Amid Covid-19 pandemic, when the world was locked down, businesses left with no other option but to adopt the remote working culture. The shift towards most of the workforce working from home comes with a new set of challenges and advantages. For businesses, managing remote teams is challenging and requires help from technology to get over the work from home challenges and boost productivity.

Advantages of Remote Working Culture

The remote working culture is opening up new opportunities for businesses to work and structure their workflow. Also, there are some considerable benefits of remote working culture.

  • Improves employee retention
  • Possible productivity gains
  • Provide access to a wider range of employees
  • Reduces expenses on office space operations
  • Motivate employees
  • Convenience of locating sales staff near your prospects
  • Provide a better work-life balance for employees

Challenges with Work from Home Culture

There are some flaws with the work from home culture, and most of these are caused by a lack of adequate infrastructure:

  • Information security risk
  • Increase in telecommunication cost incurred by providing employees with mobile phones and internet connections
  • Challenge to work on staff development
  • Hard to monitor employee performance
  • Communication gaps due to lack of constant connectivity among employees
  • WFH (Work From Home) isn’t suitable for all types of jobs

TIP: The shift towards WFH does not necessarily mean that the employees will have to work only at home. Businesses are splitting time between the workplace and home to find the most productive solution. For example, your employees can come to the office to attend meetings and training sessions.

50+ Apps that can help you overcome the challenges and streamline the WFH Jobs

Working from home isn’t as easy as it seems. Some struggle to remain productive in their home while others face challenges such as lack of ease of communication among team members.

It is no surprise that there are many software applications available in the market that bridges the gap among team members and can make it easier for the employers in managing remote teams. These apps help employees keep track of their tasks and provide various methods of communication. Check out the following tools that are sufficient for boosting the WFH productivity.

Tools to Ease out Communication

Constant and easy communication is one of the most challenging parts of remote working culture. Not being in the same premise as the peers can be a major issue for many employees. Following are some tools to ease out the communication among the workforce:

1. Zoom

During the lockdown, Zoom has seen an unprecedented growth in their users with almost 2000% rise from Jan to April 2020. In January it had 659,000 users which rose to 13 million users in April.

Zoom is primarily used by businesses to conduct and host meetings with international clients and colleagues. The reason why zoom video conferencing feature is being appreciated throughout the world is because of its high-quality HD video conferencing, support for more than 1,000 participants, ease of use, and collaboration features such as Screen sharing and text chat. 

2. Slack

It is one of the most popular apps that supports remote working culture. Slack launched 2013, and since then it has been an undeniable leader in the team collaboration software segment. To keep it tangible, here are the benefits the free version offers:

  • Store up to 10,000 messages
  • Can be integrated with 10 apps
  • Provide up to 5 GB of cloud storage

3. Microsoft Teams

Though Microsoft has been late in entering the team collaboration software segment, it is catching up fast. The advantage Microsoft has is that they have a pool of popular business applications with which whom Microsoft Teams can be seamlessly integrated.

To support organizations during this pandemic, Microsoft has launched a free version of Teams that has surprised many of its competitors. It offers:

  • Storing unlimited messages
  • 10 GB of shared + 2 GB of personal cloud storage
  • Integration with more than 250 business applications
  • Ability to facilitate safe communication with people from other organizations

4. Join.me

In addition to facilitating audio and video calls for team or client purposes, Join.me also lets you share your screen with others. It doesn’t seem like the best software to go for team collaboration, it is a feasible option for many businesses who are looking for a low-cost method.

5. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a considerable option for those who are looking for a skype alternative. Subscription for this tool can be bought along with the G-Suite which costs around $2 per user per month. Since the recent updates, Google Hangouts have started performing well in audio and video meetings. Moreover, it can be integrated with Slack, simplifying your day-to-day activities. 

Feedback and Culture Management Apps

Having a great communication tool isn’t just enough to eliminate all the communication barriers, you might also need some tools to quickly feedback the work or some opinions. Check out these:

1. Doodle

This software can potentially boost your brain output by simplifying your decisions in perfect time for your next team meeting. Doodle lets you send short polls to your team for any meeting or can be used to make a cumulative decision to get a quick response.

2. Office Vibe

With WFH, sometimes it gets hectic for the employees to work along with the team. Sometimes due to lack of person-to-person interaction, getting their feedback on their issues and the work culture becomes a difficult task. OfficeVibe facilitates an easy way for the management to monitor the team’s happiness and satisfaction. The team members directly get regular questions and messages that they can answer anonymously. This lets them frankly communicate about their point of views related to team culture or individual behaviours. 

File Management Apps to Enhance Productivity

Working together means being always on track with what your peers are doing. But, when the team is working from home, it is next to impossible to stay tuned with all the activities without using appropriate file management tools. Managing work and files on cloud can be the way to store your data where others can see or edit (with permission).

