Digital Tools for Remote Working - Our Experience

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There are a lot of blogs and articles around at the moment focusing on remote working and digital so I'm hesitant to add to the noise but sometimes it's worthwhile to hear a different perspective…

Full disclosure, Salford CVS has a digital plan which we were starting to work towards but recent events did more than just kick it up a gear!

We have a great outsourced IT provider but like many organisations, we don't have a specialist in house, so we do appreciate how mind-boggling it can be to decide on the right tools or kit. With this in mind, we thought it would be useful to share our own experiences from the last week.

Before we go into what specific solutions we've adopted, here are some top tips:

  1. Before you decide to buy or use anything - stop and take a breath. Work out exactly what problem you're trying to solve. It is easy to jump to a solution because it's a brand you recognise or because someone else uses it. Especially when under pressure. But that doesn't mean its right for you or your organisation.
  2. Revisit what you have available. You may already have software purchased in packages that you've just not fully used before (especially if you've got an Office 365 license or similar). Or you can use existing resources such as small group conference calls via your mobile
  3. There are several ways to find solutions. Including articles and blogs like this, recommendations or just having a quick google. It is often useful to include the type of software you are searching for and adding "for charities" or if you know the name of one product search for its "best alternatives".
  4. Once you have found options that meet your needs please check their privacy, security and data protection. I could write an article on this alone! But, in nutshell:
    • Check where your data is stored (I wrote a blog about US data storage last month)
    • Do they have a data processing addendum or terms and condition to sign (they should include data protection clauses)?
    • Do they tell you how they keep your data safe (usually via a separate article or in the Privacy Notice)?
    • Check the terms and conditions to see what it says they can do with your data (e.g. record calls, make duplicates, use it for marketing)
    • And finally, do they have an accreditation or certification (ISO27001 or cyber essentials)?
    • Free software is rarely truly free. Often there will be trade-offs which are typically linked to marketing and / or your data. We've also done a brief Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) on each package to record our decision making and what we are doing.
  5. Once you have a preferred option double check if it is available via Charity Digital or search for charity licenses for the product. A lot of companies offer a discount for charities. If you're not sure, then drop them an email - if you don't ask, you don't get!

So, what digital solutions have Salford CVS explored so far…

  • Dropbox - We use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for homeworking but needed a little extra to support collaborative working and key file sharing (in the event of server issues). Currently, Dropbox are offering 3 months of their business licence free as part of their support to charities. This gives us better functionality, storage, security and audit functions compared to their free offer.
  • Zoom - The whole world is zooming at the moment and we are using this video conferencing tool too. We have a full license but staff are also using the free accounts to support short meetings and 1-2-1 meetings.
  • Slack - As standard charities can get a free upgrade to their slack account. We are only just rolling this out across the team but the plan is to support general chat, communications and connectivity. Hopefully reducing the number of emails we send.
  • WhyPay - This is our 'plan B' conference call tool. Essentially for using for team meetings and larger conference calls when our zoom account is in use. They are offering a free 3-month license to charities to support their work at this time.

We have some other tools in the pipeline but these are our starting actions out of the gate. Moving to digital at pace isn't easy but we'll try to blog about our own journey and share our successes and hiccups to support your own digital journey!

Salford CVS
Author: 
Marie Wilson

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Salford CVS & Volunteer Centre
Registered address 
The Old Town Hall 
5 Irwell Place 
Salford, M30 0FN

Tel: 0161 787 7795 
Email: office@salfordcvs.co.uk

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Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; providing specialist information, advice, development support and opportunities for influence and collaboration.

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