Fueling Transformation— The Best Work from Home Apps

At the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, business, as usual, came to a halt. In the United States and around the world, offices made the transition to a remote workplace suddenly, using work from home apps to fuel the transformation.

Before the pandemic, an estimated 37 percent of American jobs could, in theory, be done full-time from home, but this was not reality. The total amount of American workers who worked from home at least half the time was only 4 percent.

But now, researchers predict that 40 percent or more of full-time employees in the United States will continue working primarily from home 12-months post-pandemic.

Although this seems to be a welcomed transition, it is not comfortable. There are a lot of growing pains, especially when the change is unexpected. According to a survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, over 70 percent of employers reported difficulties when transitioning to remote work. Additionally, a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers reported an observed dip in productivity for about half of the companies that made the transition.

But with the help of the right work from home apps, your new remote workplace can save you time and money, improving communication, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Work from Home Apps White Paper by The Bauen Group

Work from Home Apps in Fueling Productivity

One of the most reported reasons employers did not transition to a remote workplace before the Covid-19 pandemic is lack of trust. Employers believed their employees would not do their work if they were not at the office. The status quo is to measure productivity by counting the number of people at their desks at 8 AM and who is still there at 8 PM, but productivity cannot be accurately measured by physical presence. Instead, a more accurate measurement is efficiency.

The efficiency gained from not spending hours in traffic, fewer distractions from co-workers, and fewer meetings have had a positive effect on employee productivity. It is this increase in efficiency and effectiveness that might forever change the modern American workplace.

Work from Home Apps and Their Impact

The transformative transition to a remote workplace did not happen without the help of work apps. These “bite-size” pieces of software enable companies to create a collaborative and productive workspace on-demand. We wanted to highlight the features, capabilities, growth, and profitability these work from home applications endured and encouraged during this unprecedented time.

Here are the best work apps for your new remote office:

Zoom

Zoom is a video-conferencing app that has made an appearance in numerous headlines as of late. Zoom is a work from home app that helps businesses and organizations bring their teams together through video, voice, content sharing, and chat rooms across various devices. At the end of April 2020, Zoom reported more than 300 million daily users. This connection platform helped businesses maintain cohesion, collaboration, and communication while bringing together families and friends who could not connect in person during the period of isolation.

Skype for Business

Skype for Business is a fully functional enterprise-grade VoIP communication platform. Its video and voice-conferencing capabilities, combined with instant messaging and screen sharing, is a strong foundation to build your remote office. With Skype, you can increase user productivity potential with Office 365 synchronization, company contact list integration, direct scheduling through Microsoft Outlook, and direct messaging on apps such as PowerPoint and Word.

Slack

Slack is a company that seeks to make work-life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive, which is precisely what businesses are looking for when making the transition to a remote workplace. This collaboration hub brings together people, information, and tools to drive innovation within your company. At the onset of the pandemic fueled work-from-home movement, Slack experienced exponential growth going from 1 million users in 2015 to 12.5 million on March 24, 2020.

Microsoft Teams

With Microsoft Teams, nothing can stop your team. At the end of April 2020, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Microsoft reported 75 million daily active users on Microsoft Teams, adding 31 million in just over a month. The growth was fueled by Teams’ ability to convert an in-person office to an online office readily. Users can chat, meet, call, and collaborate from anywhere. Your team can hold meetings with 10-10,000 people and share files securely. Additionally, a Forrester Total Economic Impact Study on Microsoft Teams reported that companies experienced a return on investment of 832% and a time savings of 1.1 to 8.0 hours per week.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is the well-known communication facet of Google Cloud. It enables businesses to communicate through video, voice, and text messaging. The tools needed for remote workplace transition are already in place for those who operate using G Suite. Plus, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Google allows free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all its G Suite and G Suite for Education customers.

