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Is your staff spread across multiple locations? Or perhaps you have some virtual volunteers who help out with your website or online community? Just because your some of your staff isn't physically present in your office doesn't mean that they should be left out of meetings and important projects!
The power of technology can bring your entire staff together — whether they're in the office or working elsewhere. Best of all, this technology doesn't have to be expensive, either. TechSoup's catalog has discounted and donated hardware, software, and services to help your staff better telecommute.
Don't let distance get in the way of productive collaboration! These tools from TechSoup and our donor partners can help:
Whether you need to conduct a meeting across continents or hold a training session for remote volunteers, we've got the audio and video conferencing tools you need.
If you or your staff need to access your internal network from outside the office, a VPN lets you do so securely. A VPN is like a tunnel — it is a way to transmit data securely over the Internet between your laptop and your nonprofit's server.
Browse our Cisco catalog for all the security appliances and other hardware you need to set up (and secure!) your network.
When you have remote staff members, your IT department will need some means of reaching them in case something goes wrong with their PCs or software. Eligible organizations can request donated versions of Citrix's remote access programs:
Does your organization use telecommuting tools? Tell us how your staff works remotely in the comments.
Image 1: Rawpixel / Shutterstock
Image 2: Goodluz / Shutterstock
Image 3: Goodluz / Shutterstock
Image 4: tab62 / Shutterstock
Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.
No "virtual volunteers" - only real ones!
Anyway.... I like using Skype chat, Skype audio conferencing, and instant messaging that I can view through Adium, to stay in touch with online volunteers I'm working with, as well as good old-fashioned email. What I like about Skype chat or instant messaging through Adium is that they can see when I'm online, and know I'll answer a DM.
Facebook hasn't been a good tool for me in working with online volunteers, because it's not just about their work - it's about their dog and what they are having for dinner and their kids and on and on - and while it's nice to know a bit more about remote volunteers, on a personal level, work-related messages get lost in all that social clutter.
Wikispaces used to be a really important tool for me for online collaboration with remote staff, but now that they are charging, I'm looking for free alternatives. Same with YahooGroups - it used to be my very favorite online collaboration tool, but now that the discussions are threaded and the interface is so hard to use, I'm now looking for alternatives.
All great suggestions! I've used many of these myself. Telecommute can be rough if you miss the office environment after awhile, but those teleconferencing tools are all great way to stay connected. Thanks GInny!