The outbreak of Coronavirus has affected people and businesses across the world. We have quickly progressed from debating the pros and cons of remote work to ‘switch to remote work or go out of business.’ Remote work is no longer debatable, and many businesses have asked their workforce to work from home to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. If your business is considering allowing employees to work from home, you are probably wondering whether you have the tools and systems in place to make it happen. If that is you, these are some tools you can use to stay connected.
BEST TEAM CHAT APPS
Alexander Pope once said, ” To err is human,” this can be simply noted as “to communicate is human.” From the Stone Age, where humans communicated with pictograms into the latest chat apps, humans have always looked for better ways to communicate.
While emails require a letter-length reply and a title, video calls can be challenging to schedule just like a face-to-face meeting, and with some areas having slow internet speed, chat simplifies that away. All you need is to type and send a quick message, get an equally short reply in a short time, and get on with your work.
Today’s best chat apps assist you in organizing your team conversations about multiple topics and between departments and enable you to search through your business archives to find out if your question has already been answered.
Team chat apps can also speed up with bots and integrations that bring apps into your chats. Below are apps that are used widely by organizations around the world and can assist you in Team Chats
1. Microsoft Teams Chat App (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Web)
Microsoft Teams chats app was developed for meetings and managing documents. Teams works well for both random chats and when working together on a project.
The app enables you to organize channels under teams. You can invite everyone who should be a team, and they can automatically join every channel in that team.
Microsoft Teams Features
- Fully integrated with Office 365
- Conversation channels
- Direct access to email, Skype, OneDrive, and SharePoint
- Collaborate live in real-time
- Access Teams across all of your devices
- Integrate third-party applications quickly such as Zendesk
Then, when you are having a meeting, Microsoft Teams creates a new chat room just for that meeting. You can go to a video call, share your screen, and log every discussion in long-form messages. It’s almost email reinvented.
Microsoft has seen a massive boost for Teams since so many people are working from home because of the Coronavirus. Teams now have 44 million daily users, a figure that has grown by 12 million “in just the last seven days,” Microsoft says. This week alone, users have generated over 900 million meetings and calling minutes on Teams.
Microsoft Teams Pricing:
Microsoft Teams have a free plan that offers unlimited chat and search history with an unlimited number of users, 2GB file attachment space, 10 GB file sharing across all teams.
Slack is a team chat app that you have probably heard and tried already. The app is one of the most popular team chat apps today. It has different features that include:
- Organized conversations
- Searchable history
- Connect tools and services
- Collaboration beyond colleagues
- Voice, video calls and screen sharing
- Integrated file sharing
Slack has a free package that offers access to 10,000 of your team’s most recent messages, 1:1 voice and video calls between teammates, and ten integrations with other apps like Google Drive, Office 365 and many more.
Other packages go for $6.67 and $12.50 per month.
Zoho Cliq is different from other team chat apps in its appearance and style. Rather than having one conversation in view at a time, Zoho Cliq lets you open up multiple chats and private messages with each in its column. Rather than flip among your most frequently used conversations, you can keep them all open at once. Another distinguishing feature, called Prime Time, lets you use Cliq as a broadcasting service, streaming video in real-time to anyone on the team who tunes in.
Zoho Cliq Features
- Group collaboration, made simple
- Searchable conversations
- Voice and Video calls
- Day-to-day tasks and calendar schedules
- Centralize your workflows
- Data security
Zoho Cliq Pricing
Zoho Cliq offers a free plan that can be used by unlimited users. It also provides
- Searchable messages: 10k for org
- File storage: 100GB for org
- Max. Participants per channel: 100
- User provisioning and de-provisioning
- Google/Google Apps sign-on,
- SAML based single sign-on (SSO)
- Screen sharing
There is also a premium plan that starts with $3 per user per month.
FREE ONLINE MEETINGS & VIDEO CONFERENCING APPS
Most businesses and organizations are currently working remotely, and there is a great need for team members to interact.
As much as remote work can be of benefit to your business or organization, working remotely can, at time make one feel isolated, thus losing productivity. Video conferencing is one of the most crucial tool for increasing productivity. It makes users feel connected.
There are numerous applications and platforms for video chat and collaboration.
1. Zoom Meetings(web, Android, IOS, Microsoft)
Zoom allows participants to join via the web, dedicated apps, browser extensions, and mobile devices using iPhone and Android apps. Users can call in via phone if they need to. Free users can also record video or audio locally and share screens with other conference participants.
