12 Must-have Remote Work Tools to Keep Your Team Productive While Working From Home
With the spread of the Coronavirus disease, working from home has been more important than ever for many businesses. Making sure communication is constant while ensuring that productivity is also at its peak is essential to any business. Whether it’s using Microsoft Teams for video conferences or using DropBox to host your business’ documents, taking a look into these apps and platforms may be beneficial to your business in the long run.
However, some might say, “isn’t it more confusing using more apps when I can just email or text a person?”
While this may be true in some instances, using platforms that allow for more collaboration and better security bring more benefits.
Greater Productivity: Working with apps that are designed to ease collaboration can really boost productivity within in a business. Apps such as Slack which are organized in a way where information can easily be accessed and shared can reduce the stress one might encounter when searching for certain items. Software platforms such as G Suite allows information to be stored in one place, making it easier for team members to find. Having apps and platforms like these reduce the stress and clutter a lot of business’ may have to process.
Better Team Morale: Working from home can be very daunting as one can feel lonely and frustrated without having the usual support. However, taking the time to look through certain apps such as Microsoft Teams, which allows for video calls with multiple people and live events, and Timezone.io, which allows you to see where exactly your team is, can allow for better collaboration and reduce those feelings of frustration and loneliness.
This blog will cover four areas that you’ll need to better your business: Communication Tools, File Sharing Tools, Security Tools, and Tracking and Reporting Tools. So, let’s take a look at them!
Slack is an incredibly convenient communication tool that allows teams to collaborate virtually anywhere they are with a stable internet connection.
The app allows you to organize various chats, called channels, based on how your business is structured.
The app is also super compatible, allowing you to share documents, images, and other forms of media to those in the channel. Members can also create a thread, further discussing a topic while limiting the clutter one might see in a regular message chain.
Microsoft Teams is another communication method that is similar to Slack. However, the platform takes advantage of some Microsoft features.
Microsoft teams allows you to start audio and video meetings, host live conferences, and even records these meetings for future uses.
The platform is also compatible with Microsoft 365 allowing you to experience the benefits all at once.
3CX is an open standards PBX that works with popular SIP trunk providers and IP phones to allow you to setup a fully functional IP PBX with a complete set of unified communications features. 3CX is well known for its easy installation and management; setup is concluded within minutes and it’s available on premise or in the cloud. Apart from easy installation and management 3CX is also a zero admin and highly secure PBX. Many aspects of running a PBX are automated; security, backup and restore, update management and failover are all automatically managed by 3CX.
3CX is setting the standard in PBX security. The inbuilt security includes automatic generation and management of SSL certificates, global IP blacklisting, voice traffic encryption via SRTP, traffic to the 3CX apps is encrypted via SBC, provisioning of phones is done via uaCSTA and much more.
The on premise version of 3CX can be installed on Windows or Linux and can be virtualized using VMware or Hyper-V. For smaller offices with no server available 3CX can even be installed on a low cost MiniPC as a PBX Appliance or even on a Raspberry Pi device. With the PBX Express, 3CX’s cloud PBX deployment tool, configuring a PBX in the cloud has never been easier. Choose between cloud providers such as Google, Amazon, OVH, 1&1 and any Openstack Linux VPS Provider, using your own cloud account. After completion you get a free cloud PBX for unlimited extensions.
File Sharing Tools:
DropBox is another convenient and efficient way to share large files. While this platform doesn’t offer a variety of tools such as G Suite, it is effective in sharing
All you have to do is upload your file to your Dropbox account and then share access to it with your colleagues. It’s that simple.
For remote workers who want additional functionality and extra storage space, Dropbox Business can be used to better organize team content and store files from other popular tools like Google Docs and Microsoft Office.
5. G SUITE:
G Suite is a simple, efficient, and convenient for sharing files remotely. G Suite is a platform that allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, power points, and allows you to share those items with other team members.
All these documents are hosted in a drive, and that drive is shareable to anyone within the business. Your business can create team drives where all your business’ documents can be hosted.
G Suite is very easy to use and only takes create a Google account to use. Pricing for G Suite can be from $6 per month to $25 per month dependent upon the plan you buy.
Office 365- OneDrive, is simply Microsoft’s version of G Suite. This platform allows you to store and share documents in a drive or cloud.
