With the increase in COVID-19 cases, many communities where you may live and serve may have begun requesting organizations to work from home wherever possible. Typically, a planned remote workforce project will take some time and over a few stages before completion.
With the onset of this virus outbreak, remote work for some nonprofit organizations may need to implement very quickly. They will need to deal with resources that may be free or at a low cost, with little to no external support from IT (with luck).
As no two nonprofits are alike, some may not be able to implement work from home options due to the very nature of their service (shelters, healthcare providers, etc.). For those who are capable of making that adjustment, it is hoped that the following information will benefit your nonprofit.
Remote Work Communications Solutions
Provided your organization (like most today) operates with cloud-based nonprofit-based email, you may be in a good position to work remotely already. Both Office 365 Nonprofit and G Suite for Nonprofits have great collaboration and communication features. You may only need to activate additional features to be able to offer remote working as an option.
For Office 365 Clients
Business and Enterprise licenses for Office 365 will generally include Teams. This can be used for:
- Collaboration on documents
- File sharing
- Chats, whether in groups or with team members
- Hosting meetings
- Creation channels—this can include document storage, shared notes and chat functionality
Microsoft has posted a blog about using Teams specifically for this situation.
G Suite for Nonprofit clients
For those who are already making use of the Nonprofit G Suite Basic, Google has now made their Google Hangouts Meet’s (premium) functionality available at no cost until July 1, 2020. This module includes hosting virtual meetings up to 250 people in addition to live-stream events up to 100,000 viewers—all at no cost to you.
For Those Who Do Not Currently Use Office 265 Or G Suite
Video and conferencing platform application Zoom enables both basic online meetings as well as group messaging. Staff participation can be done using a desktop, laptop, and mobile devices. Their support page has tips and tricks to get you up and running quickly.
Facebook’s product, Workplace, is a free product for nonprofits. Think of this product as similar to an internal office Facebook for your employees and volunteers. It is a separate application from personal Facebook accounts.
Workplace was developed to help teams with sharing, communications, and making decisions as a group in an online secure, private space. They have included a blog post recently describing the various ways that Workplace can be used by your staff and volunteers.
Another popular communication tool is Slack. It helps organizations stay connected through direct messages and group messaging. Slack includes channels to be used when there is a need to centralize discussions regarding specific topics. Slack offers a free plan for nonprofits with less than 250 employees.
TeamViewer can also be used for distributed staff in an organization. Your IT department can use this application to manage the devices used (laptops, desktops, etc.) or by the nonprofit staff for collaboration, using online video and collab features. Support for setup can be found on their website here.
Remote Work Collaboration and Document Management Solutions
Remote working often involves not just communications but also having the ability to share and co-edit documents easily. It would be even better if this can be done in real-time to meet critical deadlines (projects and grant proposals included).
For those who currently use Office 365 or G Suite for Nonprofits, collaboration and document storage are already included and may only need to be activated to begin using them.
For Office 365 clients
You will have a variety of options in using cloud-based storage. Microsoft itself comes with its own folder system for storage online called OneDrive. This helps get you up and running quickly, using Office 365’s own integrated tools.
G Suite for Nonprofit clients
For current G Suite users or non-users, Google for Nonprofits includes Google Drive Basic. This is a business module of Google Drive, allowing your team to set permissions for sharing and access. It works with any platform, including Office 365, and is a great cloud-based repository.
Box for clients
Small organizations of ten or fewer licenses (users) can look to Box to move and store documents quickly to a cloud-based storage location. It is very easy to set up, as Box Coaching Corps assists in helping small organizations get up and running.
Permissions when accessing folders and files
Regardless of any online collaboration and storage, take time to consider who will have access and adjust permissions accordingly on your folders, especially when dealing with donor information and any documents that require compliance.