As Coronavirus forces millions of people to work from home, employers and employees alike are looking for ways to stay connected and stay productive while the upheaval lasts. For most, the answer lies in technology and particularly the use of cloud-based tools and apps that can be accessed over the internet. To help, here are some of the best work from home tools and apps we’ve found.
Employee motivation and wellbeing tools
Social distancing adds a whole new dimension to working from home. People who normally work in the office will have to adjust to a working environment where they usually spend their free time – and this can make it difficult to get motivated. They also need to deal with the demands of looking after their children while at work and cope with all the wellbeing issues that long periods of confinement and lack of social contact can lead to.
Luckily, there are several tools to help improve motivation, wellbeing and positivity. The first of these is Chimp or Champ, an online portal where team members can give anonymous feedback, expressing how they have felt during the previous week and giving the reasons why. This feedback is then collated for managers in a weekly report that includes the team’s anonymous actionable feedback and an analysis of the team’s overall happiness score. This allows managers to make changes that will help your employees adapt to working from home in a way that makes them happier.
Another crucial motivational tool is to reward your employees. This is especially important when they are working in unusual circumstances. The online and app platform, Wooboard, is ideal for this as it provides a fun way not just for the manager to reward good work but for employees to recognise and praise each other. What’s also great about this tool during social distancing is that its social and gamification features help maintain the important daily interactions that can be easily lost when the team is socially isolated.
Project management and collaboration tools
Keeping projects on schedule during the Coronavirus pandemic is going to be a challenge for all businesses, especially when teams that normally work together are isolated from each other. However, remote working is nothing new in the digital age and over recent years a growing number of high-quality project management and collaboration tools have been developed.
For teams that use Microsoft Office applications to create documents and send emails, especially users of Office 365, then the most useful tool may be Microsoft Teams, a teamwork hub built into Office 365. Accessible over the internet on any device, the tool has a long list of features and enables you to keep all your team’s documents, meetings, chats, files and apps together in one place – enabling you to communicate, collaborate and work simultaneously on instantly synced documents. Watch the video below to find out more.
MS Teams EMBED CODE
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An alternative to Microsoft Teams is ProofHub, another high-quality collaboration tool that provides seamless interaction between team members and comes with a wealth of remote project management features, as well as online proofing, discussions and feedback-sharing chat. And then, of course, there’s the well-known and very popular Slack, a messaging app and collaboration tool combo that easily integrates with all the tools your team uses and has a string of highly useful features.
Remote productivity tools
Maintaining productivity isn’t going to be easy when employees in social distancing families need to look after their children. There will be distractions that you cannot ask them to ignore and they will have less time to work. What you can do, is provide the tools to help them be as productive as they can during these difficult times.
One useful tool is the ‘To Do’ app. There are many of these available, some just offering the creation of basic to-do lists. However, there are more sophisticated versions with far more useful features. For those working in Microsoft software environments, Microsoft To Do is a free app that is the ideal complement to your other software, like Office 365. There’s also Todoist, a paid-for app with lots of useful features to help employees organise their workloads and personal time. These include tasks and subtasks, project creation, notes, file uploads, reminders, priority flags and even a productivity chart.
From a management point of view, it might also be a good idea to keep track of the work your employees are doing remotely. Again, there are many tools you can use for this. Two of the better ones are Teamwork, a project management tool that lets you track the time employees spend on projects and which creates custom time reports; and Hub Staff, a remote employee tracking tool that not only monitors what tasks your employees are doing but where they are working.
Face to face tools
It’s not necessary to go into detail about the different face to face tools available because there are so many of them – Skype, Hangouts, Facetime, etc. What is important to recognise is that social distancing can be difficult for people in terms of loneliness. Rather than do all your remote communication via text apps and email, a little bit of daily face to face interaction can help everyone’s wellbeing.
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