Best apps for working from home and coronavirus self-isolation – Skype, Slack, Zoom, Hangouts, Discord, Trello and more
CORONAVIRUS is forcing thousands of employees to work from home – and there are loads of great apps to make the switch easier.
From productivity to video calling, make sure you (or your business) is ready for what could be many months of home-working.
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Team chat apps
There are loads of great ways to keep your team communicating when you can't physically be near each other.
Perhaps the best-known business app is Slack, which has become enormously popular in the last few years.
It's free to use (although premium versions are available), and has a really slick interface.
You can set up channels for different purposes, chat or call, and send GIFs to co-workers too – to recreate at least some of the office's joy.
Longstanding Microsoft app Skype has always been a favourite for chatting to distant family members.
But it's a great home-working tool too, offering chats (and group chats), video calling and the ability to send files.
Many small businesses will be able to get away with just using Skype – but paying for Skype for Business is also an option.
That will raise the call limit from 25 people to 250, and integrates with Office 365 (including contacts and calendars).
Popular chat app Zoom is best-known for offering video calls – including with huge numbers of people.
There's a free tier with unlimited meetings, but these group chats are capped at 40 minutes.
The most expensive tier gets you meetings with up to 1,000 participants, but there are cheaper options.
Perhaps the only downside is that Zoom has had privacy issues in the past, which may put some businesses off.
Google's tried-and-tested Hangouts service integrates directly with Gmail.
That means it's a really handy way for businesses who use Google's G-Suite apps to communicate.
You can do voice and video calls, chat directly with other team members – and create group chats too.
It's possible to send images and videos through Hangouts, and it's completely free to use.
Facebook offers a free tool called Workplace that companies can use to stay in touch.
This gets you photo and video calls, plus file storage and transfer.
But there's a premium version that will let you link Workplace up with other business tools.
Everyone is familiar with the general Facebook interface, so it's easy to get to grips with Workplace.
But Facebook has, historically, been troubled by major privacy issues – so some businesses might be put off by that.
Microsoft's Teams is a tool for businesses to stay in touch – just like Slack.
You can create virtual conference rooms, record meetings, and chat with co-workers.
And the app is currently available for six months for free.
Ironically, Microsoft Teams had a major outage on the morning of Monday, March 16 at thousands of workers logged on across Europe.
Already beloved by gamers, Discord also makes for an excellent tool for businesses unhappy with other options.
It works in a similar way to Slack, allowing you to create different channels for different purposes.
And you can still chat and make voice calls to keep in touch with co-workers.
Productivity boosters and handy tools
It's hardly a secret, but it's worth remembering that Google Drive is an incredibly powerful home-working tool.
Multiple people can work on the same documents and sheets at once – and even see revisions made.
It's also possible to suggest changes to documents, which is really handy for bosses.
And it's easy to share massive files quickly between team members.
Google Drive is also linked up to other services – like Gmail – so it's a cracking tool for anyone using G-Suite services.
Few tools will keep your work life as organised as Trello does.
It lets you organise all of your projects and to-do lists in a single place.
And you can also share these lists with other people. For instance, you might want your boss to have oversight of your progress with projects.
It's free to use, and is hugely popular with busy workers.
In other news, Instagram has banned dangerous coronavirus filters.
Criminals are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak by sending scam emails claiming to be from the WHO.
And, we debunked some of the most outrageous coronavirus conspiracy theories.
Do you have any genius tips, tricks or advice for working from home that you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments!
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