How we work online during the Coronavirus pandemic | SolarBI

How we work online during the Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus - SolarBI
James Daley

James Daley

Co-Founder @ SolarBI

Coronavirus has hit nearly every country impacting millions of people worldwide in a variety of ways. This visualisation shows how far it’s spread along with the number of those struck down by the illness. Along with impacting our health, Coronavirus is impacting how we work. Here at SolarBI, we work in a remote working space every day, and now we’re pushing this to its limits. This is how your workplace can too on the comfort of your own home.

Our day-to-day technology tools are common yet vital to how we work.  The important ones for us are SlackAsana, Gsuite, Github and AWS.  We use these to give us maximum transparency across tasks, conversations, files and code revisions.  These were staple tools for us before Coronavirus impacted our business operations, and lately we’ve had to introduce a few new tools which could help you too! We’ve tried, tested and introduced these four tools which are super-fast to deploy and are low or no-cost.  You should try them too! 

Slack Logo - SolarBI

Email is over.  Instant chat has arrived.  Slack helps us to communicate in real-time, ensure everyone is on the same page and has a bunch of add on features or integrations to meet almost any communication or project management need. Better yet, Slack has some great free plans to get started. At SolarBI, Slack has transformed the way we work – it is my number one rated tool for working online.

Cloudflare Logo - SolarBI

We’ve got some internal apps we don’t want to publish to the whole world.  Cloudflare Access creates a secure tunnel (via Argo Tunnel) to your web app, and puts an authentication front-end bolted on.  Users can then authenticate with many identity providers and tunnel through to your internal web app.  For us we used Google authentication and quickly got our staff to start accessing internal apps via a browser anywhere in the world – making remote working easy.  Cloudflare are offering 500 seats til September for free.

Pritunl VPN - SolarBI

If you’re trying to access your whole network quickly, check out Pritunl.  We’ve been using Pritunl for years.  It’s a neat wrapper to OpenVPN with a comprehensive UI and extended functionality.  You can deploy it on a docker or a virtual server with a choice of operating systems. For us we run it on an Ubuntu AWS EC2 for the time being.  Once it’s set up in your network, it can safely bridge remote users to your network.  And the Pritunl Client app is really simple, clean and it just works.

Backblaze - SolarBI

At times we need to move large volumes of data quickly to a central store – never more so than now to enable staff working remotely to access what they need.  I find the conventional cloud services can be inadequate for bandwidth or are too much work for something simple.

I’ve found using Backblaze B2 Storage is crazy cheap and is perfect for getting large data sets shared across users.  This blog talks about how a film company got this happening for them. And the best client tools I’ve used for Backblaze B2 are Cyberduck (FTP style client) or MountainDuck (drive mount).  

Another great site to check out is the Open for Business Hub who has collated free-service offerings from tech companies during the pandemic.  There are tonnes of great tech companies who are enabling remote working to be comfier as the days of desk spaces and ‘can you email me the document’ come to an end. Indeed, we need these online tools now more than ever.

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