Proper management of work from home is dependent on the tools we use. If work from home is wearing you down, that means, you need to replace the tools that aren’t working and add some new ones. Proper tool selection leads to creating more productive, trusting, collaborative, and encouraging virtual work environments. Be it communication, project management, task assigning, reporting, self-assessment, or personal health tools, each and every one of them need to be resonating with each other and the spirit of organizational culture.
Remote working is now going to be a new normal after this pandemic is over. The tech giant TCS is also planning to enable 75% of employees to work from home by 2025. And this is a huge sign of a shift. Working from home isn’t as fun as it sounds like, I’m sure during the lock-down we’ve all felt that. Without proper management, it can all fall into chaos easily.
I’m sharing my personal choice of tools for effective work from home transition to increase the productivity of my team:
We, will, get to know
- 1 1. Communication Tools
- 2 2. Project Management Tools
- 3 3. Reporting Tools
- 4 4. Collaboration Tools
- 5 5. Self Assessment and Management tools
- 6 6. Personal Health Tools
- 7 FAQs
- 8 How can you maximize productivity when working from home?
- 9 How do you keep focused when working from home?
- 10 What are the advantages and disadvantages of working from home?
1. Communication Tools
Clear and transparent communication is the foundation of great teams and thus great organizations. To enable constant and reliable communication channels among team members is important to strategize work from home effectively.
Slack is highly recommended by professionals who’ve utilizing offshore teams and remote employees for their organization. It is very effective and reliable for smaller teams as well as large groups. You can create a new channel for every purpose and add important stakeholders there, to keep a record of all the official communications related to the project. You can share any kind of media files, document files, and information over there.
Skype is much more popular than Slack among even the common folks. It’s basically a messaging tool, but you can use it for calls as well. The calling quality is very impressive even with weak networks. Most remote teams for constant communication with ease.
Zoom is most popular for virtual meetings among professionals. It’s effective, reliable, and easy to use. This can be a very useful tool for video conferencing and webinars (web-based seminar), where you need to address a large number (up to 1000) people in your organization.
Join.me is also a virtual meeting app, which allows you to give a more personalized touch to your project discussions, group meetings, and virtual conferences. You can personalize your meeting URL, Background, Audio mode, and Screen sharing.
2. Project Management Tools
The success of any project depends on team collaboration and effective project management. For remote teams, it sometimes gets difficult to synchronize different teams working on the same projects. So choosing the right kind of project management tool becomes crucial for remote teams. There are some project management tools you can use for work from home.
This tool is used by software development teams, who can work remotely and still synchronize their work. It is most suitable for the agile methodology of project development. It has a very easy-to-use dashboard, secure interfaces, and features that make it easy for a project manager to track the progress. With its agile reporting modules increases the productivity of the team, while reducing the time of manual report submission. It also helps you in building road maps for software projects.
Asana is a favorite among software development teams all over the globe. It is one of the top recommended tools for project management and organized task management. Also suitable for Agile and Scrum, both methodologies. It becomes easy to assign tasks, track progress, and submit reports to key stakeholders. With its new automation feature, you can automate routine tasks and save time with fewer errors.
3. Base Camp
Base camp helps in managing the team and increases productivity for remote working teams. With its additional features like message boards, to-do lists, and group messaging it enables you to bring everything related to work to one place. That results in more synchronized and managed work.
3. Reporting Tools
Small businesses that are not adapted enough for remote work and have difficulty in managing their employees and their working hours, can utilize the following reporting tools for better management of staff and work hours. With following reporting tools for work from home, it will get easier to manage human resource in your organization
1. Time Doctor
Time Doctor is a smart solution for organizations that want to keep track of their remote working employees to ensure productivity and reduce the legging time. This solution is customizable with features like time tracking, report generations, chat monitoring, and app usage tracking. All these features enable you to make the most out of the team’s efforts, plus keeps the team in the discipline. With its off-track nudges and random screenshot capturing can help track the productivity of each employee.
Hubstaff is an alternative to Time Doctor because both are essentially the same but Hubstaff has some additional features such as GPS Tracking, TimeSheet Generation, Creating Payrolls, and Team Scheduling. If you have salespeople on a team, which includes traveling, a GPS tracking system helps in keeping the track of productivity. All these features are customizable for every employee. You can choose to stop GPS tracking for an employee and start time tracking for others. It is important to take consent of all employees before putting any kind of tracking system on them.
This is an open-source time tracking tool, which makes it very useful for smaller organizations, which can’t afford to pay for tracking software. It has a very easy to use dashboard and you can even generate invoices. This is ideal for the organization that charges the clients based on time spent on projects. This tool helps you track time spent on a project, which makes it easier to generate invoices. You can also set user permissions like Admins, HRs, Project Managers, etc. It is open-source, you can customize it according to your needs using Plugins and APIs.
4. Collaboration Tools
The work from home might be a new idea for some organizations, but it is not completely alien. For better management of projects in transparent communication among team members, the sharing of project-related documents and media is crucial. Using the right kind of tools for this purpose can make collaboration among teams easier.
