Free Services Your Business Needs Right Now. Here’s a list of FREE and discounted services for your school, church, or business

With so many people now telecommuting from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and organizations around the world are scrambling to adopt remote-work practices. Whether its video conferencing, remote team collaboration, virtual classrooms, or other activities, there are free and discounted services available to you. We’ve put together a curated list to help you sort through the chaos of work-from-home!

Google Hangouts Meet

Focus: Video conferencing service and online productivity tools.

Offer: Google Cloud has announced free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet videoconferencing capabilities for all customers of its G-Suite and G-Suite for Education services. This enables calls of up to 250 people and also allows meetings to be recorded and saved on Google Drive.

Loom

Focus: Video messaging service.

Offer: Loom is scrapping a limit on the number of videos that a user can access under its free plan through July 1 (previously the limit was 25) and extending the free trial period of its premium Loom Pro service from 14 to 30 days. It’s also making Loom Pro free for students and teachers at K-12 schools, universities and other educational institutions with no time limit.

Microsoft Teams

Focus: Team collaboration and communication platform.

Offer: Microsoft Teams, the company’s collaboration and communication platform, is scrapping the user limit on its free version, which was previously restricted to 300 people. Microsoft has also announced it is making the basic version of its Office 365 enterprise suite of productivity tools such as Word and Excel free for six months to organizations, which gives users access to the premium version of Microsoft Teams.

Slack

Focus: Team collaboration and communication platform.

Offer: Slack is offering free upgrades to paid plans for organizations working on coronavirus research, response or mitigation, as well as to local media organizations and scientific publications covering these areas. The company has also removed the 250-user cap on its Standard Plan service for all nonprofits for three months.

Zoom

Focus: Video conferencing service.

Offer: Zoom has removed a 40-minute meeting limit on its free Basic accounts for students and teachers at K-12 schools in America. The company has partnered with Clever, the most widely used single sign-on service used by U.S. school districts, so that schools who don’t have access to its service can get it quickly. It has also scrapped time limits on meetings for K-12 schools in a growing list of other countries impacted by COVID-19.

And as always, Stickboy

Focus: Technology Partner

Offer: With a flip of a switch any of our clients can have remote access to any of their workstations inside their office as long as they have internet access.  We are giving away two months FREE of our services to get you through this time.

If you need any help implementing these or other remote-work solutions, please contact us today.

239-206-1193 | [email protected]

The Art Of Running A Productive Business When Your Team’s No Longer In Arm’s Reach

Anxiety, worry, and uncertainty. These are three feelings plaguing the workforce in these trying times. Luckily, you have us, so worry no more! We’re going to review for you some quick tips for maintaining an excellent and amiable corporate culture remotely so your team can continue to be the rock stars you hired them to be.

The secret ingredient in our secret sauce? Meetings. Hold internal meetings. Already holding internal meetings? Hold more. You want to aim for (at a minimum) daily standup meetings. To keep things productive, focus on these tips.

Turn On Your Webcam

A photo says a thousand words. A video could fill a novel with words. The easiest way to replace face-to-face contact is to encourage cam-to-cam contact. Seeing your team (and letting them see you) will build trust and reassure your team. There are tons of video conferencing options out there (Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, etc), so just pick one and run with it!

Provide A Dial-In Option

Video conferencing is great, but it does have some hardware requirements (webcam and microphone). Additionally, with an increase in remote work, some cities are reporting slowing internet speeds. To combat these issues, ensure your video conferencing solution allows for your team to participate via phone. Make it clear to them, however, that video-first is the new norm.

Test It, Then Test Again

In times of crisis, your team will be looking to leadership for guidance. You have the solemn responsibility of appearing calm and composed at all times. To that end, make sure your technology works before the meeting starts. Nothing derails a meeting quicker than technical difficulty. Simply hop on the call 5-10 minutes early and make sure video’s coming in clear, audio is working, and all the bits-and-bobs are in place. Most video conferencing software has a quick “mic check” you can run before the meeting.

Put On Your Best Face

Avoid minimal distractions on your video feed. Remote workers should attend the call in a designated spot. The background should be clean and their faces should be visible. It lends the meeting the professionalism and seriousness it deserves.

Have An Agenda, And Keep It Short

Before every meeting assemble a clear agenda and distribute it to the team. Keep the meeting short (this is a touchpoint, not a seminar). Keep presentations to a minimum, and (again) keep them short. You want to keep everyone interested and on task.

Break The Ice

Incorporate small icebreakers into your meeting. The hokier, the better. Small activities like this remind your team that they are indeed a team. Encourage participation. Strive for laughter. They may seem silly, but they make a difference.

Put Someone In Charge

Keeping in-person discussions on-topic is hard enough. Virtual ones can turn into a circus quickly. Assign each meeting a facilitator who’s in charge of guiding the conversation. This will allow your team to focus on the content of the meeting without being thrown off-course by idle chatter.

Call On People

Video conferences can be intimidating, and it’s commonplace for one or two voices to take control of the conversation. Make sure everyone has their voice heard. If they don’t speak up, call on them. When it comes to decision making, try to “go around the table” before the decision is finalized.

Tackle The Tough Issues

It may seem natural to wait to discuss tough issues until everyone is in person, but that may not be an issue. So don’t shy away from the controversial topics. It is better to address it now rather than regret it later.

That Wasn’t So Hard, Now Was It?

Not being able to work together in the same room with colleagues will become a major hurdle in the coming weeks, but with small adjustments you can quickly overcome this challenge. Meeting virtually is a learned behavior, and you’ll be amazed how much you can get out of it once you and your team begin to be comfortable working this way. 

Remember, a small investment in preparedness now will have a huge impact on your business’s profitability and longevity.

