Want to improve your productivity when working at home? Check out these 5 work from home apps!

With the extension of MCO until April 14 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home is the go-to solution for many Malaysian companies. While operating remotely is nothing new for startups and tech companies, many companies and their workforces can find it challenging to adept to this transition. At times like this, work from home apps can be useful!

Personally, I am constantly worried about my boss thinking that I am slacking at home. So I’ve downloaded these apps to help me stay productive while permanently dressed in pyjamas. Oh, did I mention that these apps can allow my boss to track my progress (so I can prove that I’m actually working)? Moving on, here are my top 5 work from home apps!

1) Task Management: Focus To-Do

Work from home apps (Mobhouse productions)
Focus To-Do is available across all device platforms (Image source: focustodo.cn)

With great freedom, comes great responsibility. Naturally, you will find it hard not to procrastinate when there are so many distractions at home! However, this is a great opportunity to practice habits to help you work smart! With Focus To-Do, which is an all-in-one Pomodoro timer and to-do list, I can track how much time I spend on writing articles and scripts. In case my mind can wander off and I suddenly end up scrolling through my Facebook news feed. Also, I can set an execution time for each task with laser-like focus and try to beat the timer because I am competitive like that. You don’t only get better efficiency but also a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

Key features:

  • Task priorities: Set task priorities for a clearer picture of what needs to be done first
  • Sub task: Split a task into smaller pieces
  • Trend chart: Access a trend chart of all completed tasks and statistics on how much time you spent on each task as well as time distribution and wastage

Focus To-Do is free on all platforms. However you can opt to pay RM38 for a lifetime access to premium features which includes adding unlimited tasks, accessing to a more detailed daily/ weekly/ monthly statistic report, and more.

Focus To-Do is available on Android, IOS, Mac, Windows: https://www.focustodo.cn/#products

Remote Workplace: Slack

Slack is a platform designed for teams and it is the ideal communication tool for remote workers. This app is packed with many features that facilitate communications in the workplace. I use it to communicate with my video editors since we have many stages during the video editing process which can be hard to monitor remotely. With Slack, I can set reminders and to-do lists for my editors. The best part is, they can leave comments which improves team communication.

Key features:

  • Instant messaging: Live communication with every team member
  • Statuses: Set availability statuses to focus on individual tasks as needed
  • Screen sharing: Allows team members to show their work to others in real-time

You can use Slack for free, which allows you to create a single workspace for small teams while paid versions start from RM35/month per active user.

Slack is available on:
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Slack&hl=en
IOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/slack/id618783545
Windows: https://slack.com/intl/en-my/downloads/windows
Mac: https://slack.com/intl/en-my/downloads/mac

Remote Conferencing Tool: Zoom

Ever since the announcement of MCO, it looks like Zoom is suddenly everywhere! Zoom is a video conferencing and communication tools for small to large scale businesses. I really enjoy using Zoom compared to Google Hangouts (which I often use back then during my corporate days) because of its consistent call quality and user interface. Group video meetings and voice calls are made easy with Zoom. But beyond being a productivity tool, Zoom has become a place where friends can organize virtual happy hours and families can keep in touch with each other during the extended MCO.

Key features:

  • Recording: Record meetings effortlessly
  • Webinars: Host webinars
  • File sharing: Share files during and outside of video/ voice chats
  • Beauty filter: Built-in beautification filter (because it doesn’t hurt to look good in front of your friends or boss)
  • Virtual backgrounds: Swap out your background for the top of Burj Khalifa, the interview area from “The Office”, and more

The free version of Zoom is enough for up to 100 pax. However, each call can only last up to 40 minutes. For bigger teams and calls that last longer than 40 minutes, you can opt for the paid version which only the host will need to pay on a monthly basis. Paid version starts from RM66 per month.

Zoom is available on Android, IOS, Mac and Windows: https://zoom.us/download

Intelligent mail: Spark

Ever since the announcement of MCO, I have been receiving many emails from online retailers encouraging me to spend. Believe it or not, emails are productivity killers because of how they can interrupt our workflow! Luckily, there are ways to tame email interruptions and turn your inbox into an asset instead of a hindrance.

Spark is an intelligent email client that automatically collects and categorises your emails from every account. I have 2 personal email accounts and 3 work accounts which can be hard to manage. But with Spark, I can sort the emails according to importance level and filter out the ones with low importance or snooze them until later.

This app is also packed with a bunch of collaboration tools, allowing team members to work from the same email. So if I need my salesperson to review a quotation I prepared, he can easily review it on the same email remotely and edit it in real-time. This means that everyone who needs to provide information on an email can do so themselves with 100% accuracy – no delays and no misunderstandings!

Key features:

  • Smart inbox: Clean up your inbox, find any email via “Smart Search”, and snooze emails that don’t need your immediate attention
  • Smart notifications: Receive notifications for emails of high importance
  • Assign emails: Assign emails to team members so that the right person is managing the right tasks
  • Team email: Private team comments, shared drafts, template replies, and instant chat for collaborative teams

The free version of Spark will be more than enough for individual remote workers and for very small teams as well. Paid versions start from RM28/ month per user, bringing increasingly advanced collaboration features.

Spark is available on:
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.readdle.spark&hl=en
IOS: https://apps.apple.com/app/apple-store/id1176895641

Live collaboration tool: Chrome Remote Desktop

Work from home apps (Mobhouse productions)
Access and control your computer from any devices anywhere, anytime (Image source: Google)

It can be difficult to edit videos without my supervisor’s guidance. To render a video file to be sent over to my supervisor to check is a back-and-forth process that is definitely too damn time consuming! With Chrome Remote Desktop, I can invite my supervisor to access my computer securely from any devices anywhere anytime without worrying about security risks. All I have to do is provide him an access URL which he needs to key into a web browser to access my computer and help me with video editing.

Key features:

  • Remote Access: Access your computer anywhere anytime from your mobile, tablet, or another computer
  • Remote Support: Allow team members to access your computer from their location to provide support/ collaboration
  • Screen share: You can also use the Remote Support feature to share your screen with team members for greater collaboration/ team projects

However, you can also use these features in reverse to access your teammates’ computers. Or you can simply use the feature to screen share, allowing everyone to see the same screen and collaborate more effectively.

Chrome Remote Desktop is available as browser extension, on Android and IOS: https://remotedesktop.google.com

I hope you like my recommendation of work from home apps. Got any favourite work from home apps that are not on the list? Let us know in the comments below!