After a year and a half of remote work, it seems that we’ve made some strides past “making do”. No longer are we consistently telling employees they’re on mute, and we’ve found some semblance of bonding over regularly-scheduled team activities. However, it’s not totally smooth sailing: Whether it’s difficulty replicating that in-person collaboration spark online, WiFi issues, or an endless pile of calendar invites, it seems we’re still continually battling “time suck.” The days seem shorter and to-do lists seem longer than ever before. And it’s not just you, either: Gartner® “Watch Out for 3 Challenges Driving Remote Work Fatigue” report, published April 26, 2021, states “To mitigate remote work fatigue, target three key stressors: digital distractions, virtual overload and difficulty disconnecting.”
If anything, this time has been a great realization that working outside an office hasn’t caused these issues — there were cracks in our foundation all along. Thankfully, many companies are committing to not only addressing the immediate pain we’re all feeling in our day-to-day, but also addressing the longstanding issue — we’re not as connected as we thought. Pandemic or not.
We’re happy to relay that Freehand is one of these products aimed at improving the way you work holistically by limiting digital distractions throughout your day-to-day. We’ve released a handful of new features to help you not just get back to normal, but end up better than before. Here, we introduce four new Freehand features that will help you stay better connected with your colleagues and see better workflows as a result. Let’s dive in:
Problem: Context switching
If it seems like you spend most of your day switching from one tab to another—you’re not alone. It’s been said that this attention shifting between tools, tasks, and tabs can lead to a 40% decrease in overall productivity. And with a proliferation of SaaS tools driven by the COVID-19 economy, it’s likely your workflow is becoming more fragmented every day.
The Freehand team noticed this trend, and added some nifty features to help you see everything all in one place and cut down on context switching. Now, you can add live content from your favorite tools to your canvas. Embed your current projects using Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets just by clicking the add-ons button in the expandable sidebar. You can also insert video content from YouTube and Vimeo, as well as share data by adding Mode reports.
- How to embed Google content in Freehand
- How to embed Mode reports in Freehand
- Embedding videos in Freehand
Problem: Spending time updating things in multiple places
Another big pain of being a remote worker? Accepting the fact that you’re dealing with a constant stream of new information. While you may have set up weekly reminders to update your metrics in the team Freehand, it still takes more time than we’d like to admit to transfer information from one tool to another.
Thankfully, not only can you embed your documents, you can even interact within the iFrames via a quick double click in Freehand—and everything updates automatically.
Problem: Meetings running over
It certainly seems easier to lose track of time when there’s not another group lurking outside the conference room. And an additional one or two minutes of chit chat at the start of a meeting as you wait for a quorum means your agenda is pushed back, setting off a domino effect for the rest of the day.
Freehand’s new timer tool allows you to stay on track without turning you into a clockwatcher. It’s visible to everyone, meaning all meeting participants stay engaged and accountable.
Problem: Staying informed
Let’s face it: it feels harder than ever to follow conversations — especially if your colleagues are spread across multiple locations and time zones. A 24/7 stream of new info makes it harder to know where to start if you’re working asynchronously.
Knowing this, Freehand now gives you a birds-eye view of all the threads on your canvas with the comment sidebar. From this view, you can quickly reply, resolve, delete, or jump to relevant comments on your canvas — not only helping you stay on track, but respond in a timely manner.
The big picture change
Technology should improve our lives, not make it more complicated. You need a productivity tool that meets you where you are and nurtures collaboration rather than hinders it. Together, these Freehand updates help get you closer to that single source of truth — one meeting spot that will scale with you. Optimizing real-time work means more time and focus for asynchronous collaboration, too. Don’t be surprised when things start moving at a quicker pace. Just imagine: What does a 40% more productive you look like? We’re excited to see.