Posts Tagged ‘file sharing’

Conduct meetings online with Bench

The corporate world is moving from physical to virtual offices. The days of going to office and attending important meetings are becoming fewer by the number. And why shouldn’t they be? With the increase in transport and logistics problems, everybody prefers to stay at home and finish their work from there. In the bargain, they save some precious travelling time. With this increasing trend, we hear more terms like work from home, freelancing, and so on.

While the problem of staying connected to the network is increasingly solved by better remote network solutions, the challenge lies in connecting with your clients. The audio/video toll-free bridges did solve the problem to some extent, but that was all they could do: share voice and video. The need urgently arose for more. Organizations were looking for not just interaction, but collaboration. People needed to not just see and hear but also share more data in real time.

The online market cottoned on to this need of the hour and a huge surge in the number of online collaboration tools and applications was witnessed. In the last few years, many such applications have been launched with their number still increasing.

With so many competent tools out there, how do you pick one? Well, we’re here to help! Today we bring to you the complete, tried-and-tested review of Bench. Read on to know if this online meeting platform can actually do what it claims: get shit done!

Benching with Bench

The highest selling point of Bench is that it works on a browser. That means you don’t have to worry about downloading the program, checking if it is compatible with your system, installing it, and encourage other people to download it. Just log on to your account in Bench and share the browser link with your meeting participants. It’s really that simple!

Think of the Bench as a physical work table that is used by all parties to work on and share what they are working on in real time. With Bench you can send text messages, make notes, share files, and even work on the files together as a team. And the best part of it all is that everything you do on the bench stays there unless you wish otherwise.

Let us take a look at some of the best features of Bench:

  • No more dialing-in business. With Bench, all you need to do is share your browser link with your team and you are set to collaborate.
  • Sending agendas on emails is in the past. You can make a note of things you wish to discuss with your team and share it with them before the meeting.
  • Bench comes with a whiteboard, so if during the meeting you need to sketch something out or just showcase your creativity, you can use the whiteboard to shine. Of course, everybody can work on the whiteboard simultaneously; that’s what collaboration is, isn’t it?
  • It allows you to share screenshots of single tabs, the whole desktop, whatever you need.
  • The files you want to share with the rest of the team can be saved before the meeting starts. The tool gives you the facility of creating folders and saving all your files in them. The folder is accessible by all participants.

The audio quality of Bench is out of this world. Give it a try, you will really feel like you are all working on a single work bench. The tool is a fun to work with and ensures full participation of all parties in the conference.

How to work with Bench

There’s no installer program that comes with Bench; just a light-weight extension that can be installed on your browser. It takes no more than a few seconds. There is a demo available on the tool’s website that you can check out to learn about it quickly. It doesn’t need to sign up too!

To start using the tool you need to create an account. Click on “sign up” on the top right corner and punch in your credentials to do that. Once you create an account, Bench gives you a dashboard with your benches listed on it. You can click the New Bench button in the right navigation pane to create a new bench. The bench you create will be displayed within your dashboard. Click on it to open it.

After you open the bench, click the Invite to talk button in the left navigation pane to share the link of your meeting with everybody else. To share files with your team, click the Add files button in the right navigation pane. You can drag-and-drop files into the tool’s interface, click to browse, or upload them via online platforms like Dropbox.

To create notes that you need to focus on in your next meetings or just points you need to remember, click the Note button. Clicking the Whiteboard button opens a drawing space with all the required drawing tools you might need. They’re pretty basic but then, to present more complex ideas you’d be using a proper presentation tool, right? Other options include New Folder creation and Streaming and Screenshot that allow you to show your browser and desktop to the other participants LIVE.

To go back to your dashboard, click on “My Benches” on the top left.

Pros VS Cons

Key benefits of the tool include:

  • The tool is free of cost so it’s ideal for freelancers and non-profit organizations. They have reasonably priced packages for teams as well as organizations.
  • Bench really does a good job at making remote working stress-free since everything is done in real-time.
  • The tool is completely collaboration-friendly; doesn’t need any installations.

Drawbacks include:

  • The first time you use Bench, you might get a little confused with so many things happening at once. But since the learning curve is pretty low, everything starts to make sense really soon.
  • We really wish it could work with mobile phones. While it does work on tablets, we are hoping mobile integration is somewhere on the roadmap.
  • Make online collaboration fun, with Bench usebench.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Take

Other than the few obvious limitations, we absolutely love Bench. And we totally encourage you to give it a chance. In our opinion, Bench could be better than any other collaborating app there exists today in the market.

