Around the beginning of March 2020, the world seems to have come to a standstill. It’s not just China, Italy, and Spain that are in lockdown due to the rising death tolls. Canada, France, New Zealand, and Denmark are on the list too (Business Insider 2020). The reason behind this? The novel coronavirus that has been spreading exponentially over the world.
On 11th March 2020, WHO declared the virus, labeled COVID-19, a pandemic (World Health Organization 2020). People are asked to shelter in place (CNN Health 2020) and adapt to social distancing, and even classes have been moved online. This is crucial during this time of crisis in order to contain the disease as much as possible.
In light of these events, it’s unlikely that your business hasn’t been affected. The situation is being handled as delicately as possible; a lot of companies have asked their employees to start working remotely.
Working from home is not as easy as it comes, though, especially for larger companies. However, we’ve researched and collected information on some tools that may help you with your jobs. These apps and software will help you assign tasks and communicate at ease from home while keeping your personal affairs separate.
So, let’s not have you wait any longer and get right to it!
At this time and age, communicating online is really not a big deal. You’ve got social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to communicate with large groups of people at the same time. Similarly, Messenger and Whatsapp can be used for direct messages to smaller groups or individuals.
It’s important to keep your work separate from your personal life, though. The aforementioned websites and apps are not designed to be used for business purposes.
Workplace is designed almost identically to Facebook. Except, you’ve only got the employees of your company on board. Here, you are able to communicate with your colleagues without having to add them to your social media.
There is a home page for general announcements, chat rooms for direct messages, and groups for teams to communicate within themselves. You can even make regular and video calls through it! Its design allows you to get used to it quickly too, therefore use the platform more efficiently. It’s available as an app for your phone as well, so that you can update your work on the go.
Slack is much simpler. It’s designed like a chat room that is divided into sections. You can have different groups according to your teams, projects, and for general announcements as well. It allows you to share all kinds of information through any form of media. You’re even able to make calls through Slack! You can download the software for your computer and the app on your phone, or you can simply use it through your internet browser, no installations required.
Meetings and Conferences
Meetings and conferences can be a hassle online, but it’s still not too much of a big deal nowadays. Video conferencing is available almost anywhere now, but once again, it’s important to keep your work apart from everything else. So we’ve got a few tools for you to try out!
Google Hangouts Meet
Google Meet is one of the most widely used video conferencing tools at the moment. Like most conferencing tools nowadays, you are not required to add anyone to your own account. You can simply share a link for that conference through which anyone can join.
Hangout Meet is particularly useful at this moment because Google has made the Hangout Premium available to all until July 1st (Google Cloud 2020), in the face of the current pandemic. This allows you to make calls with up to 250 participants at a time, record meetings, and host live streams for up to 100,000 viewers.
Skype has been around for as long as we can remember. It’s still a great software/app/website for video conferencing and even lets you share screens now. Simply open an account, add your colleagues, and start a conference call. Easy as pie!
Cisco Jabber operates almost exactly like Skype but is slightly easier to navigate through. You don’t really need to add anyone, but simply share the unique conference ID. Anyone with this ID will be able to join the call.
In addition to making calls through the internet, Cisco Jabber also lets you make calls directly to someone’s phone through your laptop.
Zoom is another video conferencing website that lets you host meetings with screen sharing. It uses unique conference IDs as well. While Zoom is being used mostly by educational institutions as this time, it functions well for businesses as well.
Managing and assigning work to your employees is probably one of the difficult tasks to do online. Task Management tools help you keep track of everyone’s work, compare progress, and basically give you a bird’s eye view of your projects’ current status.
So, we’ve gathered some of these tools for you to check out and pick from, below.
Trello is a simple tool with a straightforward design. It allows you to create boards and assign tasks to people who you’re collaborating with. These tasks can incorporate descriptions, subtasks, checklists, and deadlines. It’s super easy to navigate through Trello and barely requires a tutorial.
Meistertask is very similar to Trello but is essentially a project management tool. Like Trello, you’ll be able to assign tasks to people but also track their progress. Meistertask can be integrated with Slack.
Airtable allows you to store your information in a spreadsheet while keeping the design as simple and visually appealing as possible. While it’s more complicated to get used to than Trello and Meistertask, it’s extremely useful for bigger projects with more team members collaborating.
Asana essentially provides the same core benefits as Meistertask. It allows you to assign tasks, manage projects, collaborate with team members, check progress, and set deadlines. You can even communicate directly on the platform if needed. With more subsections incorporated, you can work on bigger projects and store more information here.
Now, time trackers are necessary for only certain tasks. More often than not it’s to simply check if employees are putting in the minimum required time in their work from home, or even to keep track of your own designated time.
Hubstaff and Top Tracker are two of the time trackers that you can check out. Simply assign tasks and start your timer. These software will take random screenshots at different intervals and save them.
The cool thing is, you can integrate your Trello boards and Asana to Hubtaff which aligns your work and keeps them in sync. TopTracker, on the other hand, is absolutely free.
Now that you have become familiar with the tools available for you, you can go ahead and start using them to make working remotely much easier not just for you but for your company as a whole.
Business Insider 2020, A running list of countries that are on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, viewed 22 March 2020, <https://www.businessinsider.com/countries-on-lockdown-coronavirus-italy-2020-3>.
World Health Organization 2020, Rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19), viewed 22 March 2020, <https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen>.
CNN Health 2020, Self-isolation, quarantine and California’s stay-at-home order: What the terms mean and how they differ, viewed 22 March 2020, <https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/19/health/shelter-in-place-isolation-quarantine-definition/index.html>.
Google Cloud 2020, Helping businesses and schools stay connected in response to Coronavirus, viewed 22 March 2020, <https://cloud.google.com/blog/products/g-suite/helping-businesses-and-schools-stay-connected-in-response-to-coronavirus>