With most countries enforcing lockdowns and social distancing rules to prevent COVID-19 from spreading so fast, working from home has become a usual practice for millions of people. For some jobs, the transition may be quick and easy, while others require some effort and even creativity to be successfully adapted to the home office paradigm.
Fortunately, there are dozens of apps and services that can help you work from home and even make you more productive. We have rounded some of the best products in different categories to accommodate any digital workflow needs you might have, so let’s take a closer look.
Communicating Simply and Effectively: Skype
With so many messengers and online communication platforms around, Skype may no longer be the first thing that comes to mind when you need to make a video call. However, Skype has the advantage of having been around longer than most competitors, so its developers have had the most time to add some refined features and make sure the servers are stable and reliable.
Given that Skype stopped being the go-to solution for video conferences at least a couple of years ago, it is now less “crowded” than many alternatives, which gives you a more stable and secure environment for online communication. In addition, Skype is available on virtually any device imaginable and runs quite well on most of them, regardless of OS, screen size, or technical specs. It may not be the best remote work app, but it will certainly come in very handy in a number of scenarios.
Sharing Files and Documents: Google Drive
Regardless of what you do, you’re surely going to need a reliable platform to exchange documents and possibly other files with your colleagues. Granted there are many solutions available, but using Google Drive gives you a number of advantages. One of the main benefits Google Drive offers users is the seamless integration with multiple other Google services, most notably Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. All these products are free, so you can get yourself a free and quite powerful online workstation in a matter of minutes. All you need is a computer or tablet (they don’t even have to be very powerful), and a free Google account.
Since all Google accounts come with 15GB of free storage, you can use Google Drive to collaborate with your colleagues on different projects in real-time editors without having to worry about running out of storage space for your files. This makes Google Drive a must-have tool for just about any team working on a dynamic project that requires efficient real-time collaboration. Google Drive is also one of the best work from home apps for Android, so be sure to install it on your mobile device for maximum convenience and productivity.
Organizing Video Conferences: Zoom
Thanks to the growing number of people working from home, Zoom is quickly becoming something of a household name. This does have a number of advantages for the average user, but it also means that Zoom servers are pretty overloaded most of the time.
Despite that, Zoom does offer great functionality for conducting online team meetings, so you’ll likely find the occasional lags and interrupted connections tolerable. One of the most useful (and also kind of fun) features is the ability to change the background in your video, so it doesn’t matter if your home doesn’t have a “neutral” area to act as a background or you simply don’t want to disclose the details of your personal life.
Advanced Chatting and Workflow Organization: Slack
Already a must-have tool in the IT world, Slack is now also widely used by people working in other branches. Built and backed by Microsoft, Slack is a reliable online platform that offers a great degree of flexibility and convenience when it comes to organizing multiple group chats. Similarly to Skype, Slack is also available on just about any device you could work on, and it’s not very resource-hungry, which guarantees good performance even on older devices.
Similar to most other working from home apps, Slack offers free and premium versions which differ in features. The free version of Slack only allows you to send and archive a relatively small number of messages, so you may feel the pressure to upgrade sooner as compared to similar products. However, Slack does make remote communication a lot easier for everyone involved, so the premium plan may be a good investment that will help your team achieve higher productivity even after the lockdown is over.
Remote Presentations and Troubleshooting: TeamViewer
TeamViewer can be used in a variety of workplace situations, ranging from a quick presentation to an extensive brainstorming session with dozens of participants. It can also be used for file sharing, although you may find that dedicated apps and services work better for these purposes.
In many ways, the functionality of TeamViewer mirrors that of Zoom, so it’s always a good idea to have both apps installed and configured for interchangeable use in case the servers are down and you need to conduct an urgent meeting. TeamViewer works great for screencasting and remote troubleshooting on other users’ machines, so you’ll probably want to make it the tool of choice for these tasks. Zoom, on the other hand, is better geared towards video conferences with dozens and even hundreds of people. Should Zoom be unavailable, TeamViewer still provides a more than a decent alternative, though.
Effective Teamwork Despite Social Distancing
Have you been able to organize your digital workflow with the apps we recommend? Do you have helpful suggestions or tips? Do you still have colleagues wondering what does working remotely mean and what tools could they possibly use? If so, feel free to share this article with them and express your thoughts on the best remote work apps in the comment section below.