1. Google Drive

This is the one our Nimble AppGenie team has been personally using for a long time. Google Drive has been helpful for us in building a transparent workflow. Google drive is the “classic” standard for a cloud-based software tool that lets people work on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. It’s file explorer user interface is very neatly designed, which makes it even easier to manage files. 

Google Drive allows many users to work on a single file (document, spreadsheet, presentation) simultaneously.

2. Box

Box is another useful file management tool that allows users to save and share documents and files securely. This tool can be considered as an alternative to Google Drive as it can be integrated with Google Apps, Office 365, or Slack.

3. Dropbox

Dropbox is a free to use cloud storage with limited capacity. Users can save their files and also can share them with their peers or someone else. The tool allows users to access and edit files as per the access granted by the owner.

4. Quip

Quip is the close competitor to Google Drive. It actually addresses the weaknesses of Google Docs. It facilitates the functionality for the team members to discuss, leave comments and create file versions which become necessary tools for collaborative work.

Time Tracking Apps

Working from home is somewhat similar to working as a freelancer, one needs to track the working hours so that the work-life-balance is managed and the required working hours are completed. Some organizations are task-centric where an employee is supposed to complete pre-defined tasks before the due date, while others are somewhere near to micro-management. Well, it’s not our job to decide your management style as both the styles have their own pros and cons. Keeping track of working time works in some organizations.

Whether the employer asks for it or not, it’s always good to have a time tracker for your own productivity gains. Here is the list of best time trackers for working people:

1. Hours

From individual time tracking to a service that the entire team can use to track and analyse the duration worked on different types of projects, Hours can help . Hours provides data visualization for the hours one has put into specific tasks or projects. It allows users to switch between tasks with just a tap.

2. Time Doctor

Time Doctor is a feature-rich time tracking app which can be integrated with team and project management software such as Jira, GitHub, asana, salesforce, teamwork and many more. Time Doctor is a SaaS-based application which can be configured as per the organization needs. The application comes with many useful features such as automatic screenshots to track activity, time-tracking on the basis of projects and clients, detailed reports, both web and app availability, time usage alerts, and tracking the breaks.

3. Hubstaf

From tracking the WFH team to the sales teams on the ground, Hubstaff is a single solution for all your tracking needs. Hubstaff offers optimized user interfaces that make it easy for users to access all the variety of features the app incorporates. Some of the features that make Hubstaff a perfect pick for bigger and more diverse team structures are online timesheets, GPS tracking, reporting and analysis, productivity monitoring, team scheduling, geofencing, payroll simplification, auto-generate invoices.

Apps to ease out Task and Project Management

Project management apps are essential for distributed teams, freelancers, and entrepreneurs, who want to establish transparency with their clients or business partners. Among hundreds of project management apps out there, here are the top picks:

1. Asana

Asana is popular among mid-large scale businesses. It is a powerful project management tool that offers impressive layouts to organize tasks between a huge number of employees. 

2. Basecamp

This app is very popular among freelancers that are looking for a tool to manage the pool of tasks and projects they have. Basecamp is super easy and allows the users to share project details with guests or clients with just a couple of clicks.

3. JIRA

JIRA is an issue and project management tool that is popular among software developers worldwide. JIRA is among those important tools companies use to plan project roadmaps and track it afterwards. 

Other Productivity Apps

1. Tomato-Timer

You might have already heard of Pomodoro Technique in which you divide your work into 25-minute sprints and take 3-4 minutes of breaks in between every working period. This scientific method relaxes your brain and gives the required boost for the next sprint. TomatoTimer does exactly the same, it reminds you of the necessary brakes.

2. Todoist

Todoist is an app to support remote working culture by allowing users to keep track of their to-do list and tasks. This app is not only smart, but also works offline. Some of their features make it a good pick for small team collaboration. 

What are the Jobs that suit the Remote Working Culture?

While deciding whether to permit an employee to work remotely, you should consider the nature of the job and the employee job roles.

Jobs that Suits Remote Working

  • Customer service
  • Telesales and marketing
  • Writing, translation, editing, and research
  • Consultancy work and professional services including HR administration and accountancy

Skills that are required from an Employee to WFH

  • Self-motivated
  • Sound knowledge of technology
  • Self-disciplined and punctual
  • Can keep constant communication
  • Able to elaborate issues and can help fix them remotely
  • Self-motivated

Wrapping up

We’ve tried our best to shorten the list of useful apps for the work-from-home culture, so that you don’t waste your time using apps that aren’t productive enough. We, at Nimble AppGenie, use many of these applications in our day to day activities. Still, we recommend to you that before adopting an app for the entire organization or a big team, you should personally use the app for a week or so to make sure that it is the right fit for your use case.

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