Tech companies all over the world are allowing their employees to stay and work from home during the Coronavirus outbreak. In this post, I'm going to share with you my list of the most useful apps, tools, and technology to help you stay on top of your productivity during this time.
Covid-19 is changing the way we live our day-to-day lives. It's affecting almost everyone in the world today, and not for the short-term, we're in this for the long-haul.
We have to be smart and pragmatic during this time of Crisis. This will be the ultimate test of our collective efforts, patience, and resilience.
In the last post, I shared with you some productivity tips for working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak. If you missed that post, you can check it out here.
Not everyone will be able to have the luxury of working from home. We mustn't forget to honor those who have to be out in the front line. Our doctors and nurses working so hard. Our food producers and distributors. Our public service workers ensuring we continue to have amenities, clean water, electricity, and the internet.
But, for the rest of us, regardless of our circumstances. Whether you work for a tech company, startup, or in administration. Or even if you work as a freelancer in a busy office environment, one thing you might be asking yourself is -
"What do I need to work from home and stay productive during the Coronovirus outbreak?
Chances are, if you already spend some of your time working from home, then you may have equipment and tools to use.
But if you normally work in an office environment away from home, and you've been advised to now work from home, you're going to need to make sure you have everything you need to stay productive.
In other words, you need to have the right tools and equipment set up in your home.
Now, who pays for this new equipment is another topic altogether. You might already have equipment at work that you can take home with you. That's what my wife has had to do recently herself, although we now share my home office.
If, however, you are going to pay for any new equipment yourself, then you will probably want to do it on a budget. If not, then this is where it can get a little fuzzy for a lot of employees expected to work from home using their own equipment.
Let me give you an example -
If you're a graphic designer, you may need to invest in an iPad Pro, if that's the tool you usually work with. But these can be quite expensive especially if you're using your own money to purchase one.
An affordable alternative would be something like the XP-PEN Artist12 Pro tablet, which has an 11.6-inch screen and comes with a stylus. You can check out the latest price of these on Amazon here.
OK, enough with the examples. Let's look at some of the most essential productivity tools to use when working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak. Remember, you won't need to go out and get all these, just grab the ones you need.
In the last post, I covered the importance of designating your work area when working from home. This can mean using a spare bedroom, or using the corner of your living room, converting an attic room, or even using your garage. Whatever you choose to do, set your desk with all the essentials you'll need.
If you're going to be sitting down for long hours working at home, consider investing in a sit/stand desk like this one. And maybe also an ergonomic swivel chair like the ProGrid adjustable FreeFlex by Office Star.
When it comes to laptops for work, I imagine that you have that taken care of. If you don't, then there'a few great makes and models that you might want to consider.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S540 is a great all-around productivity laptop. It comes with an Intel Core i5 10th gen chipset, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. With a compact weight of only 2.7KG, the S540 is perfect for your home office.
Another laptop worth checking out is the HP Pavillion X360 touch screen. It t comes with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, Windows 10, and 256GB SSD.
During self-isolation and when working from home, you won't be able to converse with work colleagues face-to-face as much. So, are companies solving this problem?
Well, more people are making use of video streaming technology. What you'll need to have is a reliable webcam to make video calls and have your virtual online meetings and conference calls.
I use and recommend the Logitech C920 HD for this. This is a USB powered web camera and one that I've used myself since around 2014. It's quick and easy to set up and perfect for making FaceTime and Skype calls. The audio quality isn't the best, but it's good enough for what you'll need it for.
Using your home computer and personal internet for work is not always an ideal solution. Unless, of course, you run your entire business from home using your own internet. Either way, you need to ensure you have high-speed internet, and adequate online security measures in place.
First and foremost, I recommend using a reliable internet security software such as Norton 360 Premium. This is the one I use myself and have done so since 2015.
Why is internet security so important?
Whether you work from home or not, you don't want any sensitive information on your computer to fall into the hands of unknown users or hackers. Spyware can be a problem, as so can viruses and Malware. A good internet security software will help to immensely protect your computer.
Additionally, I would recommend you take out a VPN plan (Virtual Private Network) to protect your internet privacy. I use and recommend NordVPN for this. They provide affordable solutions that will help protect your IP and data online.
There are many apps and tools to help improve productivity when working from home. I've used literally hundreds of them myself over the years.
There are a few standout apps that I would like to recommend, however, it all depends on the kind of work you will be doing at home.
For example, for client collaboration, I use and recommend Slack. For the most part, you can find everything you need using the free version of this app. Slack allows you to create channels for each of your goals or objectives. You can collect and share information and resources with your team, as well as collaborate with other users.
For communication and online meetings, I use and recommend Skype or Zoom. Both these are free and offer premium options for business use. You might also find FaceTime useful.
For marketing automation and scheduling, I use and recommend CoSchedule. CoSchedule is perfect for both individuals and teams working predominantly online and remotely. However, MissingLettr is also a fantastic app if you're looking for a social media marketing automation and management app.
For team project management and client collaboration, I use and recommend Monday.com.
Now, I would say that Monday.com is best suited for those having to take projects to work remotely. It is perfect for social media managers, project managers, marketing teams, as well as freelancers.
When it comes to staying focused and time management, I use and recommend the Focus Keeper App. I know I've already mentioned this app several times before, but folks it's super useful. It's available for both iOS and Android devices.
With the Focus Keeper app, you can customize the settings and set your own duration for timing your productivity time and break time.
You're not going to need all the tools and equipment mentioned above for remote work. So, don't go mad and go waste your time and money on the things you don't actually need.
That said, I think it's safe to assume that we're all going to have to change the way we work during this time. We're going to be taking on a whole new meaning to the term 'working from home' and 'remote work'. These are activities that many of us will have to get used to for the foreseeable future.
I want to end this post by saying take care of yourself, stay safe, stay focused, stay positive, and we'll get through to the other side soon.