OneDrive consists of many convenient features such as saving your documents to the cloud, and working on them through any device that is signed into the cloud. You can also share your documents with your team and work on it at once, allowing for seamless collaboration. The platform is also fitted with multiple security features to prevent attacks and recover deleted files.
Your business can reap the benefits of OneDrive with a monthly payment anywhere from $5 to $12.50 dependent upon the plan you decide to buy.
Bitdefender GravityZonec is the leading business-grade hosted endpoint protection solution. It works on Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS platforms with full support for modern mobile platforms. The stack of solutions is comprehensive and can suit the needs of small to midsize businesses (SMBs) as well as larger organizations. Bitdefender GravityZone features antivirus (AV), anti-malware, software firewall, content control, device control, and Microsoft Exchange protection on the server-side.
PCMag said “In our latest round of testing, we expanded our scope to cover not only its standard endpoint protection features, including anti-malware testing, but also more advanced attacks—especially how it handles ransomware protection for businesses. The good news is, Bitdefender did just as well in these tests, making it an all-around winner for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) looking for a one-stop endpoint security solution.
Priced at $2 per month, Bitdefender is well suited for companies that require a high level of security and desire a high level of control and flexibility for developing policies that are user group specific. Companies that have internal IT should find this very useful. Companies that are externally hire to provide IT business management solutions would also find this very beneficial.
In today’s day and age, simply needing a username and password to log in to an account may not be enough to protect the account’s security. Cisco’s Duo Multi-Factor Authentication adds another layer of security to ensure that the right person is logging into their account.
Duo uses Duo Push, U2F and Biometrics, and Tokens and Passcodes all as methods of the multi-layer authentication. Duo Push simply requires downloading the Duo app and approving any login attempts and transactions. The U2F Authentication method requires a USB to ensure that your account is secure while the Biometrics is built into the computer, using forms of Touch ID as authentication. The Tokens and Password methods simply require a generated password from a physical token, a mobile device, or a network administrator.
Duo is free for up to 10 users, then can range from $3 to $9 depending upon the plan your business goes with.
Investing in a full disk encryption can be heavily beneficial to your business in the long run, potential saving you a lot of money. A lot of businesses might not want to invest in a disk encryption as it might seem useless. However, this is putting your business at a tremendous risk.
Businesses that were hacked and had their clients’ information stolen ended up having to pay thousands, and even millions in lawsuits causing more problems. These hacks and lawsuits not only cause financial problems, but they can also bring down the reputation of your business.
For pricing on a Full Disk Encryption for your business, feel free to reach out to Preeminent Technology for a consultation.
Tracking & Reporting Tools:
Toggl is a great app to track exactly how long it is taking to accomplish certain projects or assignments. Tracking how long it is taking for you to finish an assignment can allow your team to create models that can allow your team to work even more efficiently the next time.
Whether it’s simply tracking hourly pay or how productive you were, Toggl is an amazing way to visualize that. You can start tracking how long you’ve been working on your phone, and it’ll sync to your laptop. The app even comes with features that can automatically start tracking for you and can even track your team’s activity.
Toggl is free to use for up to 5 members. You can also purchase the starter pack ($10 per month) or the premium pack ($20 per month) which offers more features such as tracking team activity, etc.
Finally, we have Timezone.io. This app tells you exactly where each person on your team is.
Working remotely has its advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage may be not working with your team in real life. And now with the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people have been forced to work from home or tend to the care of their loved ones – cities away. Therefore, your team is probably going to be working at different times. So, Timezone.io allows you to know exactly where your team members are and which time zone they are in, allowing you to plan accordingly.
The app is even great for businesses that have members who travel or deliver items often. Seeing where your employees/team members are during work hours can allow to run your business smoothly.
ActivTrak is an amazing tool in understanding how your employees work. ActivTrak collects your employees’ user activity data, allowing you to see how productive they are being during the workday.
ActivTrak is a helpful tool to use, especially now, as you’ll be able to see how much work is being done from home. The platform will allow you to better develop remote workforce management and create techniques that will make your team even more productive.
ActivTrak is free for up to three users, then costs $7.20 per month for the advanced version, which comes with unlimited users and data storage.
Many companies are currently dealing with a transition from a work environment to a home environment. Using these tools can be the next step to ensure that your business has that seamless transition and can continue to do what it needs to do. For more information on how your business can stay productive, feel free to contact us for a consultation. As always, stay safe.