This year working from home has become the new normal for many of us in the UK. Whether you’re at the dining table, tucked away under the stairs or in a corner of your bedroom, working from home has not been the commute-free dream that many of us imagined. It’s more likely that you’ve had struggles with patchy wi-fi, video call drop-outs and managing your time. We may be moving into a more understanding, flexible era of remote working, but with no sign of returning to the office, it’s time to level up.
We’ve tried out plenty of apps that aim to make working from home easier over the last few months. What we’ve found is that, while there are lots of programmes geared towards assisting the individual, software designed for business-wide use tends to be complex, inefficient and slow. When we narrow our search down to dedicated apps, however, the development focus is on creating lightweight, effective software that looks good and saves the user time.
Businesses need to be ready to support their teams to work from home for much longer than was previously thought. While some companies are thriving, others have been getting by despite working from home. If your business relies on paper forms, face-to-face conversations or complex timesheet software, switching to remote working suddenly is a challenge. To revisit a prescient advertising slogan, there’s an app for that. Our team have collated this list to show you which apps can help your business succeed in 2020. Now is the time to streamline your virtual office with the help of apps, specially designed to support you and your team.
There are a few things to think about when choosing business solutions. First, consider how long each app will take to set up and get everyone on board. If the setup time outweighs the time saved by using the app, look for something as user-friendly as possible. To help your team get to grips with a new system, online resources such as how-to articles or videos can be easier to coordinate than delivering training via conference call. In a recent survey, 84% of respondents said they would look to use online courses for CPD or training. A premade set of instructions lets your team learn at their own pace. Consider sharing existing resources or making your own to help your team get to grips with the new software.
When working from home, many have concerns about how, without being present in the office, employers and managers will know what work has been done. Some timesheet software is so complex that filling in timesheets becomes another task in itself, wasting company time and money. For full oversight, Crono’s app streamlines task delegation and time tracking into a quick and easy process.
Aiming to help users ‘track time in less time’, Crono uses colourful visuals to help users navigate the system easily. The app is fully optimised for mobile use, so you and your team can access it from wherever you’re working.
Crono’s new offering combines online timesheets with project management. Their basic package is free, so small businesses can start using Crono right away. This package offers room for two managers and two projects, with unlimited tasks.
Two user types are available, so managers and employees have different access privileges. Managers can create projects and assign tasks to employees. Once a project is broken up into tasks, employees simply check them off and submit their timesheets live. No more chasing timesheets or weekly deadlines.
Project managers can also easily accept or reject timesheets, highlighting the reason in a comment for employees to see. Managers can view time tracking data in a variety of reports, making task assignment easier based on individuals’ working speeds. Crono can also use this data to create project invoices, helping your business communicate costs accurately.
The real benefit here is that Crono uses AWS cloud hosting, meaning their timesheet app is fully secure and can hold unlimited numbers of tasks. They are based in the UK, so their development and support services are set up for UK businesses.
You probably had already heard of Slack, the office instant messenger. With a counter-intuitive brand name and upbeat colour scheme, it’s hard to ignore. When your business moves to remote working, communication is absolutely key. Slack makes it easy to keep everyone up to date, without lengthy emails or having to use personal phones. And it’s free!
With Slack, everything from instructions to casual chat is covered. You can talk with colleagues one on one in private conversations. For group discussions, you can also create multiple channels. These can help keep conversations about different projects separated from each other. You can also use keywords or dates to search Slack for a particular message if you need to check details, just like with email.
Slack also facilitates online calls, including video calling, so you never have to miss out on face time. Their system supports file-sharing, and most major apps like Google Docs and Asana develop plug-ins to make cross-platform communications as simple as possible. When you share, for example, a link to a Google Doc, Slack will prompt you to link your app permissions. Accepting this means that instead of a mysterious URL, your colleague can see the title and a preview of the document.
With such wide-reaching capabilities, Slack is fast becoming ubiquitous workplace software. With emojis and comment threads available, Slack brings our modern online languages into professional communications.
The astronomical rise of Zoom during Lockdown has been noted by many in the media world. From an unknown quantity with questionable security, Zoom has flipped its reputation to become the Google of video-calling technology.
While Skype requires users to have their own accounts, Zoom provides a link to a private call which can be accessed by anyone with a connection. Of course, a camera and microphone are essential, but as these are now built into most desktop computers, the barriers to using Zoom are few and far between. With Zoom, you can easily set up chats and meetings that require a little more spontaneity.
Trello is a fantastic and free way to keep track of tasks and to-do lists when working on multiple projects. Available on mobile and desktop, Trello users can create unlimited Boards to share with their teams or keep as personal planners. Within each board, you can add Lists which you populate with individual cards for each task. Users can then move cards around and customise them with a range of features, such as labels, images, checklists, due dates and assignees.
Trello is a popular choice for businesses and individuals alike. There are many online tutorials for how to get the most out of Trello, depending on your particular use. For project managers helping their teams work from home, Trello Boards for each project are a great idea, allowing you to compartmentalise tasks and only share with the relevant people.
There are thousands of add-ons or PowerUps available, such as the calendar view, which sorts all cards that have deadlines into an easy to use calendar. Users can also use PowerUps to add card relationships or approval requests. Explore the Trello PowerUps library to see what’s available. Trello is fully customisable, with limitless possibilities for successful project management.
For businesses that rely on paper forms, the transition to remote working has been difficult. If you require your employees to submit forms for particular tasks, the lockdown has likely created difficulties and delays for your business, costing valuable time and frustrating clients. To effortlessly convert forms from paper to digital, Noti offers endless customisation options and some useful special features.
Noti has two user types: Administrators and Employees. Administrators can create and distribute forms, while employees can fill them out and submit them from their mobile devices. This means that the app is useful to any industry, whether your remote workers are static in a home office or working in a variety of locations. Noti removes the need for carrying paperwork around, reducing instances in which forms can be lost and submissions delayed.
For extra easy evidencing, Noti offers form fields for GPS tags and photographs. An employee submitting a form can add photographs of the completed job, or of any problems, and tag the form with a GPS location pin to prove they were in the right place at the right time. Noti stores each completed form as a single file, so that what is submitted together, stays together.
The Noti system is fully scalable, using AWS cloud storage to provide unlimited use to subscribing businesses. Forms can also be customised to include company branding, keeping your workplace paperwork professional. For an easy way to digitise your business’s paperwork and keep everyone working from home effectively.
There are so many options for productivity apps to help us work from home. For business-wide solutions to support your team, the best apps are those which offer easy user onboarding, free basic downloads and AWS cloud storage. While Trello sorts your workflow, Slack and Zoom keep lines of communication open. Noti can convert all your business’s paperwork into digital forms, accessible from anywhere at any time. Finally, keeping track of time management takes no time at all, with Crono’s online timesheets app.