Dropbox is well known for its content sharing among professionals. This helps in the coordination of teams of a wide spectrum. Especially in software design and development cycles need a constant exchange of documents and media. You can access data from any device using Dropbox with a seamless experience. It’s easier to find requested documents in the Dropbox easily with its advanced search feature. You can use different communication tools like Slack and Zoom for with Dropbox for better collaboration.
G-suite is a collaboration tool, which is a product of Google. The advantage of using G-suite for collaboration is that it uses Google’s highly secure infrastructure. Which makes it more reliable. Plus Google’s other products like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Drive with it. It is faster and smarter, which boosts productivity. It is designed by keeping in mind even the small businesses. This tool can be accessed throughout all devices and has a seamless user experience. With cloud back-ups, your data is never truly lost.
5. Self Assessment and Management tools
No matter how many tools an organization provides to its employees, it takes self-assessment and management to increase productivity on a personal level. Work from home sometimes feels discouraging and complex. Especially for working parents, who have to take care of their family along with their work. There are distractions, which can result in forgetfulness, less productivity, and mismanagement. For work from home, self-assessment and management tools are equally important as team management tools.
Todoist is an awesome tool for self-management and work organization. If you are struggling with an unclear and clustered mind while working from, give this tool a try. Every when starting your work, it gives you an overview of what your workday looks like. This helps you begin your work with more clarity and calm. It is pretty easy to organize task based on their priorities using Todoist.
You can even choose to delegate your tasks to team members as well as family members. Need to write an email, delegate that to assistant. Need a list of groceries to order online, ask your spouse to do it. It has notifications inbuilt, to remind you of pending tasks. At the end of the day, you can also visually track your productivity. It can be used seamlessly across all devices and connect your other favorite tools like Dropbox and Amazon Alexa with this tool.
We all need to take notes at some point in the days, during group meetings, video conferences, Client interactions, and managerial board meetings. You will also need help in writing down ideas and inspirations that you might get in unexpected moments. Evernote will help you with all these tasks and more.
You can use this tool to organize everything about your projects, works, meetings, and ideas in one place. Plus it lets you collaborate with teams on those as well. You can create different teams you work with. Especially if you are a marketer, this tool comes in handy for you. This tool can also be accessed from all kinds of smart devices.
6. Personal Health Tools
While we are confined in our homes and avoiding going out without absolute necessity, it becomes difficult to maintain mental and physical health. We can come across mental conditions such as mental burnouts, overthinking, and overly mental stress. Also, we can develop unhealthy eating habits, which eventually results in diseases. These following tools you can use to keep your mental and physical health in check while working from home.
The mind is one the most useful tool for a human being. Without this tool, we won’t be able to use any other tools efficiently. So keeping your mind creative, productive, calm, and positive needs to be your topmost priority. Take 7-10 minutes of break every 3 hours and use Headspace to sharpen your mind and meditate. There are guided mindfulness exercises in this app, you can use to release stress and bring your mind out of stress and worries.
They have a mini-meditation series, which are very helpful during small work breaks. After a long day at work, it is important that you sleep properly. Headspace helps you with that with its sleep casts and other unique audios. This will help you keep your mental health in check and increase your productivity. Plus you will be able to manage a healthy work-life balance for yourself.
Keeping up with physical activities while you need to be glued to your computer all day can be challenging. While gyms are closed for public safety, there is no way we cannot work out at home. Cure fit organizes live work out sessions, which you can utilize according to your convenience of time. You can also join these classes in groups with friends, co-workers, and teammates. If you are not a heavy workout fan, you can join dance fitness classes to keep your body fit with fun.
In these challenging times, the most important thing we can do is to stay positive. We all need to come together to solve the problems we are facing on a day to day basis from the past few weeks. The world is not going to be the same after we come winning out of this pandemic. We should all prepare to be able to embrace new normalcy, which is lesser social interactions, more work from home adoption by companies, and more healthy lifestyles and habits.
Utilizing different tools not only increases productivity but also contributes to the personal growth of everyone on the team, thus increasing their efficiency. More efficient people will prove themselves to be an asset for your organization.
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How can you maximize productivity when working from home?
To maximize productivity when working from home, you need to first make a layout of what your day at work should look like before you start working. Prioritizing tasks can help in scheduling them effectively. Create separate to-do lists for both professional and household tasks. Don’t forget to take breaks between time intervals. Utilize work from home tools to keep track of your productivity.
How do you keep focused when working from home?
Maintaining focus while working from home requires self-discipline. Taking breaks after every 3 hours can keep you motivated to work and more focused. To keep distractions at a minimum, set your personal hours separate from working hours. Keep a separate working space, where you don’t allow anything else happening, not even eating. While working from don’t multi-task. That’s the easiest way to get distracted.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of working from home?
The huge advantage in the current scenario that we are safer at home and the world is a safer place that way. Apart from that, working from is more flexible and comfortable. You can save all those hours you spend stuck in the heavy traffic in your city. And manage your day according to your preference and spend more time with family. However, there are some disadvantages as well. You can easily go from being focused to distracted with the slightest of changes in the home environment. Without self-discipline, you might fall into the procrastination trap. Being confined in your home can affect mental and physical health as well.