Since the start of lockdown way back in March, thousands of people have been working from home. In the early days, it wasn’t uncommon to juggle dozens of new apps, trying to figure out what works best for you, your team, and the company as a whole. Slowly, employees and employers alike have found the best working from home apps and endeavoured to streamline their operations.
And while app developers out there are yet to figure out how to stop Tabby the cat jumping uninvited into your Zoom call, they have pretty much solved every other working from home issue. In this article, we dive into the best apps solving key issues facing companies as we continue to work away from the office. From effective communication to efficient time management and maintaining tight security, here we highlight the best working from home apps.
Asana: the complete project management package
Asana provides simple, thorough project management across web-based, iOS and Android apps. It allows you to map out the steps required to complete each project. You can provide links to essential information, set deadlines for specific tasks, and allocate roles all via one platform. The whole team can see what needs to be done, who each task is assigned to, and completion deadlines. Asana takes the headache out of tracking multiple spreadsheets and endless email chains.
You can view tasks in calendar view, lists, or Kanban boards. With calendar view, it’s easy to visualise the whole team’s upcoming schedule. You can iron out any pressure points or overlaps, essential to avoid a last-minute scramble. The Kanban boards allow you to divide tasks into do, doing, and done, providing a simple overview of where things stand, allowing everyone to get on with the task at hand.
There are a whole host of additional features you can tailor to your business. You can assign tasks high, medium, or low priority to keep your team focussed. Set overarching company objectives, so that every employee understands their role within the wider success of the business. Asana also integrates seamlessly with over 100 other apps, from Salesforce to Slack and Adobe Creative Cloud.
Slack: keeping your team communicating
Lack of communication can bring project progress to a crawl and leave employees feeling isolated. Delivering everything from clear task instructions to water cooler chat is a challenge when people are no longer in the same room. As working from home becomes more common, the days of quickly asking your colleague a question are no home. Instead, they have been replaced with long-winded emails or an invasion into your personal mobile – neither ideal, efficient, or appropriate. That’s where dedicated work messaging apps like Slack are invaluable.
Slack divides conversations up into channels that connect to a specific team, topic, or project. Files can be shared directly in the channel and users can scroll back through the conversation so that everyone receives the same information. In two clicks you can transition from messaging to voice and video calls. Channels can even be used to talk to clients. You can keep all of your communication in one app but maintain the boundary between internal and external conversations.
It’s not all serious business either, emojis are included and you can respond to individual messages with a thumbs up or even the infamous winky face. What better way to keep office banter going in the working from home era?
Crono: the app taking the pain out of paperwork
For businesses without dedicated administrators, keeping on top of paperwork becomes everyone’s responsibility. To maintain productivity, it is essential to prevent it from becoming an inefficient, paper-chasing process. But equally, you also want to avoid installing a time-consuming, over-engineered IT system. Enter Crono, an exciting new app on a mission to make all paperwork digital.
Initially, Crono was a web-based timesheet platform. Their sleek, easy-to-use timesheets enabled their customers to easily assign projects to team members and track time spent on each task. They provided incredibly simple invoice management, automatically calculating client costs based on hourly rates and time spent. You could even keep track of which invoices were paid or pending.
They have taken everything they’ve learned from this incredibly successful enterprise, listened to customer feedback, and scaled up their operations. Crono is now on the cusp of releasing their brand-new iOS and Android apps, providing the same great style, service, and simplicity, but now also with forms. With ultra-fast cloud hosting, watertight data security and encryption, as well as a UK-based support team, Crono delivers reliable, virtual administrative solutions.
Process.St: using templates and checklists to manage recurring workflows
From client onboarding to content publishing or website launches, recurring procedures take place time and time again. Ensuring all staff are informed is key to maintaining continuity and avoiding needless errors. Teaching new team members how to perform these daily duties or communicating minor changes to procedures can clock up a lot of in-person hours. Process Street provides a platform to easily manage these repetitive workflows. Gone are the clunky Word documents that employees had to trawl through. Instead, Process Street lets you produce templates and checklists for all kinds of procedures that can be used to help all employees complete any task.
Firstly, you create a process template. This is a set of easy to follow instructions, clearly outlining how to complete a specific task. You can create a custom template or edit any of the existing examples provided in their template library. Checklists are personal copies of this template that are used by individual employees to track their progress. Forms can also be integrated into checklists so that you can gather structured information at the same time.
When it comes to teaching your team everything from how to generate an invoice to how to launch a podcast, Process Street is the easiest way to deliver simple instructions, effortlessly replicated and clearly communicated. Without the need for time-consuming and costly in-person training, every employee can perform almost any task.
1Password: making security more convenient for the at-home worker
Working with new apps, software, and systems has become the norm as working from home has continued. The average employee is now logging on to far more platforms for work purposes than ever before. While auto-save can be a blessing when it comes to remembering all these logins, it doesn’t offer the level of security most businesses would prefer. 1Password for individuals and businesses combines the convenience of only remembering one password, with highly secure password and platform protection.
Individual users no longer have to remember multiple passwords, they instead only have to remember one master password. Only the user has access to their Master Password and this, combined with device Secret Key’s and end-to-end encryption, provides overall industry-leading, watertight security. 1Password’s virtual watchtower even continually checks for data breaches and potentially weak passwords.
1Password for businesses allows you to share logins easily and securely with employees, regardless of their location. Providing remote access to all the tools they are going to need, without compromising your company’s security. Additional features also let administrators fine-tune who can create, access, and edit specific information.
Freedom: setting you free from social media distractions
Anyone working from home will know that there can be distractions everywhere. Without the physical presence of the rest of your team and most significantly your manager, it’s far easier to get side-tracked by the cat, the kettle and, of course, social media. Team leaders can have amazing workflow procedures in place and efficient task management apps on the go, but if your team members are busy watching cat videos on Buzzfeed or scrolling through Twitter, all that hard work won’t make the difference you were hoping for.
Freedom provides all the self-discipline you or your team might be lacking. You select the apps and websites you want it to temporarily block and then start a Freedom session. There’s no limit to the number of devices you can connect to Freedom, and it will sync your block sessions across them all. You can even schedule it to automatically run on certain days at specific times. While it may not keep the cat away or curb your tea addiction, it will quieten the digital distractions pervading your screens.
The working from home apps still to come
While the coronavirus pandemic may have been the catalyst for the recent spike in people working from home, it looks like it is here to stay. Workers are spending less time and money on commutes, while managers are maintaining their team’s productivity. It seems that everyone is a winner so far. Smart technology and innovative apps will continue to be an integral part of this framework. The best working from home apps aren’t built in a day and as we learn more about what is most useful for the remote workforce, developers can continue to finetune and develop even better apps. Our top 6 picks featured here are stellar options covering all of your working from home essentials. Stay posted and the team here at KIJO will keep you updated on the game-changing new apps entering the market.