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Offsite With Tech Toys

April 24, 2020
Tech toys to help transition to a more comfortable offsite experience.

It’s a different world today than ever before. The COVID-19 virus has changed everything from how we socialize to how we work. A large portion of the workforce has been moved offsite from offices and workplaces, but they are accompanied by some amazing digital technical tools to help them stayed connected, and for our industry — keeps the meter spinning. Not too long ago, the T&D World staff got together in our virtual conference room.

Virtual meetings are a way of life for us since our staff is scattered around the country, some of us work in an office environment, and the rest are in home offices. Usually the only time we all get together face to face is at trade shows or conferences. We were using Microsoft Teams Meeting for our get-together and had nine or 10 people connected in a virtual network through our computers and internet connections.

It all went smoothly, and we were able to see the host’s screen when we needed to look at a document. We could even see each other via each person’s webcam. In the interest of bandwidth most of these were turned off. After the meeting ended, I started reviewing my notes and got to thinking about how far digital technology has brought us. We had a seamless virtual meeting with a lot of participants.

That was a feat not possible when I was introduced to the virtual office back in 2007. That’s when I started my own business, which required me to change my whole way of thinking and working when it came to business, much like so many are undergoing today. There were a lot of challenges back in that era when it came to dealing with business technology, especially in the technical field such as engineering. The technology was really limited when compared to what is available today, and meeting apps led the list.

In those early days it was not uncommon for the host to set up a digital conference and spend the entire time trying to work out the kinks in the software. These online applications were not user friendly, and don’t even think of trying something like video conferencing, but that is not the case with today’s business meeting apps. Heck, even the free video conferencing apps are better than those ancient systems I was describing.

Conferencing Tech Toys

If you haven’t tried these video conferencing tech toys, there are plenty to choose from for getting people together. Don’t forget it is as important to keep touch with your peers and colleagues from technical societies and associations as it is fellow workers. I have found having people from a wide variety of technical areas is a big help keeping current, particularly now when things are changing so much. We need to keep up with technological advancements,— and it is good to get a wide perspective.

As I said, there is no lack of these applications. Experiment with them — it’s fun and a great learning process. I have been playing with several meeting apps like Google Hangouts, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, and Skype to name a few. That way I can be familiar with the more common apps friends and colleagues are using. While I’m at it, I have picked up some other tech gadgets that have made offsite working easier and more productive.

Today’s Tech Toys

So, let’s look at what helps make me work faster and more comfortable now — maybe it can help anyone starting the process. It didn’t take me long to realize that working from a laptop has its drawbacks. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great for mobility and being able to have important files and documents close at hand, but in today’s world of cloud-base computing that thinking is a little old school. My office software can be set up to store any and all files to the cloud as can my photo editing software. Once there, I can access them from any computer available, so I have options.

Another problem I have with laptops are the keyboards and touch pad. I know there are docking stations out there, but I like wireless keyboards and mouse devices. Your hands, wrists and the rest of the body will probably agree if you spend long hours working online. So that is a view of a few tech toys designed to help you transition to a more comfortable offsite experience. Stay connected and healthy.

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