Marketing Moves CEO Melvin Day discusses the best available programs to help companies work from home during Coronavirus.
Death by Email
By now you’re probably been spammed by half the world’s companies telling you how they are dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic – even though you probably don’t use their services and what they sell is of no help whatsoever to staying safe, well and healthy.
Conversely, conspicuous by their absence is any helpful email from your bank, mortgage company or landlord.
During these times, Marketing Moves is carrying on business as usual. Because we’re a flexible working company and we specialise in technology, we’re in a good position to answer a lot of the questions people currently have around working from home. We have no vested interest in any of these companies so our viewpoint is completely objective.
Of course, every person, role and company is different – so what’s best for us might not be best for you. But here’s the first instalment of our definitive list of the best software products for collaborating with colleagues whilst we all are on lockdown.
Please do feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments.
Best Collaboration Software: Google Drive
For us, Google Drive is the best collaboration software. And it’s free. It’s basically Microsoft Word and Excel online, with version control. Anyone who’s sent a Word doc to multiple people for amends and got hundreds changes will know the pain of trying to enforce strict version control on a group of people. Or at least they used to, because they probably use Google Docs now.
With Word, it was highly likely that errors would make it to the final draft because it’s almost impossible to reconcile multiple amends – especially when they contradict each other. It can jeopardise very important documents such as bids and tenders. Google Docs however only has one version at any time – and you can control who can do what by choosing the following permissions: view / comment / edit. You can invite them via their google account, email address or you can send them a link. Under edit, people can suggest so you can see changes. A history of all changes is available too.
It’s the same with Google Sheets, with improvements. For example, in Excel we used to have a proper job splitting a column of full names into a first name and last name column, so that we could address people by their first name in our monthly newsletter. It took well over 10 steps and you were never 100% sure it was perfect – not great for your marketing. But with Sheets, it’s a couple of clicks. Clearly when they launched they wanted to fix all the annoying gripes people had with Excel.
And here’s the big one: ever written a huge document only for your laptop to either die or start an update unannounced? Course you have. We all have. With Drive, that’s a thing of the past. It’s all saved to the cloud, every second.
A really nice program in the suite is Google Drawing. We used to use the Adobe suite for all graphic design but bit by bit we’ve been able to do it with this. It’s quick, easy and has slowly added features that make it a match for any basic software. It’s a bit like Microsoft Paint in that respect, which some people still swear by! Of course, if you need print quality then stick to Adobe as the max pixel size / dpi is fairly small, but for our online needs it’s perfect – InDesign takes up so much memory and often the job is done in Drawing before indd would have loaded up!
Another gem is Google Surveys, and it’s totally free. We used to use Survey Monkey which was fine – and we were happy to pay for the upgraded account. We tried to use it recently and felt it was a mess – very confusing and very expensive. Perhaps the 2018 IPO is to blame. After days of problems we switched to Surveys and it was fixed in literally minutes.
The beauty about Google Drive is that all of these products are stored in what is essentially a hard drive, so you can store all your documents in various folders. You get 15bg free and after that it’s a pound or two per month for up to 100gb. We moved here from Dropbox which was £15 a month for the storage alone, albeit up to 1 or 2 terabytes.
Having storage as part of the package means whole businesses can be based on it – especially if they integrate their emails into gmail. You can store any type of file in the folders too – images, videos, powerpoints and so on. You can also sync it to your desktop although we’d advise against this because it takes up the same memory on your computer.
The ability to store images is important. iCloud has a very low storage limit on photos and videos on your iPhone that you can sync to the cloud before it starts wanting money. It then stops you saving them which is incredibly annoying at best and potentially highly upsetting at worst. If you download Google Pictures and sync that to your camera roll, it automatically uploads them for free and the limit is much higher – and it all syncs with Drive.
All of the above have their own Apps as you’d expect. They are far from perfect though – quite fiddly, sometimes difficult to log in to and make amends – so these are very much desktop programs. However, when the price is this good, who’s complaining.
If this feels like a party political broadcast for Google Inc, then that simply reflects how good it is. Tech companies are bashed every day – often quite rightly but sometimes not. So we felt that it’s important to give credit where it is due. Google has created a product that helps businesses, people and working lives all over the world – and gives it away for free where others have sought profit. There are no adverts, few glitches. Just like Google Maps gave us all the freedom to use our phones and ditch our TomToms, Drive has opened up a whole new world of possibilities away from the confines of Windows. Which is something we need to celebrate in times like these.
Next time I’ll be talking about other options such as Slack, Dropbox, OneDrive, Asana, Wunderlist and Trello. This article was actually supposed to cover them all, but by the time we finished it was already longer than usual.
Oh and what did we write it on? That’s right, a Google Doc.
To discuss in confidence how Marketing Moves can support your organisation’s growth, please contact Melvin by any of the means below.