The past few months has been greatly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. We are also changing the way we work; with most people working from home and going out lesser. Some of my readers/customers has asked me what are the tools/resources that they can use to make this transition better.
To response to that I have compiled below some of the teleconferencing and collaboration tools that will make this transition as productive as ever.
Zoom (Free and Paid version)
For those who need to make group video calls, audio conferencing or screensharing, Zoom is a good platform to consider. You can use this on your desktop, iPhone or Android phone.
There is also a free tier that you can try this tool out. The only restriction as of this point of article is that the free tier can only be use for no more than 40 minutes each time. I guess that is enough for most cases. Once you like it, you can upgrade to the other tiers with more features.
It supports high-definition video and voice with full screen and gallery view. Participants of a conference call can even share their screens simultaneously as well as schedule meetings directly from Google Calendar.
You can also record video calls in video (MP4), audio (MP3) or text (txt) format to keep as reference.
This is definitely one tool that I have used a lot.
Google’s G Suite (Free and Paid version)
Google’s G Suite, which comprises Gmail, Google Drive, Docs, Hangouts, Calendar and other services, is probably the easiest way to work from home while still staying in contact with your colleagues.
The suite allows you to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations. And your colleagues can hop in anytime to continue working on these documents. You can store the working files online in Google Drive and search for what you need almost instantly.
Calendar allows everyone to see everyone’s schedule without having to call or message one another. And there is Hangouts that allow everyone to stay in contact with each other.
While these services are free to use for consumers, G Suite adds enterprise features such as custom email addresses at a domain (@yourcompany.com), option for unlimited cloud storage (depending on plan and number of members), additional administrative tools and advanced settings, as well as 24/7 phone and email support.
The ones which I use the most in this suite are Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and Sheets. These really allow me to work from anywhere and from any device ensuring that I am always in sync since all the information are stored centrally in the cloud.
Slack (Free and Paid version)
One of best collaboration tools currently, this platform allows you to send direct messages and files to a person or a group.
Your conversations take place in dedicated spaces called channels, which you can assign to projects, thus making it easy to track the projects you are working on. You can also prioritise which channels are the most important, so you can focus on those projects that are top priority.
Even if you leave or archive a channel, the contents are still searchable. Thus, you can always refer to them when you have similar projects in the future.
In addition, Slack supports voice and video calls. So you can set up a video conference meeting remotely to discuss urgent matters.
The best part is that Slack has a free version. But it only supports one-to-one voice and video calls, instead of group calls and you only have access to 10,000 of your team’s most recent messages. Paid plans allow group video conferences and full searchable history.
WhatApps (Free and Paid version)
This has got to be the most frequently used apps today.
WhatsApp Messenger or simply WhatsApp is a freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) service owned by Facebook. You can use it to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media.
Besides running on mobile devices, I use this from my notebook and desktop using their WhatsApp Web client on Chrome web browser. I really love this client as I can do all my work on one device and most of my clients and colleagues are using this as well.
WhatsApp has also released a standalone business app targeted at small business owners, called WhatsApp Business, to allow companies to communicate with customers who use the standard WhatsApp client.
Trello (Free and Paid version)
When it comes to managing a project with a distributed team, Trello is a popular tool that has been used by notable organisations, including Kickstarter and Unicef.
Trello revolves around boards, columns and cards. Each project is represented by a board, which can be filled with columns for upcoming, ongoing and completed tasks. These columns are filled with cards – each representing a task – that can be edited, colour-tagged and moved from one column to another. Team leaders can assign a card to a member with a deadline for completion. In short, Trello is easy to learn.
Its basic features are free to use, though with restrictions such as a 10MB attachment limit.
Toggl (Free and Paid version)
Tracking the hours spent on a project is essential for businesses that bill their clients based on time. It can also improve productivity by highlighting tasks where team members are spending too much time on.
Toggl is a time-tracking tool that supports a wide range of platforms. It syncs across all its platforms so you can start a timer on a smartphone and stop it on a computer. Idle detection ensures accuracy even if a user forgets to stop the timer. Toggl is also integrated with popular collaborative tools such as Asana, Basecamp and Google Calendar, making it easy to assign and track the time for specific projects.
And best of all, most of its key features are available for free. Firms with larger teams, of course, may find it worthwhile to opt for the paid version, which adds more functions such as generating reports and unlimited team members.
Well there you have it. These are the list of online tools which you can use to work more productively anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. Best of all, they also come with a feature-free free version which you can try out and if your business needs grow, you can even upgrade to their paid version.
To Your Success,