Need help with getting a remote work solution in place? Get in touch today. We’ll help you out!

[email protected] | 239-206-1193

Florida Man Tries 8 Remote Collaboration Tools. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!

Did that catchy title get you in here? Good. Close the door and take a seat. We need to have a serious conversation.

Throughout the course of this pandemic, your business will be the victim of many traumas. But your worst enemy isn’t coronavirus. It’s not a dropoff in sales. It’s not a shortage of toilet paper.

The greatest danger facing your business is a loss of employee productivity.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of web-based collaboration tools that will keep your team communicating and your business running like a well-oiled machine!

Google Drive

File Sharing // Free with paid upgrades // Get it here

Google’s Drive product is one of those how-do-they-offer-this-for-free services. Boasting a whopping 15GB of free storage space, Drive allows you and your team to easily store and share files from the cloud. The service is designed to sync across devices (you can access your files from your phone!) and includes free access to Google’s collaborative office suite as well. All for the crazy low price of nothing.

Microsoft Onedrive

File Sharing // Free with paid upgrades // Get it here

Let’s be honest. Onedrive is the gas station pizza of file sharing tools. There are definitely better options out there, but if you’re really craving file sharing, it gets the job done. Onedrive features 5GB of free storage. It’s saving grace and the reason we’re including it on this list? It integrates directly with the desktop version of Microsoft Office, so you’ll be able to edit and files directly within Onedrive. Paid tiers expand on this functionality, granting access to the online versions of Microsoft’s office suite.

G Suite

Productivity Suite // $6/mo with optional upgrades // Get it here

The only paid option on this list, G Suite is a product we couldn’t recommend enough. For the low price of $6/mo you gain access to a massive suite of productivity, communication, and collaboration software.

  • Office suite: Google Docs, Sheets, Presentations, and Forms
  • Communication tools: Hangouts Meet, Hangouts Chat, and Currents
  • Email and calendar solutions
  • Enhanced Drive functionality.

The best part? Every one of the G Suite softwares talks to each other seamlessly! And if you need additional functionality on top of the Google-provided tools, their Marketplace offers a huge selection of free and paid third-party addons.

Google Hangouts

Communication Tool // Free with G Suite // Get it here

One of the primary reasons we like G Suite so much, Google Hangouts is a free video conference offering. Out of the bot it supports up to 100 participants. You can schedule calls through your calendar or start impromptu meetings with the click of a button. It integrates directly with your preferred calendar solution. It supports screen-sharing and participate-by-phone (paid features in most other conferencing software).

Slack

Communication Tool // Free with paid upgrades // Get it here

Slack is the chat service favored by companies both large and small. It’s familiar interface makes it easily usable by both the tech-savvy and the not-so-savvy. Communication is fast paced and separate channels can be created for various groups and projects within your organization. It features a huge assortment of integrations with third-party software and allows for video calling as an optional upgrade.

Zoom

Communication Tool // Free with paid upgrades // Get it here

Zoom is the go-to video conferencing software for many organizations. It allows easy peer-to-peer video calls as well as group conferencing. The free tier is limited to 40-minute calls, but the service can be upgraded to remove this limitation. Zoom does require the user to install software locally to function. This can be a barrier for entry with clients, so we tend to steer more towards Hangouts Meet internally.

Microsoft Teams

Collaboration Tool // Free with paid upgrades // Get it here

Teams is Microsoft’s answer to remote project collaboration. It supports project-based communication and allows users to easily share pertinent files. It even supports editing those files within the browser. It supports both chat as well as voice and video conferencing. It offers various tiers with varying support for Microsoft’s Office suite.

Teamwork

Collaboration Tool // Free with paid upgrades // Get it here

Teamwork is the deluxe package when it comes to project management and collaboration. It supports project-based task management, time tracking, internal communication, and more. It features a helpdesk, file sharing, and storage. Everything you could possibly need to run a project. It even allows you to share and communicate with clients and other external resources, all from within one handy portal.

Gosh, That’s A Scary Wall Of Text

As you can see there are tons of software options out there to support your business’s remote work program. Perhaps too many options. And unfortunately they’re not one-size-fits-all. If you need help putting your remote work solution in place, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We specialize in remote employee setups.

My Favorite Email Productivity Hack: A One-Two Punch

Sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day, right? You feel like you’re in the middle of an email storm and it’s impossible to find your way out.

Until today.

A few years ago I was turned onto a tool called Follow Up Then, and loved how it allowed me to automate when I follow up with someone (for free!). If I want to make sure I reach out to someone next week, I just have to bcc “[email protected]” and next week it’ll pop back in my inbox. Done and out of my mind.

But then I added a piece to this email management puzzle, almost by accident, really.

We do a lot of process automation here at Stickboy, but I was honestly surprised at how well this was working for my email productivity. What was the trick?

Adding a calendar.

jonah_hill_yes

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Easy Logo Design Tips To Create A Unique And Unforgettable Impression

logo_design

Designing a unique logo is probably one of the toughest parts of creating a brand’s identity. Though it’s just a representative entity, the logo speaks volumes about the credibility of the brand, often to the extent that it’s more identifiable than the name of the company.

Owing to the fact that a logo is the essence of branding, it should be designed to correctly convey your business goals and leave a long lasting impression on the customers. Investing a good amount of deliberation and creativity along with systematic planning is essential to create the perfect logo for your business.

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Do’s and Don’ts of Mobile App Design

dos_and_donts

Do you have an idea you think could set the world on fire? How about creating the next big app that everyone can’t stop talking about? Or are you more focused – there’s an industry in need of a solution and you have the perfect one?

Before you get started writing a single line of code or designing a screenshot for your mobile app, you’ll want to make sure to check our Do’s and Don’ts of Mobile App Design.

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