• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

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Remote meeting apps, software, and such

Big Owl

Cyburbian
Messages
2,624
Points
30
This current situation has me realizing that I am a luddite when it comes to remote meeting technology. Some of you guys on the dark side are more aware of this technology than some of us public sector folks. What are you guys using? What's easy to use? What's the easiest solution for the general public? Are you using tablets, smart phones, or desktops?
 

Salmissra

Cyburbian
Messages
5,938
Points
30
We are using a variety, depending on the needs of the meeting.

Zoom is good for video calls, stable connection with minimal if any hiccups.

Skype for Business is good for IMs, not so great for video.

WebEx is good.

Uber Conference is great for conference calls. I haven't used it for video, but I might be soon. One feature they have is that they will transcribe the meeting (take notes) and email them to you afterward. You have to select that option, so I haven't tried it yet, but will soon.
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
5,281
Points
34
Dark side, firm of about 1,100 with multiple offices nationwide. My office is the second largest in the firm behind our corporate HQ. The team I lead is used to supporting projecst out of other offices in our region, and I also pull in folks from other offices as needed to support some of the work I lead, so we are well positioned for the current situation. Here's how we're doing it:

  • All offices are still technically open, but we moved to "telework if you can" earlier this week.
  • We allowed staff to check out computer equipment they normally use in the office as needed to improve their set up at home to facilitate a long term telework situation.
  • We moved our phone system to Zoom a couple of months ago. Yesterday was the first full day of most folks working from home, so there were a few hiccups with conference calls in the morning, but that was resolved by midday.
  • The larger team I report up through had a video call (via Zoom) with about 18 folks late yesterday afternoon to cover new safety SOPs for fieldwork, and it went off without a hitch. It went so well that my boss started talking about scheduling virtual happy hours to keep folks engaged. :beer:
  • Mirroring Sal again, Skype for Bidness is great for PMs.
  • I've asked my team to check in with me daily, even if it's just a one-line IM to let me know they're alive and online.
  • I'll be checking in with clients today to brief them on how we're working to conduct business as usual and to discuss any changes we need to make in our support of them, including how to handle meetings.
  • I do not envy the hours our corporate IT folks are facing to keep the servers and SharePoint up to speed...
 

Bubba

Cyburbian
Messages
5,281
Points
34
Dark side, firm of about 1,100 with multiple offices nationwide. My office is the second largest in the firm behind our corporate HQ. The team I lead is used to supporting projecst out of other offices in our region, and I also pull in folks from other offices as needed to support some of the work I lead, so we are well positioned for the current situation. Here's how we're doing it:

  • All offices are still technically open, but we moved to "telework if you can" earlier this week.
  • We allowed staff to check out computer equipment they normally use in the office as needed to improve their set up at home to facilitate a long term telework situation.
  • We moved our phone system to Zoom a couple of months ago. Yesterday was the first full day of most folks working from home, so there were a few hiccups with conference calls in the morning, but that was resolved by midday.
  • The larger team I report up through had a video call (via Zoom) with about 18 folks late yesterday afternoon to cover new safety SOPs for fieldwork, and it went off without a hitch. It went so well that my boss started talking about scheduling virtual happy hours to keep folks engaged. :beer:
  • Mirroring Sal again, Skype for Bidness is great for PMs.
  • I've asked my team to check in with me daily, even if it's just a one-line IM to let me know they're alive and online.
  • I'll be checking in with clients today to brief them on how we're working to conduct business as usual and to discuss any changes we need to make in our support of them, including how to handle meetings.
  • I do not envy the hours our corporate IT folks are facing to keep the servers and SharePoint up to speed...
Update - we now have close to 700 folks teleworking full time - our wonderful IT folks at corporate pushed through a massive upgrade to our VPN system last night. Speeds are noticeably faster this morning.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,393
Points
33
900 employee firm. Went full digital/telework last week for the entire company. We are operating each office based on local government direction, but companywide all are authorized to telework now.

Have been using Skype for Business for years--about to transition to Microsoft Teams. I'm not a fan of Skype, so I'm happy to see the change. Our urban planning + design group is now the official guinea pig of all tech/communication rollout at the company since we're the ones that push limits of capabilities and have the most understanding. We start using Teams this week.

Have been using Zoom as well and just bought an advanced license. We'll be trying out some of the features like breakout rooms.

We also just programmed a virtual open house web interface, and are working on a few others. Beta tested with a client last week and it went off successfully.

The real game changer has been virtual machine technology through firms like VMWare. I don't know how our BT folks pulled it off, but we're now able to run full 2D rain on mesh stormwater models from the comfort of our own homes faster than when we were in the office. Those folks are heroes.


Quite honestly, this has gone so well that I suspect we are about to rethink some planned office expansions and may make some telework policies permanent. Personally, I would rather be in an office. I'm struggling to focus and I'm missing true in-person collaboration.
 
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