During this COVID-19 pandemic zoom is offering support Effective Remote Working, Educating Over Zoom, Hosting Virtual Events and Telehealth.
The features of Zoom include:
- Video Conferencing Features
- HD video
- HD voice
- Active speaker view
- Full screen and gallery view
- Simultaneous Screen Share
- Join by telephone call-in
- Virtual Background
- Web Conferencing Features
- Desktop and application sharing
- Personal room or meeting ID
- Instant or scheduled meetings
- Chrome & Outlook plug-ins
- Scheduling w/ Chrome Extensions
- MP4 or M4A local recording
- Private and group chat
- Host controls
- Raise hand
- Group Collaboration Features
- Breakout Rooms
- Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android
- Group messaging and presence
- Screen share any iPad/iPhone app
- Co-annotation on shared screen
- Keyboard/mouse control
- White boarding
Zoom has a free plan that hosts up to 100 participants, Unlimited 1 to 1 meeting, 40 mins limit on group meetings, unlimited number of meetings, and online support.
Other plans include pro that goes for $14.99 per month per host, business plan for $19.99 per month per host, and Enterprise plan for $19.99 per month per host.
- Skype(Windows, Mac OS X , Linux, Android and IoS)
Skype is one of the most popular VoIP app. It is suitable for video conferencing for small teams of up to 50 people, and this is free.
Skype has a great feature of cloud-based call recording feature that any team member can prompt. This prompt notifies other participants that the call is being recorded, and allows users to save and share the recording for up to 30 days.
- Audio and HD video calling
- Smart messaging
- Call recording and Live subtitles
- Private conversations
- Call phones
- Screen sharing
It’s free to make Skype to Skype calls but to call a mobile or landline from Skype, you need a little Skype Credit or a subscription.
The price you pay depends on the country you’re calling to, not the country you’re calling from.
Although CISCO is mostly associated with expensive Enterprise products. Webex is the CISCO’s web conferencing solution, and it comes with great free plan for those looking for a barebones video conferencing solution.
- It provides simple, modern video meetings with the most manageable schedule and join experiences on the market.
- Background noise detection, AR capabilities, and video call back features ensure top-quality meeting experiences,
- Application and screen sharing and in-app white boarding help people around the world collaborate as if they’re in the same room.
- Instant Messaging
- File Sharing and Document Collaboration
- A free plan
- A starter plan that goes for $13.50 per host per month,
- A plan that goes for $17.95 per host per month,
- A starter plan that goes for $26.95 per host per month,
- and Enterprise plan for large meetings, events, training & support.
Task management is not just ticking off items on a to-do list. It’s an organized system for identifying, monitoring and managing the work and projects you and your team are working on. Task management involves
- Tracking task progress
- Setting deadlines
- Adjusting work schedules
- Delegating work to team members
- And so much more
Why Do We Require a Task/Project Manager software?
- Project management software provides scalability and flexibility in the creation and customization of your project workflow to meet the business as well as the market requirements.
- It enables to centralize the work activity and thus minimizes the risk of data loss as well as increase the efficiency of work.
- It encourages teamwork and provides uninterrupted communication, thus leads to an increase in overall productivity.
- Tasks and projects can be easily prioritized as per the business requirement, and also reminders are set for the timely execution of tasks.
- Tasks and events are managed daily anywhere and anytime, just the only requirement is an internet connection.
Here are some of the best tools for managing tasks efficiently:
Trello is one of the top project management system, it is known for its simplicity, and it’s very well suited for the projects following agile methodologies.
Trello has boards which have cards, and the cards can contain design updates, tasks, comments, attachments, project overview, messages, etc., and thus acts as the most visual collaboration for any project.
From projects, tasks to family responsibilities, it has everything to stay organized and is available anywhere to be in sync.
Trello offers a free plan that has unlimited Personal Boards, Unlimited Cards, Unlimited Lists, 10MB per File Attachment, and much more. You can sign up here.
There is also a Business Class plan that goes for $9.99 per user per month and Enterprise plan that goes for $20.83 per user per month.
Asana task management is mainly used to create and keep track of the project or tasks within the project.
Asana offers team activities like sharing files, task assignments, project progress tracking, receiving notifications, updates, and comments. Thus it results in seamless communication, ultimately efficient and timely delivery of projects.
