When the self-isolation, lockdown and quarantine measures hit one country after another during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, many people had to leave their usual workspace and start working from home.
Some find remote work challenging in many aspects, including meetings and conference organization. Applications used for remote collaboration and conference can be confusing and sometimes have a learning curve to them.
Thought instead of introducing a completely new application, they can be smoothly integrated into your workflow to boost your productivity and save a lot of time.
API (application programming interface) is essentially a set of instructions that allow you to access other application from those you are already using and integrate third-party services into your existing workflows. All popular online communication services such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, etc. have extensive, well-documented APIs that you can integrate into your routine and utilize their features as a part of your system.
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Zoom API is one of the easiest to navigate and one of the more detailed APIs from the list. It allows you to integrate the most notable features of Zoom into your system, such as meeting creation, user management, dashboards and reports. It is flexible enough to allow requests in various languages such as Java, Python, Node etc. Zoom API is quite frequently updated to meet the needs of those who choose to integrate the service into their processes.
A virtual meeting platform eatNgage adopted Zoom as a multi-purpose API solution for audio, video and content sharing and integrated their services into the platform. Through Zoom, they introduced invitation links, scheduling and marketing automation together with a powerful support for their high-load events that involve many attendees.
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Microsoft Teams offers many possibilities when it comes to creating a suitable environment for solving business problems. You can integrate Teams into your system and set up a team, manage users, channels, tabs and other apps to max out your productivity. Within this integration, you can easily organize meetings, audio and video calls and your team’s event schedule. When you are done and the case is solved, you can archive your environment for future historic reference if you so desire.
Despite many features Microsoft Teams has, you can quite easily add on some more integrations that will take the service up a notch. You can integrate multiple bots and assistants into your Teams to automate notifications and smaller processes. For example, Mio Bot helps keep your employees connected and enhances file and messages sharing across all channels, easily connects different teams and even can tie together Teams and other messengers you might be using. In the current situation staying in touch is crucial for any business. In fact, MS Teams bots have become quite popular in these times of remote work. They allow to automate and simplify activities that would usually require a lot of paperwork or involve multiple people from different departments, like schedule a vacation, a working trip, etc.
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Slack, being one of the most popular messaging services that has since grown to be an integral software to many businesses, also has an easy to navigate API. The API allows you to integrate many helpful features into your existing system: from simple messaging that is in the heart of Slack, to workflow automation, approval system and many bots and commands. It also allows you to improve navigation not only inside Slack but inside you whole system of integrated software, making it easier and faster for your employees to access the tool they need.
A developer Alexandre Robin created a multi-functional HR bot using Slack API. This bot can onboard newcomers, put them in touch with the necessary people depending on their questions, manage reminders, make announcements and track birthdays and anniversaries. The bot reacts both to the server events and to the events that happen in designated Slack channels.
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Hangouts Chat API is quite easy to navigate, especially with the video instructions provided. With this integration, you can create various bots, automate workflows and notifications, access your G Suite services without additional authentication and help your employees work more efficiently on the tasks at hand wherever they are.
Despite the fact that many applications now offer quite well-documented APIs for easy integration, there might be reasons why you just cannot use their services.
Some companies prohibit the use of third-party software because of security concerns, and rightfully so. When Zoom experienced a surge of users caused by companies switching to remote mode, it turned out the security practices of this software might not be up to par with the requirements the current situation demands. People have experienced disruptions during their conference calls and random attendees broadcasting undesirable content in their conference rooms without any given permission to join.
Microsoft Teams, also widely used for communication, has fallen prey to hackers that exploited one of its vulnerabilities and managed to come up with a reliable way to steal user data by sending them a GIF. These incidents sparkled heated debates where many companies operating sensitive data in their daily work routine had to refrain from using such services to avoid possible security breach.
If you have a multi-unit system that was developed for your company and you had no need to integrate third-party services before, it might become a bottleneck in your business processes. Here is where the need to develop your own application arises: all existing solutions on the market are bound to have excessive features or drawbacks you don’t really need to drag into your everyday business routine.
Here is a simple bullet list of things to consider when designing your own custom platform for online work-related communication:
Data security always comes first: protect any sensitive data you operate and audio and video recordings of your conference calls.
Try to seamlessly weave in your new application into the system your employees are using already. Make it an add-on to the roster of your business software, not a standalone application.
Some of your employees might not have the desire or the ability to download the app on their personal smartphone so take care of the web version that they can access at any time from anywhere.
Make sure that the interface of your new app is developed using the same key features that your employees are used to. If you know there are some features that people praise in other apps from your system, look into translating them into the new app without making it superfluous. Use corporate design code – it is important to your employees who have never worked remotely to feel integral to the business in every step of the way and it also helps them find stable ground while working from home.
There are multiple ways to make working from home office closer to your usual, pandemic-less routine. You don’t have to sacrifice your productivity or time when switching to working remotely: there is plenty of software out there that you can smoothly integrate into your workflow and continue working as usual.
We at Businessware Technologies have developed various remote communication applications and know how a well-made and thoughtfully integrated text or video chat can improve the quality of remote work. With careful analysis of your working process we can choose an appropriate solution for you, be it an API based or a fully custom one, and integrate it seamlessly.