Welcome to the second part of our Work From Home Productivity Tips series. We’re more than a month into this lockdown and it looks like we’re in for the long haul. We earlier shared a few tips on how to maximize productivity if you and your team are working from home.
In this segment of the WFH edition, we shall share some of the tools and app recommendations that can further help streamline your tasks, team collaboration, documentation and communication.
Project Management, Collaboration and Networking tools
There are some excellent Team and Project Collaboration apps out there. Some are so good that one can consider shifting their entire work communication system to these platforms, replacing the ancient bulk emailing system
This is a great project and team management and collaboration platform.
It allows you to create multiple projects, invite clients, customize task and conversation visibility, add sub assignments under projects, assign tasks to particular team members along with deadlines and also send notifications, check task completion or extension status and share deliverables all in the same thread. Our team uses Basecamp 2 and we’d definitely say that it has helped us organize our projects, communications and clients really well. Here’s a quick demo video of this app
“After messing up within email communications and other project management systems I found our home at Basecamp. I have everything in one place, no need to dig emails again.. My team, clients and I, can all collaborate smoothly. The best part is, you can always reply through your email right into Basecamp without a sweat. It’s awesome.
– Vimal Kutmutia Founder, 17Seven Studios
They have a long list of satisfied clients that include freelancers, individuals as well as small and big companies. Basecamp for personal use is free with a limited features kit which can also work for really small teams and there’s the one for businesses with unlimited features off 99$ a month.
This is a highly useful app for designers that simplifies design delivery and feedback. All you have to do is upload your design screens on Invision and share with people to get their feedback on respective elements of the design. You can also add multiple screens under one project. Apart from collaboration, there’s a lot more you can do like prototyping, page linking, create interactive elements, import existing sketch files, animate transitions, create product design workflow and more. Learn more here.
“Before InVision, we’d send static layouts … and spend a lot of time describing and explaining the idea. With InVision, we can just let our work speak for itself.”
– Sarah Kranz, UI Design Lead, SoundCloud
InVision has a wide range of pricing plans to fit your specific needs but you can also use it for free with a limit of 1 prototype and commenting. Their clientele includes Visa, AT&T, Dell, Sony, Cisco and more.
3. Facebook Workplace
This is another brilliant platform to create workplace networks. The idea is simple, why not let colleagues use a tool they’re already familiar with, Workplace is Facebook for office. You can stream live videos, make voice and video calls from desktops and mobiles, chat, make use of the unlimited file, photo and video storage, create unlimited team and project groups, get desktop notifications, collaborate with other teams and companies, create community admins to monitor teams, integrate with G Suite, Okta, Windows Azure AD, and more. Here’s a tour.
“Workplace by Facebook is used across the entire organization. It closes some communication gaps and reduces the amount of email by replacing the interaction over email with a social media platform format. It has improved discussions and reduced the number of emails. I think that it is a more relevant tool for the younger generation — more inclusive of those who aren’t as fond of emails.”
– Adriana Paez, Category Specialist, Chevron
Their clients include Walmart, Air Asia, Heineken, Spotify, amongst others. Facebook Workplace is free with a limited number of features and a range of pricing plans to choose from as per your needs.
This is another tool where you can collaborate with your teams, have private, public and specific team conversations, share files, integrate any external apps that you use into Slack and use all of them under one platform, receive alerts, etc. You can also set reminders on Slackbot that’s much more than just an alarm, you can also feed it all your important information that you may need to access later and just ask it like you’d ask a Siri or Cortana. Most companies swear by it and are probably one of the best collaboration hubs out there. Here’s a quick tour.
“Agility is part of our working philosophy, and Slack enhances lean communication flows within our growing organisation. It allows us to efficiently share relevant business information, but also recognition and success.”
– Corentine Aronica, Corporate Communications, trivago
Slack also has a huge clientele including Royal Bank of Canada, Hubspot, Fox, Vodafone, etc. who agree that this platform has helped them really well. They have a free version with limited features as well as a range of pricing plans.
If you are a designer and looking for a list of remote tools specifically meant for designers, check out this blog written by one of my colleagues.
4. Audio, Video Call and Chat apps
If you need separate apps to chat and make video or audio calls there are many popular apps you can use for free, such as Skype, Hangouts, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, etc. The key is to have one common app throughout the team. Find out if your organization already has an enterprise suite or a team pack for any of these apps and you are sorted.
Check out this blog, 4 Easy Productivity Tips for UX Designers — Lockdown Edition where my colleague has given some great points on how to communicate effectively while working remotely.
5. Emails, Cloud Storage and File Sharing Tools
Without a doubt, email remains the most reliable and well-established mode of professional communication. When used in sync with other collaboration tools, we can ace the work from home game. Every organization has its own preferred email clients. In case you have an option, you can pick your own client to suit your needs.
The most popular ones are Gmail, Outlook, Thunderbird, Yandex Email, Email Tray, Superhuman and Zimbra. Some of these apps also provide extensive Suites that include chats and file sharing as well.
Sharing files on emails can be daunting and heavy on the mailbox, hence you can always utilize online G Suite or offline Microsoft Office Suite that includes specific apps for files of every format as well as cloud storage, Google Drive. Other popular drives are Dropbox, wetransfer, etc.
On a conclusive note, there are plenty of tools and apps out there that can help you form a decent ecosystem for working and collaborating remotely which can later also help you establish harmony between the office and work from home situations. Different systems work for different organizations, teams, and individuals. Find one that works for you and your team. And do let us know if you’ve used these tools and if you have more recommendations.