We decided to switch to Google Apps, since they offer free accounts to nonprofits. We moved our operations and production activities to Google Drive/Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Gmail.
It's been quite a culture shift, and we're sometimes still adjusting to this new paradigm. Our work can now take place anywhere we have internet access. Staff members can borrow a laptop and retreat to a local coffee shop for an opportunity to focus on a special project. Paralyzing winter storms aren't quite as scary, since we can do fully functional work from home or a local library branch. And our system allows us multiple avenues of communication to keep us in touch no matter where we're working.
This culture shift has brought a need for new tools that fit in with our new office set up. I presented some cloud-based tools during a recent leadership team meeting... Here's a sample:
- Sunrise (http://www.sunrise.im/) - this tool combines activities from Google Calendar, Facebook (including birthdays!) etc., and sends you a daily summary.
- Aviary - this is a browser extension (for Chrome) which allows you to easily edit images within your browser. No "legacy" software (download and install) needed.
- Wordle (http://www.wordle.net/) - These are used to give a group of words a visual splash. Enter your own body of text and Wordle will create a "word cloud" that emphasizes repeated words more heavily, etc.
- Prezi (http://prezi.com/) - I presented these tools in a Prezi at our meeting; Prezi is a different (and often more dynamic) way of presenting information that would usually be communicated in a PowerPoint.
- CopyPasteCharacter (http://copypastecharacter.com/) - This is a website that makes it easy to copy characters easily, so you can paste them into emails, documents, etc. Lots of options, like: ñ, ☯, ß, ¶, ©, æ, £, ♫, ✄, ✉, ✔, etc...
These tools are fun, and allow us to free ourselves from old ways of accessing information in geographic- or workstation-specific ways. Thanks to the operational changes we have made this year, we will start 2013 with more flexibility, lower costs, and higher staff satisfaction. It's a win, win, win!!