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Working from home

Working from home: the best tools listed

March 31, 2020 Stijn Mommersteeg - Developer 4 min

Due to the measures against coronavirus, at Dutch Coding Company almost all of us work from home. Because it’s in our nature to stay connected, we use a number of tools that help us to continue to do our job well. In this article, we'll give you some tips on how to stay connected with your colleagues. 

Chatting with colleagues

When it comes to working from home, video calling is probably the first thing on your mind. But chatting is just as important! Nobody wants to spend his days making video calls or phone calls and email conversations quickly become cluttered. A tool that allows you to chat with your colleagues may seem impersonal, but that is certainly not the case. It is a good alternative to keep in touch with each other without having (video) calls all day long. A colleague sometimes is not able to answer the phone, but can send a quick chat message.

Chat programs almost all have the same basic functionality. For each topic you can create a chat channel that team members can participate in. It is possible to share documents, photos, voice recordings and even code, thanks to the Markdown support. If you want to share something personal, you can send private messages that are not viewable by other members.

Slack

Slack is the most popular business communication platform. It has many features to keep in touch with each other. You can ask short questions (in private chats or in group conversations), have a quick word with colleagues and even have video conference calls. Thanks to the Slack app integration with different platforms (such as ZenDesk), notifications will be placed directly into chat channels, which allows you to take action faster. Big corporations such as EA, Oracle and AirBnB are convinced and speak highly of this solution.

Microsoft Teams

For organizations that make use of Office 365, Microsoft Teams is not an unknown phenomenon. Microsoft Teams is a web-based desktop app that offers integration with other Microsoft tools. This allows you to collaborate seamlessly on MS Office documents and presentations. At conference calls, notes can be made within the app and the meeting can be recorded. Like similar chat services, Teams also offers the possibility to create a chat group per topic or having private conversations.

Rocket.chat

At Dutch Coding Company we chat via Rocket.chat. This is our favorite because we can host it ourselves (we like to keep control) and because it is fully optimized for software developers. With Rocket.chat you keep a good workflow by centralizing everything on one platform. It is made for seamless collaboration between teams, DevOps and customer engagement.

Stay connected by video calling

For meetings where chatting is not sufficient, we also are familiar with making video calls. In a video call, participants are more involved in the meeting than they are in a chat conversation. This way we also avoid losing sight of each other in these difficult times. 

There is a huge range of video call software, which makes it quite difficult to choose. The well-known options and our favourites are discussed in more detail later in this article. 

At Dutch Coding Company we use video calling for multiple purposes. Every morning we start with a stand-up: a daily meeting in which we inform each other of our plans for the day. 

In addition, we use video calling when we need to discuss tough issues or when we have a meeting with customers or partners.

But enough serious talk. We also can have a lot of fun online! Before corona we regularly planned meetings to keep it "gezellig", after all that is our second nature. Every day we had lunch together and we didn't miss a single Friday drink. Because we no longer organize this physically, we now have a virtual lunch at 12.30 pm and a virtual drink every Friday night. This way we see each other quite often and keep up the fun!

Google Hangouts

If you use Google Calendar then you probably know it: Google Hangouts, Google's platform for online meetings. When you add a meeting to your calendar, a hangouts link usually is added automatically. Via this platform you can make video calls and share your screen, but it also has the unique feature to attend a meeting via your phone even without internet access.

Skype

An old-time favorite that does the job. The advantage of Skype is that the older generation is familiar with it, it is often even installed by default on their computers and smartphones. But a big disadvantage is that Skype has not kept up with the times by not adding extra functionalities, making it certainly not an all-in-one tool.

Whereby

Working from home, we at Dutch Coding Company like to use the Whereby platform. With no app or installs required, and the same meeting link every time, it is easier for colleagues and customers to participate in a meeting. For each of our active projects we set up a meeting room, so that several meetings can be held simultaneously. And a welcome side effect: for every meeting you host at Whereby they plant a tree, just like us with our hosting packages!

Bonus tip: playing a game together

The close-knit team of Dutch Coding Company likes to keep it ‘gezellig’. One of our team members has therefore set up a Minecraft server, so that we can relax for a while after work. It helps us to lift our spirits. With success: even our colleagues who had not played before, took part!

Stijn Mommersteeg - Developer
Hi I'm Stijn. Developer at Dutch Coding Company
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