8 Free Tools That Aid Remote Business Transition

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The coronavirus pandemic has altered the global economy in many ways. Most companies and organizations have already taken their operations remote. This sudden transition is proving to be challenging, especially for many small and medium businesses.

However, with the right tools, you can help run things smoothly for the employees working from home. In fact, you will need to get various tools that can be leveraged to keep productivity consistent and employee morale high. This means you will need to set aside a budget to invest in multiple tools. Unfortunately, not many businesses have the required financial resources.

But the good news is that there are free-to-use tools and tools with a free tier, making them affordable for small and medium businesses with little or no budget. Whether it is a remote business in Denver, Colorado or anywhere else in the world, you should consider these free-to-use tools.

1. Microsoft Teams

One of the primary requirements of remote work is the ability to seamlessly communicate with other team members via instant messaging and audio-video conferencing. That’s why you need a comprehensive communication and collaboration platform like Microsoft Teams. It allows you to chat, do video meetings, store and share files, and integrate applications.

If your business has Office 365 license, you will be able to access Microsoft Teams at no additional cost. Recently, however, Microsoft announced that it has made Teams available to everyone through a free Office 365 E1 offer for six months. This is a special offer to help businesses remain productive during the current pandemic.

2.  G-Suite

G-Suite consists of a variety of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration tools for businesses. You can perform all business-critical functions such as video meetings, emails, file sharing, and calendar sharing, among others. It is flexible, scalable, and comes with 24/7 customer support. 

Just like Microsoft, Google has also rolled out some of the premium features of G-Suite for free in response to the increased work-from-home demand due to COVID-19. Educational institutes and remote businesses in Denver, Colorado, and across the world can get free access to advanced Google Meet video-conferencing capabilities till September 30, 2020.

With these free features, you can hold online meetings for up to 250 participants, stream live videos for up to 100K viewers, and save your recorded meetings to Google Drive. The tech giant is also working on improving its other products and services to help businesses in this unprecedented situation.

3. Basecamp

Basecamp is a real-time project management tool. It allows you to keep track of your project’s progress and share feedback with your teammates. You can discuss your work through message boards. Other features include, creating and sharing to-do lists, sharing and storing files, real-time group chatting, and automated check-in questions.

You can also integrate several third-party apps like Clockify, Zapier, TestLodge, and Ganttify, among others. If you want to use this tool without spending a penny, you can try 100% free Basecamp Personal plan. You can create up to three separate projects with this plan. If you cross your project limit, you can upgrade to a paid version or delete an old project to continue using the free plan.  

4. Google Drive

Google Drive is a cloud storage and file sharing platform. You can use your Google account credentials to access Google Drive. The personal plan offers 15GB of free cloud storage.

However, this storage is split between your Photos, Drive, and Email (Gmail). So, you may have to back up some of your personal photos to a hard drive to free up some space for your work use. You can use a variety of other free Google apps like Sheets, Docs, Slides, Forms, and Drawings and share these files on the Drive.

5. HubSpot Meetings

Meetings are an important part of remote work. However, with several meetings scheduled every day, keeping track of your workweek becomes difficult. That’s where a tool like HubSpot Meetings comes in.

With this meeting scheduling tool, you can eliminate the need to send emails back and forth to set your meetings. You can sync Meetings with your Google and Outlook (Office 365) calendars. Thus, you can check your availability and schedule upcoming meetings accordingly.

You can also send meeting links by email or embed them in websites. It allows you to send meeting reminders, share group meeting links, and add details like contact information, time, and photos for each meeting. You can start using the app for free.

6. Dropbox Basic

With this file sharing platform, you can create, store, and share files created using Microsoft Office, Google apps like Sheets, Docs, and Slides, and Dropbox Paper. You can get 2GB of storage with the Dropbox Basic plan, which is free. Although free, it is a secure platform.

You can access your files from anywhere, be it a browser or an Android device or an iPad. You can also recover any files that you accidently deleted within the last 30 days. As it comes with version history, you can roll any of your files back to the previous version.

7. GanttProject

GanttProject is a free project scheduling and management tool for Windows, macOS X, and Linux. It is most suitable for the construction, media, IT companies, accounting, and engineering industries. It comes with Gantt chart, resource load chart, and PERT chart, among other features.

You can create and organize tasks and project milestones with start date, deadline, and priorities. You can also set dependency constraints such, as “when Team A finishes the work Team B can start the next step.” You can also break down your work structure into different segments in the form of a hierarchical tree. 

8. Clockify

Another critical aspect for running a remote business is keeping track of work hours across projects. Clockify is one of the best time tracking tools for teams and projects, and it is 100% free. You can add as many users and projects you want for as long as you want.

This simple time tracker and time sheet-based tool allows you to track productivity, attendance, and billable hours. Thus, you get a more accurate idea of your workweek, making it easier for you to improve your productivity. You will also be able to show your clients how much time you have spent on a project.

Conclusion

With the coronavirus pandemic showing no sign of slowing down, remote work is going to be the new normal for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, these eight free-to-use tools can help you keep your productivity and flexibility high during these trying times. Of course, you will need to learn to use these tools. If you need more information on using these tools or improving your remote work productivity, feel free to contact us. We will help you transition into a remote workplace with ease.

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