Loom

Loom’s mission is to empower everyone at work to communicate more effectively wherever they are. This mission is incredibly pertinent during a time where effective communication at work is vital. With Loom, your company can create personalized video messages from everyday communication, presentations, projects, or instruction. At the onset of the pandemic, Loom cut prices and removed limits to help teams during the sudden transition to a remote workplace.

Advantages and Disadvantages of an App-Driven, Remote Workplace

According to an estimate from Global Workplace Analytics, 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021, and for a good reason. With the help of work from home apps, there are many advantages to a remote office.

Sustainability— For Humans and the Planet

According to Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, “There is no easier, quicker, and cheaper way to reduce your carbon footprint than by reducing commuter travel.” Sustainability has not been a primary factor in transitioning to remote work, but the impact is glaring. The annual environmental effects of half-time, remote work, for both those who want to work remotely and those with compatible jobs, would have a greenhouse gas impact similar to taking the entire New York state workforce off the road.

An app-driven, remote workplace may not only enhance the health of the planet but also promote the well-being of humans. With no commute, no lunch rush, no long hours away from family and friends, and a sense of control over their schedule, employees can reduce stress considerably. Reduced stress, coupled with limited exposure to sick co-workers, means a healthier and happier workforce.

Flexibility— Work Anywhere, Anytime

With an app-driven, remote office, you and your team can work anytime, anywhere. The newfound flexibility puts you in charge of your schedule, choosing the hours in the day where you can be the most productive, which can complement your personal life. As long as you get the job done and meet established deadlines, a remote office supported by user-friendly work apps can afford employees increased freedom.

Lower Costs

By utilizing work from home apps to create a remote office space, employees and employers alike save copious amounts of money on transportation costs, eating lunch out, and continuously investing in a new business wardrobe. According to Global Workplace Analytics, companies can save over $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. Multiplying that by the 3.7 million employees who currently work from home at least half the time is $40.7 billion in savings. However, much like everything else in life, with advantages come disadvantages.

Blurred Lines— Self-Discipline and Balance

If you are easily distracted and your time management skills are less than optimal, working from home may create a challenge for you. No matter what work from home apps your office uses to help with task management and organization, you may find yourself always playing catch up. This issue is common for some people when working from home for the first time, and it may cause lines between work and life to be crossed all too frequently. The lack of clear separation from the workplace and home space may cause employees to be constantly checking their smartphone, emails, or what is going on in the other room, rather than working on the task at hand.

Decrease in Social Experiences in the Workplace

Many people thoroughly enjoy the social experience of going into the office every day. Chat rooms and video calls are not the same as face-to-face meetings, grabbing lunch with co-workers, and the friendly banter that occurs during daily interactions. The transition to a remote office may cause the job, which was once an enjoyable experience, to become lackluster. It is this isolation that turns some people away from utilizing a remote office.

Vision for the Future

Walter Silin, CEO at The Bauen Group, has a vision. He sees how the global pandemic is a clear illustration of how easily companies can interact with their internal and external clients remotely.

He states, “The current rise in cloud demand is a sign of changing times and a powerful tool to fight against global threats such as the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. People need to stay home, and cloud-powered services are giving them tools to maintain their productivity. It is just the beginning; the whole job landscape and the way companies interact are changing forever.”

Cloud is Sustainability For Humans and the Planet - people talking

Silin also noted that this change is just the beginning, for all industries. “While many people are working remotely for the first time, our company has been entirely remote for nearly three years. We have developed tools for companies in the Food Services, Healthcare, and the Energy sector where they have taken profit and save money with cloud service.”

He concluded, “We have always used Teams as our primary communication tool, and the service did not blink during the increased usage,” as an apparent reference to the increase of demand for Microsoft’s cloud communication platform.

Each of the work from home applications cited above has a collection of unique features and capabilities, making some a better fit for your company than others. No matter which app you adopt for your remote office now or in the future, they all have one thing in common. They all play a vital part in shaping the modern workplace to be agile, versatile, and adaptable, preparing you for what comes next.