Working from home is becoming a reality for the majority of organisations, and this is no different in the not-for-profit sector. Thankfully technology has made the transition to productive remote work possible, but the change will still be startling and challenging for many organisations.

The biggest key to success: utilizing the online options available to your organisation. There are numerous communication platforms available, and the best part is that so many of them are free (or very cheap)! Below are five online platforms compiled by Connecting Up to help make the transition as seamless as possible.

Google for Nonprofits

Google has generally been efficient in having great resources for free, and they have stayed true to form in the light of COVID-19 by taking direct steps to help charities and not-for-profits:

If you’re not already signed up to the Google for Nonprofits program, you can get started here.

Office 365 and related Microsoft cloud services

There’s a reason Microsoft’s cloud products are everywhere in remote work environments – Office 365 has online versions of the essential tools that every workforce needs, meaning anyone with the internet and a web browser can be a fully functional worker wherever they are:

  • Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneDrive online each have all the essential features of their desktop counterparts
  • Teams, OneNote and Tasks provide a virtual touchpoint for all communications, projects, task tracking and collaboration
  • Sharepoint serves as the central online hub of it all, allowing full visibility, transparency and synchronous work for everyone

Microsoft Teams in particular is designed and optimised for remote teams to work together seamlessly. Teams plugs into all the key Microsoft apps for file sharing, communication, task tracking and project management.

Of course, don’t forget Skype for Business – a classic web app with roots in the earliest days of web-based communication. Skype provides audio and video conferencing, which is vital for remote teams to meet, chat, strategise and brainstorm.

Zoom – video conferencing and collaboration

Zoom is perfect for remote teams. Specifically designed with a distributed workforce in mind, Zoom lets you run video conferences, share your screen with colleagues, run presentations and webinars and a lot more. One of the best features of Zoom is the personal meeting ID – a unique link attached to your user profile that lets you run “instant meetings” at the drop of a hat.

TeamViewer – remote control and support

Your tech support people should be able to work from home too, and TeamViewer is a great app to allow just that. TeamViewer allows remote access and control of work computers from anywhere with at least 3G internet access or better. So your tech people can even provide support from their smartphones! TeamViewer also has an option for remote management which allows your IT security experts to monitor your entire virtual system and keep it running smoothly.

Box – file storage and sharing

There are numerous cloud-storage services available, but the benefit of Box is that charities and not-for-profits can get a perpetual licence (i.e. pay once and get a licence that never expires and never needs to be renewed). Box also has a slight advantage because it was conceived as a business-oriented approach to cloud storage (notable competitors being focused more on individual needs, at least in the beginning).