This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Jessica Bullet.
If you still think of working from home as merely a desirable perk, you’re in the minority. Up to 74% of respondents in the annual Gallup survey (2020 State of American Workplace) believe that working from home and general remote work is the “new normal.”
Working from home and coworking will require you to stay organized, efficient, and able to balance your professional and personal life. All this could have been complex, but technology has made everything simpler — as long as you have the right tech and collaboration tools with you and are backed with sufficient knowledge about basic PC tips and tricks.
Here, we list the 10 best apps for people working from home and coworking. All of them are considered useful in your organization and team collaboration.
Remote working tools and coworking apps come either as free versions, paid plans, or both. The tools outlined here are free, and even the paid ones come with a free or trial version or offer reasonably-priced options.
Each of these tools listed here fulfills a different role to improve productivity, workflow, coworking capabilities, and efficiency while working from home. You don’t have to use all of them at the same time.
In addition to these apps, ensure you always use Anti-Malware or a VPN to guard your device against malware attacks.
1. Chrome Remote Desktop
This is available for the iOS and Android platforms. It also comes as a Chrome extension.
With Chrome Remote Desktop, you can access your computer securely from any device (phone, PC, tablet, or another computer) and share your screen with your teammates. This is the epitome of remote work because you can access your device anywhere, anytime, without worrying about security risks.
The key features of Chrome Remote Desktop are:
- Remote access
- Remote support
- Screen share
This app is compatible with iOS, Windows, and Android.
Trello helps you to organize everything and gives you a leg up when it comes to flexibility. At its core functionality, Trello is a series of work-boards. Each offers a collection of card-filled columns with every card representing tasks – such as an item, an image, an attachment, or a checklist of multiple items.
You can organize your activities and tasks in order of their priority, mark them as “Now,” “Later,” or “Soon” to give you a good schedule.
Trello is a free app with an optional $5-a-month paid plan or a $45-a-year Gold premium upgrade that’ll give you access to more features.
Calendar is an app that supports Android, Windows, and iOS devices. It also runs as a web app.
You may have used Google Calendar, but it doesn’t provide some advanced features that remote workers need. Calendar is a feature-rich alternative app that connects your schedules and calendars into a single interface. Its key features include:
- Calendar integration with other calendars (Google Calendar, Outlook)
- Synced events of all your calendar activities
- Automatic Meeting transcriptions: transcripts of your meetings
- Easy scheduling
- Analytics to help boost your work productivity
Available on Mac, Serene is a free Mac productivity app that can help you achieve maximum productivity. It will help you cut out all distractions and stay focused on completing tasks faster.
Serene works with two key principles backed by scientific studies. First, you need to set a single daily goal and focus your day on achieving that goal.
Second, you do not need distractions while working, so Serene blocks access to distracting apps and websites during work sessions and silences your phone. The key features of Serene include:
- App blocker
- Website blocker
- Distraction-free sessions
- Work session timer
- Day planner
- To-do list
- Phone silencer
- Background focus-music
Should you encounter any issue with Serene on your Mac, just search and follow basic Mac troubleshooting guides.
Available on Windows, iOS, Mac, Android & web app, Slack is the best team communication and collaboration tool for remote teams. The key features of Slack include:
- Instant messaging: for seamless collaboration
- Statuses: often, users can set availability statuses to notify other team members of their availability
- File sharing: Slack offers Drag-and-drop file-sharing for documents, PDFs, videos, links, images, and other common types of files
- Voice & video calls
- Screen sharing for stronger collaboration
Instant messaging on Slack is organized into channels which team members can join and leave as need be so that no one receives notifications or messages irrelevant to them. Additionally, team members can chat outside of main collaboration topics in separate threads. This is to prevent these messages (work or social) from interfering with project-centric conversations.
Slack is free to use, but there are paid versions that start from $5.25/month for every active user. Ideally, your company will pay for a team version of the Slack workspace.
6. Google Drive
Available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and web, Google Drive is the best free document creation, collaboration, cloud storage, and file-sharing tool. You only need to have a Google (or Gmail) or a G-Suite account or the company may provide you with one. It has the best file sharing and collaboration features that allow co-authoring and improved collaboration.
Key features include:
- Document sharing: Share Word files, spreadsheets, images, videos, presentations, and all essential documents
- Cloud storage: Create, upload, collaborate, and share documents and files
- Collaboration: Google Drive offers real-time collaboration without any lag which makes it the best collaboration app
For individuals, Google Drive’s free version should be more than enough with up to 15GB storage. If you need larger cloud storage, you can opt for G-Suite, which is often for business use.
Available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, & web, Zoom beats the likes of Skype, Teams, or UberConference when it comes to a webinar, video, and voice calls for teams, groups, or one-to-one call features. Zoom now offers a full productivity suite of video and audio conferencing and communication tools for individuals and businesses. Key features include:
- Voice calls for group or one-to-one voice calls
- Video meetings: teams and one-to-one video calls
- Webinars (free plan offers up to 100 participants)
- File sharing: during, and outside of video/voice chats for effective collaboration.
- Host controls
Zoom offers a unique feature raising your hand to speak during a voice or video call.
Toggle works on Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Web, Chrome, & Firefox.
When working from home, you need to track how long it takes you to complete tasks – Toggl is your guy. Toggl is a time tracking tool to help you understand how much time you take to carry out a task. Key features include:
- Time tracking: How much time you (or your team) takes to complete a task
- Boost profits (for freelancers): Check if you’re charging enough for the task based on the time it takes
- Reports: Toggl generates reports on your task completion time and productivity to help you improve your workflow.
With Toggl, you’ll be able to know the tasks that consume more time so that you can improve your project planning and scheduling.
Toggle has a team and business plan that starts from $18/month for every user.
Working from home entails a lot of emails. You’ll need to be smart in working with your email to ensure that nothing goes unsent, and none stays unanswered. Spark is a smart email client that turns your email inbox into an asset to make you more productive.
- Smart notifications: Only receive important email notifications
- Smart inbox: Clean up your email inbox “Smart Search” and snooze emails, which don’t need your immediate attention
- Assign emails: to team members
- Team email: shared drafts, private team comments, and template replies for collaborative teams
- Schedule email activities and get reminders to follow up important emails
- Co-authoring: allows team members to co-author an email remotely, in real-time
Spark has a free version that should be enough for individuals and small teams. Paid plans start from $6.39/month for every user, with increased features.
This has an Android, iOS, and web version.
Working from an office or coworking space gives you no choice but to fully concentrate. However, at home things can be different. You may sometimes slack off while working at home or remotely. This is where Noisili comes in.
Noisili, a concentration and productivity app (and web) produces ambient background sounds that mask annoying noises to help you focus and boost your productivity. The app asks you if you want to relax or to increase your productivity.
The app can help you in concentration and improve your productivity while working from home or help you relax after a long day’s work.
It all comes down to efficiency and productivity. When you’re working from home, all benefits settle down to maximizing productivity. Once you achieve maximum productivity, everything will fall into place, and you will start to realize the full benefits of working remotely.
We believe that these productivity tools are the best apps for working from home and will help you get more tasks done faster. You’ll also be able to develop healthy working habits and manage your time effectively.
About the Author
Jess is a professional content writer and editor for Software Tested, writing about all sorts of technology topics under the sun. As a computer programmer, she is able to tap into her expertise on computers and gadgets to help others resolve their tech problems.