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5 apps to improve teamwork and productivity in the hybrid office

So, you're spending half of your work week in the office and the other half at home. These apps will help you work seamlessly.

October 30, 2021 / 10:00 AM IST
Microsoft Teams doesn’t have the 45-minute ceiling that Zoom does.

Microsoft Teams doesn’t have the 45-minute ceiling that Zoom does.

As the Covid-19 vaccination drive gains steam, cities are lifting restrictions and public transport systems are slowly limping back to normal. Even Mumbai’s famed backbone – the suburban railway system, now open to fully-vaccinated travellers – has started chugging again. Organisations, too, are opening the doors of their offices, if partially. Several companies, big and small, are inviting employees to return to work in a staggered manner, ushering a new era in our work culture: the hybrid office.

The ability to partially work from home was considered a luxury in the pre-pandemic days. Today, it’s a necessity. And while being productive in a hybrid office can be a challenge, it need not be all that hard.

Also read: Co-working 3.0: Hybrid office model becomes the new normal

Connectivity and access, for example, are crucial to smooth functioning, especially in a hybrid office. These apps will ensure a seamless transition, no matter from where you’re working:

  1. Google Drive/iCloud/OneDrive

An efficient cloud backup service is the cornerstone of the hybrid office. Cloud services are a secure way of storing your data and accessing it from anywhere on the planet. You can, of course, keep it safely in your laptop but you always run the risk of losing it in case your machine crashes or if you leave it at home or in the office when you need it elsewhere.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft offer free storage up to a certain limit, but their paid plans are competitive too. Google One offers 100 GB of storage and access starting at Rs 130/month whereas Apple One iCloud storage of 50 GB costs Rs 195/month. However, the Apple One plan also bundles subscription for Apple TV+, Apple Music, and Apple Arcade, which is great if you are an Apple user.

Also read: Move over Apple, Microsoft now the world's most valuable company

OneDrive’s plans start at Rs 140/month for 100 GB. However, if you don’t mind spending a little extra, the Microsoft 365 Personal is a great deal at Rs 489/month (or Rs 4,899 annually). Besides offering 1TB (1,000 GB) worth of storage, this plan also gives you access to the latest versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Since I prefer Word and Excel over Google Docs and Sheets, this plan works swimmingly as I can access all my documents from anywhere by simply signing into my Microsoft account.

Since I’m also an Apple user, the Apple One plan doesn’t just make it easier to sync photos and videos but also saves the extra cost of subscribing to Apple TV+ and Apple Music, which I used to pay for anyway.

  1. Microsoft Teams

Even though I do use Zoom and Google Meet, neither offers the versatility of Microsoft Teams. Of course, the free version of Teams has a lot less to offer than the paid edition, but even in its basic version, Teams doesn’t have a 45-minute ceiling like Zoom does. But the enterprise version is where the magic happens.

With most Microsoft apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, WhiteBoard, PowerBI, etc. – being integrated into the Teams ecosystem, it doesn’t just make working easier, it also makes collaborating a lot more fun and seamless. You can not only share screens but also give your colleagues the ability to make changes to your document, sheet or presentation while simultaneously being on a Teams call. Just think of Teams as being a grown-up version of Slack. It may not be what your Gen Z colleague would love but it’s pretty darn power-packed.

Read more: In-Depth | Hybrid work model, four-day week: COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we toil

  1. Basecamp/Trello

Both Basecamp and Trello are efficient project management tools that help teams to collaborate better. Both the tools have their loyal followers – I’m Team Basecamp – but what they essentially help you do is track your assignments, teams, and deadlines. While these apps may have been nice-to-have back in the pre-pandemic days, they’ve become central to the functioning of teams that are scattered all over the world.

  1. Chrome Remote Desktop

If you’re using multiple machines – one at work, one at home, a tablet on the go, a phone in your pocket – there’s a good possibility that the one file you need will be in the machine you don’t have access to immediately… cloud storage notwithstanding. It’s human. The best way around it is the Chrome Remote Desktop, a tool that helps you navigate to any device you want. The best part? You can access and control your machine from any device – computer, tablet, phone – that has the Chrome browser.

Also read: Marico introduces hybrid work framework for employees

  1. Kudos

Keeping teams motivated remains one of the biggest challenges of remote working. Kudos is excellent for keeping hybrid teams engaged and motivated. As the name suggests, Kudos is an app that makes it easier to give and receive recognition from your colleagues and seniors. All it takes is a click of a button or a tap of a screen to recognise the efforts of someone siting right next to you or half-way around the world.

Also read: Hello World | How to do many things at once and not burn out

Abhishek Mande is a freelance journalist.
first published: Oct 30, 2021 09:48 am