Updated December 2020
The outbreak of coronavirus has become one of those “black swan” events that poses an unprecedented challenge to the world economy. Throughout China, Italy, Japan, and South Korea lots of enterprises have come to a standstill, and this alarming trend is not likely to stop. Even more so, yesterday the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
The emerging challenge is putting nations as well as local businesses to a gigantic test. Everybody has to think of some contingency plan in order to survive. Among the vital public health strategies, one can name social distancing, rigorous disinfection measures, cancellation of major public activities. Plus, remote work, of course.
Why Does Remote Work Become a New Reality?
Remote work has suddenly become a new choice — or even requirement — for many businesses. Some may welcome this decision as it means no commuting & the luxury of having lunch in the comfort of your home. Others may feel isolated, miss the office atmosphere or find it challenging to concentrate on work when the boss is not around.
Like it or not, remote work is becoming a new reality that is here to stay. Tech giants, such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google are already telling their employees to work from home, and many other companies are following suit.
Here are a few stats to convince you that more companies are embracing work from home today. And the coronavirus crisis has only added to this trend:
- 88% of organizations worldwide shifted to remote work during the pandemics, regardless of whether their employees showed coronavirus-related symptoms or not;
- About two-thirds of teleworkers expressed their desire to continue to work from home after the pandemics;
- 47% of workers reported being “more productive” while teleworking during Covid-19;
- Almost half of all jobs in the US could be done remotely;
- Telework is the most popular in finances (77,9%), information technology (71,2%), professional and business services (69,9%), and public administration (65,2%);
- The lowest number of remote employees is in agriculture (8,3%), leisure and hospitality (13%), construction (17,3%), and transportation (25,4%);
- $46.7 billion is the sum that companies spend on collaboration tools in the US.
In a way, implementing “work from home arrangements” is a new acid test that shows if your business is flexible enough & adaptable to emerging challenges. Sadly, however, not every business passes this test with flying colors. Why so? Besides trust issues, about 54% of HR leaders indicate that “poor technology and/or infrastructure for remote working is the biggest barrier to effective remote working in their organizations”.
Is this true for your business? Do you also suffer from the lack of efficient instruments & tools? In other words, is your company ready for remote work?
7 Basic Tools to Help your Team Work Remotely
Speaking about Pics.io, we are lucky to have remote work culture deeply rooted in the DNA of our company. Since day one, we’ve been developing a remote working mindset among our colleagues & it has proved to be more than rewarding. As of today, around half of our team is working remotely, in three different time zones. Without any discomfort whatsoever!
Much of our success is due to remote technologies that we use in our daily routine making our remote work possible. It took us some time to develop an efficient ecosystem of instruments to support our distributed collaboration. And now we would like to share our best practices with you.
Here are our top 7 work from home apps for efficient remote working.
1) Time Doctor
Controlling remote teams is a lot of work for business managers. How can you make sure that your team is spending their billable hours productively? The good news is, there are a lot of tools promoting workplace transparency.
Our favorite one is Time Doctor - a time-tracking platform that oversees the team's performance, checks if your employees don't procrastinate at work, and optimizes payroll based on what the team accomplished.
Time Doctor is easy to set up and it comes with a lot of handy integrations - Google Apps, Asana, Trello, Basecamp, GitHub, Slack, and many more. Time Doctor was a lifesaver for Pics.io once our team went remote. It's our go-to tool for ensuring workplace transparency.
We are a software development company, so it goes without saying that Github is a must-have for our team. A shared cloud-based repository in Git is indeed the backbone of the entire development process in Pics.io. Github is a powerful version control and collaboration platform that keeps our whole development team on the same page. Simply put, we love it.
The second tool that greatly facilitates our remote working is our own app that we develop. Pics.io is a cloud-based digital asset management solution. In other words, it’s a service that helps your team easily locate & reuse all digital assets you have: visuals, marketing banners, landing page designs, various icons, videos… you name it.
In a way, it’s similar to Github — a vast repository of all things visual with version control, collaboration tools & powerful multi-faceted search. It’s a shared space where our developers, designers, and the whole marketing team can quickly find the right assets — sparing us from sending files back & forth, which is annoying and time-consuming.
As you can see, we “eat our own dog’s food” — using our own service — and we really enjoy it.
