Many people now work from home (WFH) 100% of the time. Hopefully, if this is the case for you, you will be able to stay productive and stay positive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many of us are used to living the entrepreneurial life from a home office, it is still a great adjustment to have to isolate ourselves and stop all face-to-face interactions with coworkers and clients.
I encourage you to use this time to take a closer look at your overall business goals, focus on your health (both physical and mental) and personal care, and enjoy family time at home.
I think a lot of small business owners are having to change their marketing strategy, and what they do when the coronavirus happens could look quite different than what they did before.
I wanted to share some useful technology tools that can make your daily life of the WFH so much easier.
Team communication tools
This is probably the most important decision you will ever make about a WFH product. Your team needs a reliable and easy-to-use tool that allows them to send instant messages to their co-workers. The one that is right for you depends on your business needs and challenges, team size, and budget.
1. You may have heard of Slack. This tool gives you the ability to create channels around multiple topics and invite users. From marketing content ideas to social media tactics to photos of office dogs, your team can create relevant channels to facilitate chat and collaboration.
It also integrates with many useful tools, including Outlook Calendar, Twitter, HubSpot, and Salesforce, so you can see what’s happening at all times right in the Slack app (no need to click in and out of your daily calendar or Twitter feed, for example). There are also LOTS of fun and creative emojis you can use, making remote messaging at a challenging time like this a little more joyous.
2. Another popular platform is Discord. Popular with gamers, this voice, video, and text tool isn’t just for talking to coworkers, but for finding like-minded communities and new friends. You can create “servers” and “channels” for specific topics, similar to how you do for channels in Slack. While Slack has more business integrations, Discord has voice channels, so you can easily chat with team members. Discord also allows you to set user roles and permissions.
3. Flock is a cloud-based team communication tool with audio and video calls, screen sharing, text chat, integration with other business applications, and more. You can tag colleagues in comments and to-do lists, upload documents, pictures, and videos, and set reminders and due dates. Surveys, sharing code snippets, and group discussions are available, and it integrates with other apps like Trello, Github, Google Drive, and Asana.
Team collaboration tools
Your employees should be able to share their work, whether they are creating a marketing strategy or editing a press release. Here are a few that may suit your small business needs.
1. G Suite is a Google product that is comprised of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration products, software, and tools. In one set of tools, it offers email, word processing, spreadsheets, presentation platforms, shared calendars, cloud storage, and more.
You can comment and make suggestions on specific documents through Google Sheets and Docs, edit documents online simultaneously, and collaborate on projects and documents. It’s easy to give users permissions for specific files.
2. Evernote – This is more than just a note-taking app. Evernote helps you capture, prioritize and share ideas, keep track of projects and to-do lists. I find it very useful for taking notes, obviously, but also as a kind of “digital filing cabinet” that simplifies organization. There is a free basic business package available.
CRM stands for “customer relationship management” and CRM tools help you with things like inbound lead management, sales tracking, social tracking, and email newsletter delivery. Here are three to consider:
1. MailChimp is an all-in-one marketing platform with tools to create everything from emails to postcards. They have a great selection of templates to choose from that can then be modified to suit your brand. Its intuitive interface and comprehensive reports are great, but things can get expensive as your subscriber list or number of emails grows. You can compare their different plans on their website.
2. Constant Contact has always been a great rival to MailChimp to be the brand in email marketing. It’s a great company and a great option if Facebook is a big part of your online marketing strategy. Constant Contact has an email option designed so that users can easily share their newsletter on Facebook.
This option can be considered the most compatible with social networks and has all the main characteristics of the others mentioned. If your online marketing involves Hootsuite (you can integrate this into Hootsuite) and you are concentrating your efforts on gaining traction on social media, this is a great newsletter tool for you.
3. AWeber is an extremely popular option and recommended by many professional marketing companies. It offers you five plans to choose from and a long list of features, such as unlimited email marketing campaigns, follow-ups, lists, and autoresponders.
Many people believe that their Auto Responder platform is superior to other companies, allowing companies to automate the process of delivering personalized emails to customers on a schedule.
Project management tools
A collaborative task management tool allows everyone to track and manage all their projects. Think of it as an online scheduler, task manager, and collaboration tool to manage your team’s workflows.
1. Asana is one of the leading tools and receives a lot of positive feedback. It allows everyone on your team to follow the entire workflow of a project in one simple visual tool. You always know where your team is and who is responsible for what and when.
From daily reminders about a to-do item, to the ability to easily add collaborators or assign teammates a project subtask, Asana makes it simple to see what everyone’s day, week, and month look like (but you can change things easily if plans change).
2. Monday.com is a fairly simple and intuitive visual team management tool (it is actually a project management platform). Execute processes, workflows and projects in a digital workspace. Visually, it looks like a collection of highly personalized spreadsheets, where each team member can record their tasks and update them with status reports and other relevant information.
That means everyone can see all active tasks and track their progress. Team members can work on multiple projects without getting lost using Monday’s weekly overview. The workflow can be customized any way you like to communicate priority, what was done, what was not done, and more. Colorful designs and large buttons don’t hurt either!
Social media management tools
Many small businesses will already have a social media management tool set up. A social media management tool allows you to manage all your accounts from one dashboard, saving you time and frustration. These tools share your content at the best possible times during the day, so your followers and fans will see your updates more often. It’s a smarter and more efficient way to schedule and share your posts on social media.
The best part of these tools is the built-in analytics system, which will give you an idea of what is working well and when your social media posts are having the biggest impact.
Here are two social media management tools that I personally use:
1. Buffer displays your scheduled posts and scans (the depth of those scans depends on the plan you choose). Many small business owners choose Buffer because of its sleek and clean interface that is easy for beginners to understand.
2. I find that while Buffer is great for less demanding social media needs, Hootsuite is where you are if you want to see your timelines, responses, and more across all of your social media.
Both Buffer and Hootsuite offer both free and paid plans, so you can always give them a try and see which one is best for your small business.
And while it’s not a tool that your entire workforce can use, I do like MoneyMinderOnline during these uncertain times. Not only does it give you a place to keep track of your spending, but you also gain insight into your spending habits and can look ahead to improve your cash flow, pay off your debt, and start saving for your big goals.
I hope I’ve given you an overview of some tools that will help boost your team’s productivity and morale while everyone works from home. You can also benefit from our article on how to drive business efficiency on our website.