expensive for larger teams, it’s a fantastic tool for managing major initiatives, allowing for better transparency into progress and timelines. By creating Portfolios, leadership can review progress at a high level, while teams can use tasks and sub-tasks to drill a project down to any level of detail that supports their work.

Pro-tip: We use Asana for everything from onboarding new staff members to tracking marketing outreach.