The Most Important Tool For Working Remote

I do not believe that there is a particular secret to successfully running an online company, but there is one tool that we use at PC Pitstop that is vital to our success and cohesiveness. That tool is called Mikogo.

Mikogo is an online screen sharing program that allows you to show your screen to someone else or vice versa. Mikogo is 100% free for personal use, and it looks like they might start charging business customers. Mikogo also has several competitors so if they start charging, I think it will be a small and reasonable fee. Time will tell.

Here’s why Mikogo is so important. When talking on the phone, by and large, the conversation 90% of the time is focused either on what I am working on, or what they are working on. Almost immediately, as CEO, I will say, “Let’s do a Mikogo”. One of the reason that I like Mikogo more so than some of their competitors is that Mikogo is fast. In less than 10 seconds normally, the other person is seeing my screen. Some of Mikogo’s competitors can take over 5 minutes to connect, and that 5 minutes seems like an hour.

There are many many ways that we use Mikogo at PC Pitstop, but here are a few that make it an invaluable tool for me and everyone else at PC Pitstop.

Get to know somebody. One of the big flaws at a virtual company is that it is really hard to get to know people. For example, in a regular office, people give out many visual signals every day. If they are tired, if they are frustrated, if they are in a great mood. In a virtual company, you get none of that. This also translates in the work environment too. Many employees get frustrated and they are also embarrassed to admit sometimes their frustration. That’s where Mikogo comes in. You ask to see their screen and they can explain what they are tackling. In less than a few minutes, you can tell whether someone is cruising through a project, or struggling and afraid to ask.

This is also a far better experience than the physical office experience. In a regular office, one person is typically seated, and the other person is slightly hunched peering over the other’s shoulder. With Mikogo, both people are relaxed for maximum benefit.

Creative Projects. Brainstorming takes on a whole new life with Mikogo. Groups can work together on a script for an ad, or we can work together to create the UI for our new upcoming product. It all becomes easier with Mikogo. Literally on these projects, we screen share for hours on end, until the creative end result is achieved. It is truly a meeting of minds that could not be achieved without Mikogo.

Coding. If you are a coder, you will know what I am talking about. You hit a snag. The code is not behaving as you intended even though yesterday it was working great. You are frustrated and that is part of coding. Since we are virtual, you are pretty much alone. This is a good thing because you should try to exhaust all of the things at your disposal, but if you are still frustrated, now there is Mikogo. You can share your screen to another coder and fairly quickly another person can get up to speed on the problem. Sometimes the other coder can help find the problem but I have found that it is sometimes just a good exercise to take a breath and explain the problem to another person. Either way, Mikogo facilitates the solution.

Analysis. This is the opposite of a creative project. This is hard core number crunching, left brained analysis. All of your column and rows need to add up properly and it must be perfect. The purpose of these analysis are usually financial such as to analyze the effectiveness of our advertising campaigns, or to understand our financial projections between now and the end of the year. Mikogo makes it far easier to bring together the people that collect the numbers, and the analysis all in one place. Without Mikogo, quite often these analysis would take weeks instead of days.

There are just a few of the many ways that we as a company use Mikogo on a daily basis. Here is another useful tip for Mikogo.

Twice a year we all get together as a company so we can get to know each other better. Everyone brings their computer with them and we have a series of presentations. Instead of renting an overhead projecter or an LCD screen, we use Mikogo. In this way, the presenter shares their screen with the rest of the group. Even if we are all in the same room, we save money using Mikogo. Plus I like having the lights on.

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