Work-From-Home Tech Essentials
During our recent ALA webcast, The Flexible Law Firm: Is your practice ready to embrace a work from home program?, there were dozens of questions around technology solutions required for successful implementation of a work-from-home program. You need the right devices, the right processes and the right software that:
- enforce accountability
- keep your team connected and
- make your data accessible (while keeping it secure).
Cloud-based technology has come a long way over the past decade and there are thousands of solutions that are making remote work feasible for teams with even limited IT budgets. The options can be overwhelming.
Today, we’re sharing the top six essentials:
VoIP Phone Service
Unlike landlines that keep you tethered to a physical location, VOIP services can facilitate call routing and forwarding and enable your team to receive and make calls from their mobile devices or laptops. Many VoIP business providers also offer helpful services like auto-attendants, voicemail to email and ring groups for big teams. Vonage, Ring Central and Jive are leading providers of this service.
Cloud-Based, End-to-End Practice Management Software
If you want your team to be effective when working remotely, you need to give them all of the case management and timekeeping tools that they have at the office. Robust cloud-based practice management gives your team access to all of their data from anywhere in the world. This platform should include email management, calendaring, task management, contact management, document management, notes, and multiple ways to track time. And since your billing cycle doesn’t stop just because someone decides to work from home, key parties should also have access to all billing, accounting and productivity tracking in this platform. Zola Suite is the industry’s most robust cloud-based solution, offering your front and back offices all of the tools they need to be productive whether they are in the office or working from home on a snow day.
Virtual Meeting Software
During the webinar, presenter Gail Ruopp, discussed the importance of facetime in the practice of law. There are countless programs that offer video conferencing, screen-share functionality and even virtual conference rooms. Zoom, GoToMeeting, BlueJeans and Google Hangouts are popular options.
Document Management System
On any given day, an attorney or paralegal can work on dozens of different documents. Without remote access to these documents, professionals in your firm cannot be highly productive. Most firms have some kind of document management system in place (iManage and NetDocuments are popular in the legal vertical). Contact your current provider to learn more about remote- access options.
Most people have too many complex passwords to remember them all. An online password vault can help. These secure depositories can be used to store everything from user ids and online passwords to payment information and accounting codes. In the office, they reduce the chance that members of your team will resort to the unsafe practice of attaching sticky notes with passwords to their monitors. For remote employees, this tool allows them to easily retrieve passwords and securely exchange account information with other members of the team. LastPass, 1Password and Dashlane are popular providers.
Productivity Tracking Software
While your practice management software may assist with productivity tracking for your timekeepers, it may prove difficult to assess the productivity of other remote employees. There are a number of applications that can help with time tracking. Use productivity monitoring and even GPS tracking so you can be sure employees are working from a specific location or attending a certain off-site event. Hubstaff, Time Doctor and Timely are options worth considering.
In reviewing this list, you’ll see our recommendations are cloud-based technologies. An alternative to the cloud is a remote desktop connection, but many firms are moving away from this antiquated approach.