Coronavirus has forced several employees to start working remotely. But that’s what we’ve done for years. Read on to know how technology has helped us stay productive.
The Coronavirus pandemic has ensured that ‘remote working’ or ‘working from home’ has now become a buzzword worldwide. But team Up Strategy Lab has been familiar with the concept for a while now. Our team is not only based across three countries, we have clients across the world and have spent much of the past year on the move, working from clients’ offices, coffee shops, airport lounges, hotel rooms and even from a car parked opposite a dazzling blue lake in New Zealand at the crack of dawn while on vacation.
We couldn’t do this, of course, without the help of technology. In this blog, we list the apps that we really, really like and that help us deliver real strategies to scale businesses worldwide. Do remember, there are a gazillion apps out there. Here we list just the ones that work well for us. Most of these apps have a free basic plan but offer paid plans for premium features. We reckon these apps work best for those who are part of small to medium enterprises.
Slack is a workplace communication tool that allows teams – whether colleagues in an office or freelancers working on projects remotely – to collaborate well without everyone having to send a tonne of emails. Slack is great for quick chats. It also integrates well with workplace tools offered by Office 365, G Suite and several other third-party apps, which allows Slack’s users to share documents across teams and clients without any fuss. At Up Strategy Lab, we use it to send messages internally as well as to communicate with other consultants and clients.
We love the smorgasbord of cloud-stored productivity tools that Google offers in the form of Gmail, Drive, Docs and Sheets because they seem to be built for collaboration, which Up Strategy Lab is all about. You can create a document and several people can view/edit it without anyone having to send countless emails or having to download numerous versions of documents (and possibly losing them!).
The Google Docs and Sheets are quite intuitive and user friendly though expert-level Microsoft Word or Excel users might feel that they fall a bit short on functionality. If you ask us, however, Google Docs and Sheets work well for most users. The G Suite’s cloud feature also allows you to access documents from anywhere – your smartphone, your work computer or your laptop at home. No more crying that you’ve left the document in your home laptop. Essentially, no more excuses. Get back to work!
You may have figured out by now, that we love collaboration. And we love apps like Whereby that allow us to collaborate simply and easily. Use Whereby to hold video conferences without requiring all participants to download any software to their computers or having to log in anywhere. All meetings can be held using your browser. It’s quick and easy. “We’re on a mission to give people the freedom to work and live where they thrive,” the Whereby website says. That’s the kind of mission we like. Besides Whereby, Google Hangouts or Zoom are also great for web meetings. What we use however, depends on what clients or colleagues are familiar with.
This productivity tool is great for two reasons. At a basic level, Toggl is an excellent time-tracking app, helping you increase your productivity. If you are the kind of person who finds it hard to concentrate while working from home, if you get up every five minutes to snack or if you are distracted because you are missing an office environment, you can use Toggl to discipline yourself. It allows you to see how much time you spend on a task and helps you plan your breaks better.
At another level, Toggl is great for project management especially if you are a freelancer or consultant working for multiple clients at a time. Toggl helps you keep track of the amount of time you work on each client’s project, making it easier for you to bill them. No more adding hours and minutes on your calculator.
If you are a UX/UI designer, you are probably more familiar with this software. Contrary to certain assumptions that a design software is used only by designers, Figma makes it possible for all project stakeholders – in design, marketing, engineering, strategy and others – to collaborate remotely on this cloud-based design tool. Figma does away with the annoying process of having to download and upload files back and forth between team members who are trying to share the different stages of work. Everything is always on the cloud and visible to the team. So you don’t have the whole ‘FINAL FINAL’, ‘FINAL FINAL Version 1.0’ or ‘Definitely Final Final’ happening any longer. And with more people working remotely, Figma gives collaborators the opportunity to have a single point of truth for all design, branding, product and other visual material.
Everyone needs good music to accompany them when they are working hard and Spotify gives us just that. What do we love about Spotify? We love being able to follow artists and keep up with what they are doing, we love its curated playlists that allow us to choose what to listen to depending on our mood. We also love making our own playlists. To listen to one of team Up Strategy Lab’s work playlists, click here.
Setting up meetings with customers and other external parties can be a hassle because coordinating schedules can be so complicated. We use Calendly to show our availability and make it quick and easy for colleagues and clients to set up meetings with us without endless back and forth on email.
Other apps that we like
Airmail: This is an email client for iPhone and Mac OS. We love it because it’s really fast and efficient.
WhatsApp: The browser version of WhatsApp allows us to quickly respond to messages from family, colleagues and customers without having to pick up the phone.
Evernote: Is such a great way to collect all notes, scanned business cards, articles to be saved, recipes, receipts from important purchases, etc. All organized and easy to search.
Grammarly: Not everyone has English as a first language. For team members who want to improve their written communication in English, Grammarly is great support.
1Password: Passwords, passwords, passwords and more passwords. This password manager helps us remember all of them without us losing any hair.