Tap into these apps to optimise remote workingWhile more popular systems by Facebook and Skype might be go-to tools for many, now is the perfect time to experiment with other collaborative platforms.
Many local businesses, organisations, and institutions have started implementing work-from-home policies to support social distancing efforts, to combat the rapid spread of Covid-19. And in tiring times like these, the concept of remote work has turned into a necessity rather than a luxury. But as more and more workforces move towards collaborative technologies, these technologies can be difficult for organisations as well as individuals to adopt. While more popular systems by Facebook, Skype and Google Office web applications might be the go-to tool for many local organisations, now is the perfect time to experiment with new collaborative technologies with a distinct focus on remote working.
Here we take a look at some digital systems that could be useful to both individuals and organisations while facilitating and managing remote work.
Slack is an email-replacement and messaging tool that aims to replace internal emails with department-based channels. The central philosophy of Slack is that instead of sending out individual emails to specific people within a department, short messages can be dropped inside departmental channels that everyone from a specific group can view while also enabling managers to keep track of conversations and work happening within a specific department. Slack is also jam-packed with features that help team-based communication with support for emojis, ‘reacjis’, and embedded images and files. Slack also has great video and audio-conferencing features for digital team meetings although there are better alternatives for conference calls.
Slack has a free option but also features two paid tiers: Standard and Plus. Standard packages are $8 per person and Plus packages are $15. Slack is definitely not cheap, but is one of the best team messaging apps out there that can truly replace traditional emails with a more social and interactive messaging system.
Asana is a full-fledged office on the cloud. At its core, Asana is a team management software that offering a host of features for remote work. The application supports brainstorming, calendar management, contact management, content management, discussion boards, document management, project management, real-time editing and task management systems. If you’re managing larger teams working remotely, Asana helps bring everyone together on one platform. Although Asana is great for team and project management, it misses some core features essential for managers, like job costing and resource management.
Asana is free for a team of less than 15 people. But if you want more features and support for a workforce larger than that, the Premium tier costs $11 per month per user while the more feature-rich Business tier costs $24 per month per user. While expensive, if you’re looking for a complete digital workspace for remote workers, there aren’t many better alternatives than Asana, although Bitrix24 is a close second.
InVision is a prototyping platform focused on design and development. Service-based and prototype design organisations will benefit greatly from the features of this service. The platform enables seamless communication between designers, clients and managers. InVision enables creatives to upload their projects onto the platform where clients and managers can easily tag certain elements, comment on any part of the design and also send individual messages to the creative team. The platform also supports ideation phases where collaborative discussions can take place before the actual work takes place. For web development teams, InVision also helps bridge the gap between the front- and back-end developers by providing developers with the ability to inspect and pull HTML, CSS and icons straight from the prototype rather than asking the designer to slice everything for web development.
InVision is free for one project, $15 gives you access to three simulation projects and $25 will give you access to an unlimited number of projects at the same time.
Video conferencing is one the most important cornerstones for remote work, and team and project meetings are a necessity in any kind of professional workspace. Skype for Businesses has always been the go-to service for conference calls, but while Skype is great, Zoom is better. Zoom offers better HD conferencing calls, meeting minutes and is even a bit easier on the wallet. But amidst a slew of disconnected callers, poor video or crackling audio, Zoom’s biggest selling point still remains its stability. It’s hard to put a price on a service that just works. Zoom also lets users call into a meeting via a toll-free phone number depending on service availability while enriching the experience by providing hosts with the ability to share documents, share their screens across meeting clients and even know when the Zoom window is not active on a client’s computer.
For free, Zoom lets you host up to 100 people for 40 minutes while also providing unlimited one-to-one meetings. There are paid plans as per organisations’ needs starting from $15/host to $20/host.
Trello is a simple, light-weight and easy-to-use project management tool beloved by many for its simplicity. Trello doesn’t offer as many features like most of the other tools discussed here, which is what makes Trello stand out. You don’t need to learn Trello, a single glance at the board and users will instantly understand where everything goes. The simple car design makes it easier for collaborators to create, organise and prioritise actions while also providing them with the ability to comment, review and embed files into content cards. Trello also connects with various other applications and works collaboratively with other management applications well.
The free version of Trello is extremely generous, offering unlimited project boards and collaborators. The paid versions extend Trello’s capabilities a bit but for many smaller or mid-sized businesses, the free version should be more than enough.