The five work-from-home apps you need to transform your small business

Our new work-from-home culture has opened up opportunities for your business. You can look for talent and clients from a broader geographical region. Let your employees create more flexible schedules to fit their work and personal lives. Or offer new services or products that better meet the needs of customers in a changed world. 

Running a business with staff working remotely can also be tough, especially if your team is used to working together in a single location. You can no longer count on a physical workspace to promote collaboration, effective teamwork, and a shared culture. Even a hybrid work model, where employees are in the office some days and at home other days, presents challenges. As you reinvent your business for a new normal, the following five work-from-home tools can help you keep your team connected and productive.

1. Bring teams together with a collaboration platform

When teams with differing skills and backgrounds work well together, they produce higher quality work and drive higher revenue growth. But it’s hard to get everyone on the same page when they’re working from home, even if it’s only part of the time.  

How a collaboration platform can help 

To improve teamwork at your company, start by building a collaborative culture. People are more likely to share and respectfully challenge each other when there is a high degree of trust. At the same time, make it easy for people to connect, get help, and build relationships with a comprehensive collaboration platform.  

A good collaboration platform will support teams working from home by making it easy to: 

  • Get a question answered quickly via chat.
  • Use screen sharing to share progress or demonstrate an idea.
  • Schedule and attend company and team meetings.  
  • Make a call.
  • Use video conferencing.

For many, working from home can be isolating. Help your team stay engaged with good collaboration software.

2. Maintain your unique culture with a video app 

It’s a lot easier to build community in a smaller company. Your team can get to know each other and form friendships. Customers and employees can build relationships with the CEO and other senior managers. They can even influence key decisions. Your one-of-a-kind culture flourishes through connections like these. But how do you maintain that same closeness when people aren’t together in the same office every day? 

How video can help  

People communicate through words, tone of voice, facial expressions, and gestures. Using both verbal and nonverbal cues helps them build trusted relationships. Create more opportunities for your employees and customers to develop these critical relationships from home with a video conferencing solution. 

Video can help you and your team stay in touch with each other and your customers by making it simpler to: 

  • Read the room during meetings.
  • Make remote workers feel included with those in the office.
  • Keep people engaged—it’s harder to multitask when you’re on camera.
  • Put a name with a face.
  • Host a virtual happy hour or book club.
  • Teach a weekly yoga or meditation class.
  • Invite staff to share their personalities through themed get togethers, such as “ugly holiday sweater day” or “fun hat Friday.”

You don’t have to lose the community feel of your workplace with remote or hybrid working. Video is a great work-from-home tool that can help bring your team closer together.

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3. Work together more effectively with filesharing 

Collaboration is about more than meetings and communication. Your team also needs to build solutions together. From your products to your legal contracts to your advertising, your employees need to work together to create quality work. But if you’ve ever passed a file back and forth over email, you know how easy it is to lose track of which version you’re working on or miss an important comment.  

How filesharing can help 

file sharing solution is a type of small business software that lets you store important documents, such as accounting spreadsheets, business presentations, or word processing documents in the cloud. Give access only to authorized people, and no matter where they are, they can work together on the same file at the same time. 

Simplify document collaboration with a file sharing app. You can: 

  • Share files via cloud storage, so everyone has the most up-to-date version. 
  • Provide edits and comments inline. 
  • See in real time who has already edited and commented. 
  • Get notified when someone has edited or commented on your file. 

People report higher job satisfaction when they feel productive. Make it easier to work together with small business software like a filesharing app. 

4. Keep initiatives on track with project management software 

Successfully completing a project often requires that multiple people work together to coordinate handoffs and complete tasks. This can be tough even if everyone works next to each other in the same office. But when your staff works from home or comes into the office on different days, the odds that your project will go off track increase significantly. 

How a project management tool can help 

Project management software can help you and your team figure out how long a project will take and what skills you need to get it done on time. Once an initiative has begun, team members and project managers can check in from anywhere to easily see what’s left to do and when the next task is scheduled to begin.    

cloud-based project management tool can help you stay on top of deadlines and effectively manage resource allocation, no matter where you and your team are working. It also helps you: 

  • Gain visibility into what everyone is working on. 
  • Make smart decisions about who works on which projects. 
  • Quickly determine when you need to hire or outsource to meet your priorities.
  • Keep teams and management informed of key milestones.
  • Help employees prioritize competing tasks. 
  • Know sooner when projects are going off track and course correct as needed.

The right project management tool can make it easier for you and your team to consistently finish high-quality projects that support your broader goals.

5. Improve productivity with a task management app 

There’s nothing simple about running a small business—especially during a pandemic. Your budgets might be tight, and you and your team might wear a lot of hats. It can be nearly impossible to knock out your to-do list in 24 hours—much less

How a task management tool can help 

Task management software may not be able to create more hours in a day, but it can help you get more value out of the resources you do have. With all the interruptions that come with working from home, knowing what to work on when can save you and your employees time.  

An effective task management tool allows everyone to meaningfully contribute to the business by letting you: 

  • Break down and prioritize tasks by day and week. 
  • Provide incremental deadlines that keep employees from getting overwhelmed. 
  • Track progress at the project or group level. 
  • Gain visibility into overall productivity so you can take action with teams that are struggling. 

Get started with small business software

By now, you’ve probably identified how software for small business can help your team work remotely, whether it’s a solution for collaboration, videoconferencing, filesharing, project management, or task management. Choosing apps that work well together or accomplish multiple functions will save you a lot of time and energy. Look for a comprehensive suite of apps that can support remote and hybrid work for your business now—as well as scale with you as you grow. The best platform will help you:

  • Find, edit, and share files more easily across email, video chat, and messaging.
  • Get real-time visibility into business metrics across all apps.
  • Save time by creating meeting notes and assigning follow-up tasks in one place.
  • Never miss conversations or updates with automatic missed-activity notifications.
  • Make employees happier with consistency across all apps and less duplicate data entry.
  • Require less help from IT to implement, configure, and troubleshoot software.

The way we work has changed. Whether you use an office space to bring employees together or not, your team will probably continue to work remotely more frequently than they did in the past. Turn remote and hybrid work into an asset for your business with work-from-home apps and small business software that let people get work done and stay connected. 

Get started with Microsoft 365

It’s the Office you know, plus the tools to help you work better together, so you can get more done—anytime, anywhere.

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation..