Due to the current epidemic, many are working from home - often for the first time. For those that aren’t veterans of the home office, it can take some getting used to.
If that’s you, here’s an overview of the highs and lows of remote offices, as well as some useful work from home apps to remove the latter problems!
The Benefits Of Working Remotely
Stay Safe. In times of crisis, like the current epidemic, staying at home is safer. If you don’t need to be in office (and you really don’t), remote work removes an unnecessary risk.
Peace and Quiet. When you’re in the office, everyone wants something. Working from home lets you coordinate much more peacefully.
Save Time. When you work from home, you don’t need to waste time commuting. Turn a space at home into a micro-office and start work exactly as needed.
Work-Life Balance. In addition to the benefits above, working from home eases the work-life balance in the latter’s favor. It’s also ideal for parents, especially when schools are closed, for example.
Productivity. Many people (although personal motivation is a critical factor here) feel happier and more engaged at home. They feel trusted and respected. What’s more, they don’t feel like people are breathing down their necks as they work. The relaxed environment often comes back in the form of more productive attitudes.
...And The Struggles
Running Late? No Excuses. Traffic isn’t a problem when working from home. While you have more freedom, it’s entirely up to you to start on time.
Motivation. Time management can be more difficult when you’re working on your own, without your team in front of you. While more productivity is a known benefit, it does require some input from yourself.
Communication. Need to talk to another team member? When you’re by each other's desk, it’s easy. When you’re at home, you need to make a little more effort. This is the biggest change most people face when working remotely (especially if you’re used to talking regularly).
Fortunately, it’s these struggles that we’re going to address here. There is numerous work from home apps designed to tackle various challenges, from timekeeping to project management.
We could give you a long list of options, but we only want the best of the best, right? These are our top recommendations.
Work From Home Apps For Collaboration & Communication
Working with others is one of the biggest challenges when working from home. These three apps, however, should remove most communication issues.
Pricing: Free option available, with standard plans starting from $6.67 a month
Collaboration requires communication. If you’re looking for an app to manage this while working from home, look no further than Slack. This app has only been growing in fame and more and more people leave behind old fashioned solutions (so long, Skype!). Here’s why:
Works on pretty much everything. Slack can run in-browser, but it’s also available as a downloadable app on both Mac, PC, Linux, and mobile. In other words, everyone can use Slack!
File Sharing. Hate talking to someone on one app, only to have to share files elsewhere? Drag and drop straight into Slack - it supports all common file types, from video and PDFs to text files and images.
Instant Messaging & Threading. Yes, Slack supports instant messaging but that’s hardly a surprise. What’s useful, however, is the way it integrates separate threads, for dedicated workgroups, and sub-threads in chats themselves. You’ll never lose track of a conversation (or get stuck in one you don’t need to be involved in).
Voice & Video Calls. Slack also enables you to call by both audio and video, in case text isn’t enough. It’s not perfect, but it works pretty well!
All of this is supported by a clear, user-centered design - the UI is very easy to get familiar with. There’s no harm in trying the free plan out!
Pricing: Free option available, with standard plans starting from $6.67 a month
Similar to Slack, Zoom offers instant communication. While text support is present, many use Zoom because they favor video calls, webinars, and teleconferences - Zoom’s specialty. Of course, it still offers a fully rounded solution in its own right:
Voice & Video Calls. One look at Zoom’s UI and you’ll see these talks are front and center - clear, large screens and visuals make it easy to connect with others.
Video Meetings. Zoom can also support quite a large team calls easily, which makes it great for larger teams or departments.
Webinars. Want to host a webinar or presentation for those outside the company? Zoom also supports this option.
Instant Messaging. This one goes without saying - yes, you can message other team members directly in-app.
File-Sharing: Zoom lets you share files with other uses, as well as during voice or video chats - whenever you need to, basically.
So, do you need Zoom if you work with Slack? Yes and no. Slack is great for larger teams and long, constant projects. If you want something better at quick calls and catch-ups, Zoom’s focus on video and voice calling makes it a must.
It’s incredibly easy to send invites and connect with people both in and out of the company - a great work from the home app if you deal with clients, for example!
Pricing: Free option available, with standard plans starting from $9.99 a month
Atlassian specializes in making (or in this case, acquiring) apps to help teams work together, so it’s no surprise to find one of their products on this list. While Jira and Confluence are designed for specific industries, it’s Trello’s openness that makes it one of the best work from home apps for anybody.
Trello boards are simple to use - just drag and drop cards and assign people as needed. Create categories as you see fit (we recommend something simple: To-do, In Progress, Finished, etc) and move task cards as they get updated. Each card has its comments and files, so you always know where to find the latest info for your specific projects.
Multiple Boards & Cards. Create as many boards and cards as you need to. This way, different departments can keep their tasks/cards separate, while special boards can be created for those unique collaborations - whatever you need.
Multi-Platform Support. Due to its ‘go-wide’ nature, Trello works best on desktops. That said, mobile apps are available so, if you’re on the go and need to jump into a card, you can.
In-Card Comments. As we just mentioned, the ability to comment on specific cards means it’s easy to for everyone to keep a centralized log of every update.
File Sharing. This is limited in the free version, but you can add files to any card. Between this and sharing links, you can keep every file or resource exactly where it needs to be.
Trello is another great example of user-centric design. The UX is built around drag-and-drop, while the overall design is similar to a post-it board. In other words, you’ll find Trello very intuitive to use.
Time Tracking & Management Apps To Work From Home With
Pricing: Free trial, standard plans starting from $9.00 a month
While Trello is great for managing tasks in terms of status, assignment, etc, Toggl is ideal for managing your own time and ensuring you’re spending your working hours effectively.
Toggl was built from the ground up for remote workers, so its one of the best apps to work from home with. Here’s why it’s worth considering:
Time Tracking: Want (or need) to know how long each task takes? Toggl’s lets you track your time effortlessly.
Reports. Using the above, you can also produce reports on how time is spent. Toggl will show you if something is taking you too long, or if you’re being super speedy in some areas. How much you share with your team, of course, is up to you. We won’t tell anyone!
Cross-platform Perfection. Between in-browser support for Chrome and Firefox, as well as a desktop and mobile versions, Toggl can be installed virtually anywhere. What’s more, the experience is seamless. Start the timer on your laptop and end it on your mobile.
While anyone can benefit from Toggl, it’s ideal for freelancers or people working on different projects. Being able to calculate how much time (and money, if you have a cost per hour to consider) every task or project takes helps you to work with clients or other departments. That’s also why we recommend it for anyone who just wants to keep on top of things.
Pricing: Standard plans starting from $39.00 a month, but a free trial is available.
You might have seen their ads online a lot but Monday.com does a great job at managing numerous people in a project. However, it’s worth noting that this app is geared towards businesses and teams - it’s plans are based around the number of users, as well as features.
Gantt Charts. Who doesn’t love a Gantt Chart? Monday.com makes it easy to see what you (and others) are currently working on, what needs to be started soon and what should be finished. It’s ideal for seeing your own work’s place in the wider project.
Desktop & Mobile. Monday.com works on both desktop and mobile devices, so you can always keep track of any new comments or changes, even when on the go.
File Storage & Sharing. Share relevant files directly in-app, so everyone has the most up to date copies.
Monday.com isn’t for everyone - it’s very much the outlier on this list. However, if your entire team has gone remote, this is a great option for keeping everyone connected!
We already mentioned Trello before, but it’s great for managing tasks with others as well!
Other Work From Home Apps
While the above are our key recommendations, there are a few more options for those who want a little more support, or just want to experiment with cool new apps or services!
Pricing: Free (currently in beta)
If you don’t have enough self-control, or just want to remove distractions, Serene is a great app for that. This solution blocks distrustful websites (we all know how distracting social media can be…) until certain tasks are complete. In other words, it forces you to complete your tasks and rewards you when you’re on schedule.
However, this app is currently in beta, so there’s no final assurance on quality. It’s also only available on macOS, but a Windows version is in the works. These two reasons are why we didn’t include it in our main recommendations, but we still think it’s worth a look.
Google Drive & Docs
Pricing: Free personal option up to 15GB - it’s enough, trust us!
C’mon, you already know about Google Drive right. If you need some free Cloud storage, it’s is one of the most popular options out there.
Google Drive also gives you access to the Google Suite office programs, such as Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets. Why are these useful? Once on Google Drive, you can collaborate with others on singular documents at the same time. Change work, make suggestions, leave comments - no more sharing files back and forth via email.
Pricing: Free option available, with standard plans starting from $10.00 a month
While there are numerous calendars out there, we’ve often found that most email-based options just don’t have enough features to be truly useful. Yes, that even includes Gmail, sorry!
That’s why we recommend Calendar for people that want a little extra help coordinating meetings and schedules. Alongside importing other calendars (so you never have overlapping conflicts again), it also provides analytics - so you can keep track of your time, schedules and productivity - and transcriptions from meetings automatically.
Stay Remote, Stay Productive
So, there you go - some great work from home apps to help you (and your team) stay productive. Whether you’re looking to keep communication high, or simply chart progress as work goes on, these apps will help you make the most of the remote work situation.