Since there has been a rise in concerns over the rapid spread of COVID-19, organisations across the globe have been urging their employees to switch to working from their homes. However, as compared to their office premises, there are several challenges faced by employees in terms of collaboration, video conferencing, coordination, online learning, documentation, and project management.
While many connectivity and communication platforms still offer free — but restricted — variants of their apps, others have introduced new offers in the middle of the ongoing crisis, usually to provide additional paid functionality at no additional cost. Some have also made their programs free for use by health organizations and educational institutions.
Here is our pick of the top 5 free online tools which can best help your organisation to enable effortless remote working for you and your employees:
1. G Suite as Documents Exchange & Collaboration Tool
G Suite is a collection of Google-enabled collaboration platforms. It offers various free applications, such as Gmail, Drive, and Google Docs, that are beneficial for a team collaborating remotely. It offers unlimited storage for your files, photos, emails and documents which can be accessed from anywhere.
You can easily store all of your files in the cloud, thanks to Google Drive, which means you don’t have to think about storing them on your machine and phone. This saves on precious storage space on your devices and means they can be retrieved from anywhere and at any time.
Highlights – What Sets GSuite Apart?
- The suite comes with apps that make you and your team function concurrently on the same documents. Changes to documents can be viewed in real-time, and a history of edits made to documents is retained to allow roll-backs.
- You can control access selectively, allowing freedom to edit documents for co-workers while ensuring that it is not accessible to others
- There’s even a built-in chat feature that you and your colleagues can use to exchange thoughts and connect.
2. Zoom for Video Conferencing
In today’s era, Zoom is being used by virtually everyone, from grandmoms to large enterprises such as Uber and GoDaddy. Zoom Meetings provides all the tools an organisation requires to host meetings online, no matter how big or small it might be. Participants can join from anywhere in the world through a computer or mobile device, if they have an internet connectivity. They can control their cameras so that anyone can see them or switch off their video if they want privacy. Each person may also switch off his or her microphone to make sure that while someone talks there are no background noises. Zoom Meeting offers lots of other useful features, such as record meeting, screen sharing, chat, virtual hand-raising, polls and mute participants.
Zoom has become popular with millions of users shifting to the video conferencing app, becoming the Play Store’s most downloaded app. It integrates one interactive approach for HD video conferencing, remote corporate forums, webinars and smartphone apps — which makes it simple and intuitive for most of us to use.
Highlights – What’s Special About Zoom?
- Zoom is simpler to use than most other alternatives, which makes it popular amongst users. It lets more than 50 people join the meeting at the same time, which is a beneficial feature for medium-sized businesses.
- The best part is you just need to start a Zoom call with just one user, while others can just click on the (recurring or unique) meeting connection and hop right in from their computer, tablet or laptop. Also, there is less reliance on expensive hardware for video conferencing on Zoom.
3. Slack for Coordination, Collaboration and Communication
Slack is another tool which has been revolutionising the way virtual teams collaborate, with the ability to filter and coordinate various lines of communication.
Slack is a meeting area for the whole planning party, a water-cooler, a bulletin board and a telephone-tree. It is a wonderful place to network and interact, and a nice way to get to know your fellow leaders and campaigners at the same time, even if you can’t always be in the same space. It’s a tool you can use on your screen and phone to remain in contact with your squad, getting you up-to-date with the latest news and happenings.
Highlights – Why Does Slack Stand Out?
- Slack stands out because of its ability to create private and public channels for your team, allowing more productive communication.
- It’s a great way to stay connected and energized with a large team, even if you can’t all be simultaneously in the same place. It enables teamwork and connectivity in real-time, but still helps people to catch up easily.
4. Moodle as an Online Learning Tool
Learning is a critical business function and Moodle fits the needs of organisations of all types and sizes. Most specifically, Moodle is used for online instruction, training and, in certain instances, expanded business processes through organizations, businesses, hospitals, and nonprofits.
Moodle is being used for varied learning applications including onboarding and related-training, workplace safety training, hiring and interview process, product and service launches, compliance training. Other than these, it is also utilised for competency-based training and management, online learning and continued education opportunities, online course development, and communities of expertise.
Highlights – What makes Moodle standout?
- Anyone can adopt, expand or update Moodle without any license fees for commercial and non-commercial ventures and benefit from cost-efficiencies, versatility
- Moodle offers the most versatile tool-set that can support both absolute-online courses and blended learning.
- The platform is well-supported by dedicated full-time developers, an active international community and a well-established network of certified Moodle partners. This wide connection leads to the achievement of rapid improvements and bug fixes across the learning tool.
5. Trello for Project Management
There are many approaches and tools for project management, but Trello stands because of its simple system for coordinating and tracking tasks at a glance.
Trello is an online interactive project management resource that will assist you in organising your tasks on one platform. It is extremely visual and highly adaptable, which makes your life easier when your project involves multiple people, especially when they are working from different locations.
It operates on a three-tier information system – Boards, Lists and Cards. There are many uses of this platform, which include sharing files with team members, keeping track of to-do lists, performing batch handling of cards in a list, commenting on a card for updating workers, and inserting new unlimited cards. Trello can resize itself to any screen size and, therefore, be operated on every platform, whether it is on a tablet, personal computer or phone.
Highlights – What makes Trello Standout?
- With its versatility, Trello appeals to most, and provides premium features even with its free accounts.
- In addition to its iOS and Android versions, Trello works in every web browser. This means that anyone who has an internet connection should be able to access its functionality.
- Trello incorporates and integrates elements from a variety of project management applications. This includes the intuitive whiteboard function where participants map out the steps they follow from project-start to project-end, and coordinate their thoughts.
If you’re used to clocking in at your workplace, then getting accustomed to working from home can take some time. While working remotely, employees tend to disconnect from their colleagues, however the software tools listed above makes it easier for them to stay connected with others and, in turn, excel at their job from the comfort of their homes.