Telecommuting with OS X Part III – Online Tools

Online Collaboration with Google Apps:
Collaborative work online is one of the latest products from Google. Google Apps is email, calendaring, documents, and a wiki-style site for your organization. This works in the same way as Microsoft Office except you can work on the same document collaboratively with everyone in your department. Since the document (or presentation, or spreadsheet) is contained within Google, you can work on it with co-workers remotely. It doesn’t matter if you are all in the same room or all on different continents. All changes and edits can be tracked, you can see who changed what and what was edited. A great example of this in real usage is a team of authors who are writing different sections/chapters in a book with the editors, spelling and grammar checkers also including their input. You can put together a presentation the same way. Or work on a spreadsheet in this manner.

With Google Calendar you can set your schedule or the department’s schedule and subscribe to other member’s calendars. You can invite and receive invitations to events (Meetings). You can schedule when you (and others in your group) will be in the office or telecommuting from home. With SMS reminders sent right to your phone, you’ll never miss a notification. I use Google Calendar all the time and its great.

Other Online Collaboration Tools:
Google Apps isn’t the only game in town. Some great online applications and services include:

Basecamp – Highly recommended online collaboration tools from 37signals.
Huddle.net – Geared for PR, Advertising, Marketing and more.
Zimbra – Open source collaboration, email and groupware.
Octopz.com – Online video / audio / flash collaboration.
Zoho – Online office productivity and collaboration suite.

It doesn’t matter where you are or what computer you use:
With remote access, technology like Citrix and online collaboration tools, your office doesn’t have to be in your company’s building anymore. It also doesn’t matter what you use for a computer anymore. Whether Mac or Windows, the technology is here for telecommuting from either platform.

In Part IV, we will deal with the Mac specific problem of what to do when the application is Windows only and has to be run locally on your machine. Problem? Not any more…

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