The next tool on our list is Slack, of course. We absolutely adore it and choose it above all other team chats for its flexibility & variety of features.
What’s so good about Slack?
We love the way we can funnel different messages into different channels in Slack. And we also like it that we can have both open discussions & private face-to-face conversations. Truth be told, however, we are trying to reduce the number of private talks and “keep all our cards on the table”.
And again, we benefit a lot from Slack integration with Pics.io. We configured it so that all-important messages about our own digital library arrive at the relevant channel in Slack. So do all alarm messages about the current state of the Pics.io app. So, if something urgent happens in the service, we discover that in a matter of seconds and rush to fix it.
In the times of coronavirus threat, team cohesion in your workplace is of the utmost importance. Chanty is a one-size-fits-all collaboration app, which will grant you unlimited message history, easy-to-use task manager, and regular notifications. The tool is collaboration software and business messenger rolled into one, which will definitely improve your productivity.
That’s the video-conferencing tool of our choice. It’s probably one of the most cost-effective & reliable instruments of this kind available on the market.
What do we do in Zoom? A lot. We have our daily stand-up meetings in Zoom when the whole distributed team gathers in one virtual space & actually sees each other. We also organize our demo-calls and customer support sessions in Zoom. It’s pretty convenient as almost everyone is already aware of this tool. And if somebody isn’t, the tool is so straight-forward and intuitive, that you can get the hang of it in a matter of minutes.
A big benefit is you can use Zoom for free with all the nice features it has to offer, such as conversation recording, screen sharing, and even the in-built chat which is also very useful.
7) Google Workspace
This tool that pulls together the entire team wherever they may be. Of course, we take advantage of Gmail corporate email, shared files, and unlimited storage that is integrated with our Pics.io app.
This is where we have migrated all our shared files. It’s the place where we keep our documents, spreadsheets, corporate playbooks & where we collaborate on all the texts that we produce for Pics.io. Even this article was first written and edited in Google Doc before it was published on Medium.
Bonus app: Easy Projects
It’s the tool helping to complete your projects more efficiently than ever. We use it as a personalized workspace for project management. The integration of our Pics.io tool with Easy Projects helps to send digital assets to the team seamlessly by having our media automatically sync from Pics.io to the designated task in Easy Projects.
The additional benefit is the opportunity to see all the project’s correspondence in one place as the tool allows us to sync comments to digital assets in Pics.io with the message board in Easy Projects.
Best Free Software to Support Your Team
Looking for remote work software but don’t want to involve any extra costs? Try out these free tools to make your team even more productive:
- As a video messaging platform, Loom will help you shoot & share short video messages for your teammates. Yet unusual, this form of communication is much faster than typing all your messages or scheduling live video calls.
- Freshworks is free productivity software, with a vast product suite for businesses. To help small businesses to go through the pandemics, the company offers its customer engagement tools for free. (But only for businesses with less than 50 employees.)
- Mattermost is open-source software for your team to communicate. With its powerful integrations, file sharing, & search, the tool makes up a great competitor to Slack.
- With Discord instant messaging, live streaming becomes easy & completely free of charge. And unlike similar platforms, the tool supports up to 50 users at once!
- Rocket Chat is one more Slack alternative you might want to consider. I bet you’ll like the tool, with its integrated live chat for websites, ability to do audio & video calls, and guest access.
And don’t be lazy to check other software available. For example, most of the tools we’ve mentioned have free plans. Pics.io, Zoom, Slack – all of them have free plans & other offers to suit most whimsical users.
So, what’s the bottom line?
With all these online tools at hand, we at Pics.io are sitting pretty in the face of the new virus that makes us stay away from our offices.
In fact, with or without a virus, the entire world is getting more and more remote. By 2030 it is expected that 60–70% of businesses in the USA will work remotely. The virus will only accelerate this process.
And if you are still afraid of the technical side of going remote, look at our selection of tools again. There is nothing too expensive or too sophisticated on this list. Yet, this basic set of online collaboration tools has been keeping our remote team alive & kicking for years already.
Sounds inspiring, doesn’t it?
If you liked these recommendations, share the article with your friends and colleagues. If you know other useful tips for remote work that you use every day we would be happy to let this discussion develop further. Do not forget to include Pics.io in the list of your remote working software.