As nearly the entire globe heads into varying degrees of lock down in order to curb the spread of Covid-19, companies of all sizes are forced to adopt a new working lifestyle—at least for the time being. If you own a small business or manage a team, you may be scrambling to identify the right tools to transition effectively. Luckily, freelancers who are already accustomed to working remotely have done some of the homework for you. In this article, I'll share 12 tools to work at home more productively.
Calling and Video Conferencing
This powerful, free video conferencing tool has gone absolutely viral. Zoom boasts good call quality, high reliability, and is refreshingly simple to use when compared to other video conferencing tools. Just remember to review screen sharing and privacy options before you start using it.
Though Hangouts is already a known favorite for video calling, they've unlocked some enterprise features for G Suite Basic in order to lessen the impact on teams suddenly finding themselves working from home.
Despite being the first major service for video calling, Skype isn't always the first choice that comes to mind for teams. That being said, Skype does possess certain features that other video calling services do not. Whether those features matter to you will determine whether or not Skype is a fit. Skype for Business, a separate service, is part of Microsoft Teams (see below),
Chat Tools for Business
Slack is definitely the more professional version of WhatsApp chat groups. Set up your organization in Slack, create threads for different topics, and then invite teammates to the relevant threads. You can even make certain threads private or invite-only to keep your teams focused. Slack offers a generously equipped free plan, as well as powerful upgrades.
Workplace is Facebook's answer to Slack. Since nearly everyone has a Facebook account and is familiar with the interface, Workplace capitalizes off that familiarity to keep your team's conversations in a work-appropriate environment. Workplace offers a 30-day free trial.
Teams is Microsoft's answer to tools like Slack and Zoom. the tech giant's productivity suite packs familiar features and is useful enough to provoke Slack into buying a full page 'response' in the New York Times. As you might expect, Microsoft Teams integrates with the rest of Office, allowing you to keep your back office software consolidated.
To-Do Lists and Task Management
Formerly known as Wunderlist, Microsoft To-Do is a simple to use, cleanly made task management tool. Though the original Wunderlist UI was redesigned upon joining the Microsoft family, the original team was retained and continues to work on improving the tool.
Basic to-do checklists are easily managed with Google Tasks, right from your Gmail interface on Desktop. If you need to do anything too complex, you might want to consider a different task management tool.
Time Tracking and Productivity Enhancement
At its core, Toggl is a simple time tracking tool, but with tons of powerful features layered behind a beautifully designed UI. You can use the live timer for your sessions or do manual time entries. Besides being able to add descriptions to your sessions, you can then assign sessions to different projects and clients. Toggl is free, incredibly easy to use, and is an absolute dream come true for freelancers & small teams.
And.CO by Fiverr
Take a deep breath for this next one: And.CO is a time tracker, CRM, invoicing tool, accounting software, task manager, and proposal tool all wrapped into one hot mess of an app. Though And.CO is incredibly feature-rich and sports a clean, minimalist UI, it couldn't be more different than Toggl. That said, it is definitely worthy of a try-you might just be glad you did.
Time Doctor is a thorough time tracker designed for team leaders and managers. Time Doctor must be installed on the PC or Mac of each individual team member and monitors what the user has running in the background while the timer is rolling. Time Doctor is a useful remedy for mitigating time fraud or diagnosing performance issues among teammates. Reports can be useful in sharing corrective feedback to your team so they work at home more effectively. Time Doctor is not a fit for freelancers or self-managing folks.
Forest: Stay Focused
If you aren't tied to your phone 24/7, then I tip my hat to you in respect. For the rest of you, Forest: Stay Focused uses the very temptation of your phone to help you work at home with last distractions from it. Forest is a breathtakingly simple time tracking app that uses gamification to encourage spending less time on your phone. Forest is available on Google Play and the App Store.