Asana offers a free plan for individuals or teams just getting started with project management. You can get started here.
It also has a premium plan that goes for $10.99 per user per month and a business plan for $24.99 per user per plan.
HeySpace is a ground-breaking and intuitive task management tool with chat. It is like a blend of Slack and Trello, but with more advanced features. It assist in managing projects and team workflow, and also improves communication and collaboration in a team as well as with clients.
- It enables you to view three boards in one area, that is spaces, your team and list of task cards.
- You can easily change your conversation into a task
- The board with tasks in a Kanban-styleallows you to see all projects in one place for easy task tracking
- Every task can be adjusted – you can set a due date, assign tasks to particular people, add tags, create a to-do list, description, files, comment on it, make it a recurring task
- The feature of workspaces allows you to create many spaces,
- You can create personal to-do lists with a due date to follow your work every day and make sure every task is done on time
- A simple and user interface.
HeySpace offers you space to organize your tasks and projects. You can use it as an advanced to-do list app or a simple free task software and make sure every due date is effectively approached. You don’t have to switch between apps and tabs. Everything is in one place!
- Free for up to 10 users
- Premium plan that goes for $5 per user in Workspace
- Heyspace offers 50% discount for non-profits and schools
BEST FREE PRODUCTIVITY SOFTWARE WHEN WORKING AT HOME
It’s very easy to get online to look for one particular thing and find yourself still surfing four hours later. This is especially troublesome when you’re working from home. If you find it challenging to be productive when working at home, here are apps that can increase your productivity.
Evernote is an excellent tool for organizing your thoughts and ideas. Since ideas can come at any time, Evernote enables you to record them.
You can note down a list, lengthy essay, photos, screenshots, links, the exciting parts of a web article, etc.
You can also attach a reminder in Evernote. There is also an option for the reminder to be sent as an email.
One thing I like about Evernote is the smart search tool, and it helps you search through everything you’ve noted. Also Notebooks can be synced across all your devices as required, enabling you to view and work on them anywhere.
Evernote has a free plan that can serve you well. Evernote also provides premium plans. The Evernote Business plan offers Spaces, for example, a method to organize your notes into separate collections, each of which can be used by individual teams, while the searchable Space Directory enables tracking what’s happening right across your company. The paid plans goes for $7.99 a month, or $14.99 per user per month.
3. Focus Booster (Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
Focus Booster is a Pomodoro app that’s more focused on freelancers and agency owners since you can choose which client to track time for. All your Pomodoro sessions get automatically logged under a timesheets area, and enables you to create manual entries. The interesting feature? You can export your Pomodoro sessions into a CSV format so it’s much easier to invoice your client at the end of a month or project.
There is an exciting feature that enables you to save incomplete sessions and you can resume later.
· Free, but limited to 20 sessions
· Individual plan ($2.99/month), with 200 sessions and extended settings
· Unlimited plan ($4.99/month), with unlimited sessions and invoicing
4. Focus To-Do: Pomodoro Timer and To Do List (Windows,Mac, iOS, Android)
As the name states, Focus To-Do is a combination of the Pomodoro timer and the to-do list. Quite useful, as you can create projects to categorize better sessions, as well as set task priorities for a clear picture of what to do first.
Apart from that, there is a great feature known as the “Forest”. It gamifies the whole user experience and lets you contribute with your actions to growing a plant. If you don’t complete the daily challenges, you guessed it, the plant dies— a thought-provoking way to build up motivation and adopt the Pomodoro Technique.
This Pomodoro timer also comes with a trend chart of all your accomplished to-dos and statistics over how you’ve spent your time for each project.
- Premium (£2.99/3 months), with unlimited projects, app whitelist, daily/weekly/monthly report, repeating tasks, reminder tasks
There will still be life after Corona Virus pandemic! Businesses and work need to keep progressing even when under the current lockdown. The above list has been carefully created to take care of each kind of need that we are experiencing trying to work from home. Find out what works best for you and share about the rest of the tools with your team and friends. The essence is to remain productive at home.
Apart from the apps, remember totake short breaks and call friends who are also stuck at home. They’re bored and isolated too, and they’d like to hear from you, even briefly. Also, do some physical exercises every day, preferably something that also improves your posture, because you’re likely sitting a heck of a lot more than you were before. In case, I missed a software or an app that can help when working at home, you can let us know in the comment section below. Enjoy the stay at home and remain productive.