2020 was a year. This month we asked our panel how, if anything, the pandemic affected their technology experience.
Dennis Kennedy (DK), Alexander Paykin (AP), Lance Johnson (LJ), Julie Bays (JB) and Sofia Lingos (SL).
What virtual tool would you recommend most to friends, family, and co-workers that has proven to be the most helpful this year?
DK: It was really the year of the zoom, wasn’t it? It is not so much recommended that people use Zoom (or any other video meeting tool) these days, but that people improve their video game. Get to know the functions of the tools, improve your setup and the like. And don’t forget to use the chat tools! I have also recommended Doodle to a lot of people. It’s an easy way to find meeting times that are suitable for a meeting with a group of people without sending a hundred emails suggesting a date and time.
AP: Google Meet – In contrast to the other platforms, Google Meet works directly via the web browser and is free for everyone. Also, unlike Zoom, it offers free automatic subtitles, which are actually quite accurate, which makes ADA compliance a little more realistic.
LJ: The LUME Cube Mini Light Panel. I use a pair attached to my monitors to ensure even lighting during a zoom call.
JB: Microsoft 365 Teams has become my favorite tool for communicating with family and colleagues. It’s easy to use and has various tools to help you organize your life. The face tracking function in teams moves with you even though your camera is stationary. I like this role because it makes it more personal.
SL: With a digital phone system, the transition from working in the office was almost seamless. I’ve always been able to answer calls from my cell phone, desk, or home phone and can easily change them through the RingCentral interface or application. RingCentral has also added robust collaboration software to its services. I use their e-fax and SMS options and find it to be the best virtual answering machine.
What new tools, if any, have you introduced this year to bridge the communication gap between you and your remote workers?
DK: The big one for me is Notion. It’s an attractive, easy-to-use tool that does almost anything you need to collaborate and organize projects. Surprisingly powerful and I’ve always liked it more. The other great tools for me are instant messaging and chat in all forms and on all platforms – Slack, Teams, iMessage, Zoom, and more. Sometimes a short text message, emoji or giffy is enough.
AP: We’ve given all Google Nest Hub Max devices the ability to stay in their home offices so anyone can video chat through Duo. We also use the built-in chat functions of our email client.
JB: I want to say again that Microsoft 365 Teams made it easier to keep our work organized. My co-workers and I organize our chores with buckets that can be moved and updated. We put our deadlines and documents in these different buckets. I would also like to add that Microsoft One Drive has become my only source for document storage.
SL: While it’s not exactly new, I’ve found it important to keep my schedule up to date on Calendly. With the added option of booking a meeting through Zoom and scheduling groups, I found it incredibly valuable to find time to connect as everyone’s availability has changed significantly.
What tip should organizers give family members to avoid awkward Zoom, MS teams, etc.? Moments?
DK: You will likely need to see a large flashing message when mute is off. It’s also a good tip to use a profile photo and only turn on your video camera in group meetings when you’re talking. Opening up and using the chat feature can also be of great help.
AP: Treat each video meeting as if everyone were sitting there with you in person. If you want to do something during a video meeting, ask yourself: would this be appropriate in the conference room? If the answer is no, don’t do it on camera either.
JB: Video conferencing always has one or two uncomfortable moments. Organizers should conduct an exercise video conference with family members who are not familiar with the platform. This will help the family member feel more secure with everyone joining. Organizers should also encourage family members to practice viewing their surroundings with the camera on so they know what others will see during the meeting.
SL: Make sure you are aware of your surroundings when you turn on your camera and mute is your friend. I had coworkers who left confidential client files open and one client who got up without pants. Practice with the technology if you’re not familiar or watch a YouTube video to familiarize yourself with the more professional options.
What do you look forward to most when it comes to technology in 2021?
DK: I always look forward to learning something I don’t know about now. I want to improve my video game, especially video editing, so definitely these tools. Definitely developments in GPT-3 and AI. I am particularly interested in workflow tools. I always keep an eye on blockchain progress. And there is the personal knowledge management project “Second Brain” that Tom Mighell and I worked on and talked about in our podcast. Much more. Wow, there is a lot to look forward to.
AP: While the pandemic is a thing of the past, virtual court appearances and deposits don’t. This saves travel time and time spent visiting livestock by eliminating personal appearances for most litigation-related activities.
LJ: I’m looking forward to the day in 2021 when the new PACER system will be fully rolled out across the country. The new system is a significant improvement over what we had before.
JB: I look forward to easier ways to automate boring or repetitive processes. There are great products out there that already offer ways to automate billing, billing, and customer enrollment, but many can intimidate our lawyers. Our individual practitioners and small businesses need to increase productivity and reduce costs for their customers. The best way to do this is through automation.
SL: The lasting effects of the required implementation of technology from this year. I miss people, but we don’t always have time to meet in person. However, if it could be an email, please don’t schedule a Zoom call!