Essential tech tools for staying connected while working apart

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an avalanche of changes and affected the lives of billions of people, particularly their work lives. And much like Voltaire once said “no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible”, it is at times difficult to feel a sense of responsibility to our jobs when we suddenly find ourselves working from home and trying to cope with this avalanche of changes. Many businesses, however, are stepping up and helping their employees by using technology that enables them to continue their employment while also following stay-at-home directives. As a result, many employees and employers are suddenly seeing that remote work offers great flexibility. It also demands flexibility. Businesses and employees, for example, must be flexible with different work schedules, methods of communication, and the overlap between work and personal hours. Thankfully, there are tech tools to help with many of these issues. We take a look at some of them below.

Communication tools

Effective digital communication in the workplace has long been essential to business success, but the current WFH circumstances have made it even more essential. Digital communication tools can help foster productivity and keep employees connected and up to date on their tasks. Currently, one of the most popular of these tools is Slack, which allows users to easily communicate with other team members while offering a variety of channels for doing so. Of course, there are plenty of other quality workplace communication apps out there too such as Google Hangouts, Trello, and Workzone.

Project management tools

Project management tools are needed so that project managers can organize work and manage projects and tasks. They are indispensable to a team’s ability to meet goals, and control resources and costs. Many such effective tools exist, but one of the most widely used is Jira, which was initially designed for software developers but can also be used for many types of projects. Other comparable apps include Crocagile, Blossom, and Active Collab.

Scheduling tools

Calendars are nothing new to our personal or professional lives, but in the remote work environment, they’re even more essential. We need them to keep our schedules straight, to see important events we’ve planned, and to coordinate social plans, business meetings, and work sessions. Google Calendar is the goto online calendar for just about everyone because of its flexibility and numerous built-in features and capabilities, but there are also quality alternative calendars such as Microsoft’s Outlook Calendar, Agenda, and Cal.

A cloud storage service

A cloud storage system lets users store files beyond just hard drive capacity and contributes to productivity and collaboration by making it easy to access, share and edit secured files. Two of the most popular cloud services are Google Drive and Dropbox, but there are also several others such as Microsoft’s OneDrive and Canto.

A team strengthening app

Businesses thrive better when there are friendly and cooperative team relationships, a healthy company culture, and a greater sense of connectedness between coworkers. Remote work, however, strains this dynamic, so apps that can help in this regard are a welcome tech tool for any business. Donut, a free app that is compatible with Slack, and Bonusly, a platform for recognizing and rewarding teammates, are excellent examples of apps that help improve company culture and employee relationships.

A time-tracking app

While it is imperative that businesses learn to trust that their employees are working at a reasonable pace and can meet deadlines, time tracking software is still vital to successful and productive WFH outcomes. It allows employers and employees to record the time they spent on assigned tasks and is helpful for establishing accountability and priorities, and for letting managers know when a task has been completed. Many such time-tracking apps exist such as TimeDoctor, ProWorkFlow, and Zenefits.

A video conferencing solution

Video conferencing apps allow users located anywhere in the world to hold face-to-face meetings without having to meet in the same geographic location. Businesses with offices around the world have been using this technology for a long time, but with the new WFH situation, many more businesses are also relying on it to continue their operations. Video conferencing tool, Zoom, became instantly famous after COVID-19 struck, but there are many other viable video conferencing apps too such as GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex Meetings, and Google Hangouts.

A note about security

According to a recent BitSight report, home office networks are 3.5 times more likely than corporate networks to be infected by malware, an issue brought into even greater focus since the coronavirus pandemic. Hackers are taking advantage of the expanded attack surface created by the WFH circumstances to attack businesses. It’s not just big businesses that are targeted either: 43% of cyberattacks in the last year involved small businesses. This is why it’s more crucial than ever for businesses of all sizes to take sufficient security measures such as using a powerful cybersecurity solution that protects all their business computers, a VPN to secure the network connection, and a password management tool for encrypting and securing passwords.
Avalanches, adaptations, and advances – you got this!

Yes, COVID-19 brought about an avalanche of changes to our lives. Yes, those changes necessitated adaptations to the way we work and communicate with our colleagues. But an even more resounding yes that it hasn’t prevented us from moving forward. Thanks to all the excellent communication and collaboration tools available, we can still work, stay productive, and advance in our jobs, even if our job is at home.