I haven’t written a blog since the Newtown Sandy Hook Tragedy. That whole event was so close to home that it really affected me, and especially my wife, who is a kindergarten teacher. Living just 10 miles away and being connected through mutual friends to some of those we lost made it extremely difficult to get motivated enough to share anything of real significance, so I took some time off.
Today, though we still mourn those we lost, and the gun control controversy carries on in the media, I thought it was the right time to return to writing this blog (so please excuse the length of it), especially as I’m considering how grateful I am to have the ability to work from home during the Blizzard of 2013: Nemo.
For many years, 10 in fact, I had to make the dreaded long commute down the Merritt Parkway (or Parking Lot) to Stamford, CT. While only about 30 miles door to door, that jaunt would typically take me close to 2 hours in stop and go traffic. On a day like today, it wasn’t always possible to work from home, even though I could have argued how much more productive I could have been yadda, yadda. Many times, in fact, we’d be in the middle of some big product push, or preparing the boss for a meeting, and we’d actually get hit with the brunt of the storm after we were in the office.
On those days, those 30 miles could turn into a 3 or 4 hour treacherous adventure, slip-sliding all the way through the twisty, dark backroads of Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Today, as I sit at my kitchen table, in full lounge-wear: pajamas topped with a terry cloth black & gold Polo robe, a gift of Christmas past, that only comes out on special occasion, I can reflect on how grateful I am for the technology that allows myself and my team to work from home and seamlessly ‘take care of business’.
This morning, I alerted the troops that everyone should work from home. Connecticut is expecting anywhere from 8” to 30” of snow today. (Thank you meteorologists for your accuracy.) So far, from the comforts of home, we’ve been able to migrate a site for pre-launch, engaged in several conference calls, have prepared presentations and followed up on various emails with clients. Before I head outside to fire up the snowblower, I wanted to shout-out several tech companies that helped us get the job done today.
As they say, “Always have your stuff, wherever you are.”
Dropbox is just awesome. We rely on it so much, that everyone on our staff has their own Dropbox folder, and one of the first things we ask new clients is to set up a Dropbox folder of their own. The only drawback to it is that depending on what machine you are using at the time, you might not want to fully sync it with Dropbox because it will use up all your storage space on the hard drive. On my 2TB iMac for example, I’m fully synced, meaning I have an exact copy of whats on the Dropbox on my machine. When I work from home however, I use my MacBook Pro and what I do is log onto the Dropbox website, enter my username/password and gain access to just the files I need. It’s a minor miracle. Grateful for it. Thank you Dropbox.
The convenience of this method of communication goes without saying, but I just want to briefly mention how great it is to be on ‘texting terms’ with some of my clients. It just makes it that much easier, and quicker, and more personal, to get a message across. Today, it served well to inform a few clients that a couple major projects wouldn’t be delivered until Monday. Didn’t need an email to let a client know that we were hunkering down for the Blizzard and wouldn’t be in the office. Texting is a great way to ‘ping’ my team as well, especially during a conference call or just at any spur of the moment when you need an answer quick.
“Wherever they are, wherever you are, Skype keeps you together.”
My web development team likes to Skype because of the ease of use, the screen-sharing capability and the integrated voice/web cam features. We’ve used it with clients as far away as Ireland and the connection is usually pretty good. Not perfect. But what do you want for free. Thank you Skype – you help our team function faster, better, and stronger.
“Get everybody on the same page, when they’re not in the same room instantly.”
We can’t be grateful enough for Join.me. This website is so easy to use, and best of all its FREE. You simply click to share your screen and Join.me generates a code that you can share with everyone that you want to share your screen with. They actually see your desktop and you can walk them through the progress you are making with their project, or you can train them on how to update their own website through the admin login. Its so simple to use and great if everyone is dialing into a conference call already, and you just need a down and dirty (and FREE) way to share your screen. Thank you Join.me – sharing is caring.
“Use GoToMeeting to work with anyone, anywhere, face to face.”
GoToMeeting is like the Cadillac of web conferencing tools. We have one large client in particular that loves to use GoToMeeting and I don’t blame them. When you want a ‘legit’ web conference, GoToMeeting is the way to go. It will generate a memo invite to everyone that you’d like to be in meeting and it has controls and features up the wazoo. You have the option of sharing your desktop as the presenter, or you can give up control to anyone else in the meeting so that they can share their desktop. You also have the ability to see who logged in, and whether or not they are speaking, or have muted their microphone. Its high-speed web conferencing but it’s the only way to go when you need all the bells and whistles. If you want to host your own meetings, you’ll have to sign up and pay for it. Its still free to anyone you invite however. So keep inviting us, please.
Free Conference Calls
“Unlimited Audio Conferencing”
This is probably the first service we actually ever started using and its also the simplest. And its also FREE. All you have to do is log-in and register with an email account, and Free Conference Calls.com will generate a unique phone number / passcode combination for you that will allow you access to your very own conference line 24/7. You can’t beat that. Every once in awhile we do encounter a little hiccup, but it rarely happens. 9/10 times we get a crystal clear connection. It’s a must have for any up and coming business or organization that needs to get many heads on one call. Thank you Free Conference Calls.com.
So, if working from home is SO great, why doesn’t everyone just stay home, save gas and telecommute? The reality is that nothing replaces true face-time. There’s something about actually being in a room with your team to collaborate, or kick off a project, or actually shaking hands with your client while you look them in the eye and say, ‘Thank you, we look forward to working with you on this new project.”
As far as technology has come, human contact, interaction and the energy we give off with a smile or nod will never be replaced. The ability to read body language, inflection and tone to get the full sense of emotion cannot be replicated through a webcam or text message. Face-time will always be King, but working from home once in awhile sure is sweet.
Ramon has over 20 years of experience in award-winning, market-proven, print collateral, marketing material, iphone/ipad app and website design specializing in corporate identity and branding. Ramon’s passion for entrepreneurial design was borne out of 10 years as Creative Director for Jay Walker at Walker Digital, the Stamford based idea laboratory and business incubator holding over 300 US Patents. Ramon served as Senior Art Director on the start-up launch team behind Priceline.com, a Walker company and invention. Most recently, Ramon’s logo and identity work was selected to be published in “Typography and Enclosures” the fourth book in the Master Library series by LogoLounge.
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