Work, Talk & Share with your team in real time with Slack

If you’ve ever managed or been a part of a large team, you know how irritating it can be to wait for formalities like an approval to arrive in your mailbox before you can technically proceed. Similarly in the case of reports, even after you’ve just had a presentation or discussion within your team regarding results, you need to make it formal by typing a lengthy email with a report attached and send it to everyone on your mailing list; too cumbersome and frankly unnecessary if you ask us. It would all be much simpler if there could be something more informal and personalized that could be whipped up and shared quickly eliminating all time and technical constraints.

The good news is that a great app called Slack allows you to do just that!

slack

Slack – Real time messaging for corporate teams!

As much as it sounds like just another messaging app, it’s actually not. This app is designed specifically for professionals who wish to make inter-team communication better and simpler. With just the right mix of messaging-app glamour and corporate professionalism, this application is well on the track to become the next big thing.

Slack brings together so much in such a light look-and-feel that you’ll have a hard time initially to sink so much in. You can find something from most social platforms here – a little bit of WhatsApp (messaging groups, image sharing), pinch of Twitter (tag based topic search, referring people through @ tag) and more.

Some great features of Slack include:

1. Group conversations

Create channels (or more commonly called groups) within the team or with only a bunch of people specific to a task and communicate with them from anywhere at any time without having to be restricted to VPNs or emailing formalities. Add that personal touch through one-to-one private messages in case of sensitive matters. You can choose to create channels based on projects, teams or even a topic.

2. Share files

Get over traditional email attachments; drag-and-drop is the way to go with Slack. Just drag a document, screenshot or report in a group to share it with all participants instantly, without having to wait for them to check their email. You can even share presentations or videos through Slack and get immediate feedback and comments on it to start a discussion. Moreover, if you use services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box, just paste the link and that document is immediately in sync and searchable too.

3. Easy, extensive search

Slack makes searching for items easy. Just type in what you wish to search in the search box and whether it is a conversation, an item or a person, everything will be searched within milliseconds and you’ll see the results before you in a flash. Slack automatically indexes and archives stuff to make this possible.

4. Stay synced

If you frequently switch machines or platforms, you needn’t get into complications like exporting items or converting mailboxes. Slack being an online tool lets you stay in sync whether you work from your PC or your Smartphone so you can pick up exactly from where you left.

5. Custom notifications

Slack makes sure you never miss a thing or even be late in noticing. With custom notifications, you can make sure your phone or PC beeps every time you’re mentioned or an item is shared with you. Or if you prefer to not be disturbed, you can set that too.

6. Secure and safe

We’re sure that was the last item on your mind; well consider it checked too! All data within Slack is encrypted (256-bit AES and TLS 1.2) on the desktop or the phone. The makers perform security testing regularly to identify and resolve any loopholes so you can rest assured that your confidential data won’t be leaked online.
Aren’t you just dying to try it out?

slack1

So how does it work?

To start using Slack immediately just signup for free through the tool’s website. You’ll need to supply your email address, pick a name for the channel you wish to create, pick a URL, choose a username for yourself and you’re done!

Click on ‘Explore Slack’ and you’ll be directed to the main chat-share screen where you can get hands-on action done. You can start by inviting people to join Slack or join an existing team that you know of. Thereafter, create as many channels as you need to. All your channels and people in your network will be listed in a panel on the left hand side of the window. And if you get confused about things, there’s a handy helpful tutorial to help you out.

Drag-and-drop items from your PC or phone into the chat window’s text box to share instantly. If you want to browse through the files shared with you or that you’ve shared, click on a small 3-dot icon on the upper right corner of the window. This corner of the window also has a search box, an ‘@’ sign to search for conversations where you’ve been mentioned and a star icon indicating items that you’ve marked as favorite.

Pros VS Cons

In addition to the list of awesome features it has, the practical plus points of Slack include quick image transfer, no VPN requirement, availability in both forms – client installation as well as web tool, freedom to create as many channels as you want depending on the requirements of your team, notifications if someone on the team is online and lots and lots more. The best part of this tool is that its basic version is free for as long as you want; meaning you don’t have to pay a penny if you just wish to use its basic version. For standard, premium and enterprise (launching in 2015) versions however, you need to pay a nominal fee. But then you get a lot of additional features too so it’s a win-win deal.
The only con with this tool seems to be slight connection issues on some mobile networks or client machines. But this issue too seems to be temporary so you shouldn’t really be worried.

  • Get over emailing formalities. Make work and sharing simpler and informal with @SlackHQ slack.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Verdict

All-in-all, Slack is a great tool for collaborating with your team and inculcating a bit of informal, happy work environment setting. You actually don’t have anything to lose so try it out with a couple of teammates just for fun and experience it for yourself.

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