Best tools for working from home

The impact of coronavirus is being felt across the UK, and the government has advised all businesses to work from home where possible. But when it comes to remote working, what are the best tools to help you continue as normal during a time of great disruption? We take a look at some of the best solutions to keep your business working smoothly.

Google vs Microsoft

As you might expect, Google and Microsoft have a wealth of tools that cover the majority of your core remote working needs. Google tools integrate well with other Google products, and the same for Microsoft, so generally speaking it’s best to go with one provider or the other. Here’s what they offer:

Google

Google Hangouts Chat — For instant messaging

For users of the G Suite platform, Google Hangouts Chat is a good contender for workplace communication. Built natively into Gmail, your staff can send private or group messages to each other, enabling departments and teams to stay in constant contact.

Google Hangouts Meet — For video conferencing

Google Hangouts Meet expands the features of Google Hangouts Chat to enable voice and video calling between multiple participants. Screen-sharing and recording are also both available, and links can be directly created in calendar invites.

G Suite — For document creation and editing

G Suite makes document collaboration easier than ever before. It takes the classic tools you expect from Microsoft Office such as word docs, spreadsheets and presentation decks, and hosts them on the cloud. Changes are saved automatically, you can share and collaborate instantly, and it’s intuitive interface makes it a breeze to use. It doesn’t have all the features of Office, so if you need serious spreadsheet capabilities you’ll still need Excel, but for most functionality it has you well covered.

Google Drive — For cloud storage

Google Drive lets you easily store all your important data in the cloud and share it with team members. The full package of G Suite with Gmail business email accounts and unlimited Drive space is just £8.28 per user per month, or you can swap down to 30GB Drive space for just £4.14 per user per month.

Microsoft

Microsoft Teams — For instant messaging and video conferencing

Completely integrated with Office 365 and OneDrive, Microsoft Team allows your team to instantly message each other, or use voice or video calling. You can even hold online meetings with anyone that’s part of your Office 365 plan. Features include screen-sharing and the ability to record meetings, and  there’s even a facility for meeting note-taking.

Microsoft Office 365 — For document creation and editing

Office 365 provides users with both offline and online versions of its popular applications, enabling your teams to work collaboratively over the same document.

OneDrive — For cloud storage

OneDrive keeps all your documents safe and secure in the cloud where everyone can access them. You receive 1TB of OneDrive space per Office 365 user. However, unlike Google, Microsoft offers packages for just using OneDrive on its own. £3.80 per user per month will secure you 1TB per user, whereas £7.50 per user per month will get you unlimited cloud storage.

Other top tools

Though Microsoft and Google have monopolised a lot of the great remote working tools, there are a few notable mentions. Here are some of the other tools you can try for workplace communication, cloud storage and video conferencing.

Slack — For instant messaging

Slack is a solid option for workplace communication. You can have specific channels for projects and teams, and upload files relevant to the channel to keep everything in one place. With Google Drive and Dropbox integration, as well as the ability to place voice and video calls, it’s a fantastic all-rounder for ensuring your teams stay on track during times of disruption.

iCloud — For cloud storage

iCloud probably wouldn’t be the first thing you’d consider for business cloud storage, but it can be a really good contender if your team are all using Apple products (iPhones and Macs). The amount of storage you get is really good value for money — you can acquire 50GB of storage for a mere £0.79 per month or 2TB for £6.99 per month. The only drawback is that all your employees will be required to log into this one, central iCloud account, as there’s no business-specific option available.

Zoom — For video conferencing

Zoom is a video conference calling platform that has rocketed in popularity in recent weeks. Simple to use and with good quality streams, it focuses on doing the basics well. The free option allows up to 100 participants, however imposes a 40 minute limit on group meetings. The small teams package expands the limit to 24 hours but will set you back £11.99 for each user.

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