What remote work apps did your company start using after the COVID-19 pandemic began?
If you're like most employees or managers, you've added a few more than you might have expected to need. For some, the tools were already in place, but no one had to rely on them until the pandemic began.
It may have been a rocky start, but, over time, your team has become fluent in these tools. Now, as companies begin returning to the office full-time, it's time to decide which tools to keep.
It can be a difficult decision, but we have a few suggestions to help your team take advantage of the past year of innovations.
Let's get started.
1. Microsoft Teams or Slack
45 million people began using Microsoft Teams between November of 2019 and April of 2020. And 100,000 organizations integrated Slack in the past year.
Using tools to communicate when working remote was an obvious choice last year. But using them to talk across the hallway when you're back in the office isn't quite as intuitive.
In the office, a business instant messaging app allows people to spend less time emailing, creating invitations, and getting up from their desks. Plus, all your conversations stay in one application and are organized by the conversation's members.
Instant messaging for business offers simplicity and focus. This isn't something you'll want to let go of even when you're back in the office. And if you don't have it yet, you're really missing out.
2. Donut or Ice Breaker Bot
Both Slack and Microsoft Teams offer integrations. Some integrations create polls, send gifs, or even create custom emojis. They can also help bring your team closer together.
For larger teams, connecting people across departments can be difficult. Donut is a tool working to change that. Once a week, the tool pairs everyone with a partner they then virtually meet. Whether it's a CEO and an intern or a software developer and a marketing specialist, the meetings help your team stay connected while apart.
Donut is only available for Slack users, but Teams Users can add a similar integration called Icebreaker Bot.
The need for connections throughout your organization doesn't stop after remote work ends. As face-to-face meetings become safer, these across-department meetings could become even more valuable.
3. Mobile Hotspots
Remote work wasn't an invention of 2020. Even before last year, telecommuting was on the rise. And with further refining of at-home teams, telecommuting will continue to grow. If continued remote work is in your future, consider purchasing a mobile hotspot.
It's common for remote workers to spend time working in public places like coffee shops. But public WIFI can be a security risk for your organization. Mobile hotspots allow your team to work anywhere—from a local coffee shop to the other side of the world without accessing public WIFI.
iPhone and Android phones both already have mobile hotspots, which may suffice for some employees. Those in need of something more powerful should consider equipment such as Verizon's MiFi or NETGEAR Nighthawk.
Keeping a team remote has plenty of benefits, but security is a top concern as well. Make sure to stay safe by supplying them with a mobile hotspot.
Zoom has become the backbone of business, entertainment, and education. As organizations return to the office, the app's need will decrease, but that doesn't mean you should toss it out of the window.
Now that teams have acclimated to Zoom, there's no reason to stop using it when needed. Webinars are still valuable for businesses serving a large region. Zoom meetings may even garner more attendance to events from those who can't physically attend.
Video conferencing has been a staple of business for a long time. Trying to avoid Zoom fatigue by switching to a new platform or getting rid of the app will not be easy. Since your team is familiar with Zoom, consider keeping the app in rotation.
5. File Storage Service
Whether you run a small business or an S&P 500 company, chances are you have an overwhelming amount of company documents. Between marketing materials, employee documents, and customer information, there's a lot to store.
Before March 2020, some companies could get away with keeping documents saved on individual computers. When teams went remote, this system was no longer an option. Communication became more vital than ever before.
Google Docs, Microsoft SharePoint, and Dropbox are a few public tools solving this communication crisis. Most teams had the tools before, but focusing on improving and using the infrastructure has maximized its benefits.
However, if your company deals with sensitive information, public options are not safe. Consider a private cloud hosting solution to protect your files from hackers and ransomware.
This improved communication isn't worth giving up when teams return from remote work. Now that the benefits of the tools have been recognized, cloud-based file storage is here to stay.
6. Project Management Tools
Working on a collaborative project and not knowing the status can be irritating. Whiteboards and in-person conversations used to do the trick, but when teams moved remote, the old way just didn't cut it. Email chains and conference calls were too disorganized, but projects had to move forward.
Teams began to use online to-do lists and project management software to keep moving. Here are a few that we have found useful:
A shared to-do list sounds simple, but a wide variety of features differentiate the tools. Monday, for example, is customizable, allowing its uses to go beyond project management. On the other hand, Microsoft To Do offers simplicity to help your team focus on its most essential tasks.
Deciding what's best for you might take a few downloads and free trials. If you don't have the time, contact an IT team to let them narrow it down for you. They can show you which app would be best for you based on your needs.
7. Team Calendars
Ever tried to schedule a meeting with someone only to find out their calendar was full?
A team calendar can be your savior. Simple as it is, team calendars have been a lifeline for many businesses in the past year. And there's no doubt they will continue to help enterprises run for years to come.
A lot of tools you may already use include a shareable calendar. Google and Microsoft both offer great options, and many of project management tools have one as well.
GitHub is similar to a file storage service, but its focus is helping programmers keep track of source code. Members of a team can make changes to a single code instead of emailing edits.
Developers worldwide have used GitHub long before the COVID-19 pandemic. But the company has grown since last year. Along with a software update, more organizations have started using the software. Users created 35 percent more code repositories. Open-source project creation is also up 25 percent, with an increase of people working on the weekends.
At this point, GitHub is the industry standard, and your team's collaboration and efficiency can improve by using the app.
This might be the most important one of all.
Do you have a Giphy integration for Slack or Microsoft Teams? Don't lose it. Nothing’s better than getting a funny gif from a coworker on a Monday morning.
And that won't change, even after the pandemic.
Next Steps: IT Solutions for Remote Work Apps
Whether you're back in the office or not, these remote work apps should give your team an edge as you continue growing. We hope this article has helped you narrow down your choices.
Want to take your apps to the next level? Get in touch with us today to learn how SH Data Technologies can help your team stay focused on what matters most.
Alex Holcomb is a Marketing Communications Specialist at SH Data Tech.