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How to make working from home bearable during this crisis

What project management tool to use for working from home:

Working on multiple projects that involve different colleagues who are in charge for separate tasks, it can be hard to stay focus and organised. Working from home can make it even harder to keep everyone organised.

Project management tools track project road maps in real-time through online dashboards. This means that even if you are working remotely, you still know what tasks assigned to you need to get done and what the status is of other tasks in the project

Top project management tools include:

1) ProofHub

ProofHub lets you stay in ultimate control of your projects, remote teams and clients even when you are on the go.

It is a SaaS-based project management software that fits perfectly in every work culture. It solves the four major challenges that every team faces in their projects – Planning, Collaboration, Organization and Delivering them on time. You can plan your projects like a pro using tasks, Gantt charts, calendar, custom roles and more. Features like Group chat, Online discussions, and Proofing tool can help in collaboration within the team as well as with clients over critical matters. With in-built notes, files and quickies and some amazing third-party integrations, you are going to face no problem in keeping your project information organized.

And, there are reports, timer & timesheets and milestones to make sure that teams complete their projects on time. Everything you are ever going to need to manage your team and projects in the best possible manner is available in ProofHub!

2) Trello

Trello is a terrific tool for project management and task management. The visual Kenban board are flexible, shareable, and let you pack a ton of detail into each card. It’s board, lists and card enable you to organise and prioritise your projects in a fun, flexible and rewarding way.

Having a lot of tasks all in one place is essential to getting things done. Unlike traditional to-do apps, with Trello you can collect your tasks into lists while still getting a bird’s eye view of your entire day. That makes it a perfect tool for planning what to do next.

Time tracking isn’t just for people who need to invoice by time spent or fill out timesheets for their boss, it’s one of the best ways to increase your personal and professional productivity. Trello gives you the solution. Connect Trello with RescueTime via Zapier so that every time you drag a card to your Done list, that event will be highlighted in RescueTime.

3) Monday.com

Monday is a work operating system that enables organisations to build custom workflow apps in a code-free environment – to run projects, processes and everyday work. The company serves 100,000 organisation from around 200 vertical markets, including many non-technical organisations. It is also super customisable and can be used for every case all type of projects and processes.

Monday eliminates the need for painfully long email threads and unnecessary meetings. All communication and files are centralized in one place, so you never miss any key information. This also makes it easy to collaborate across locations, structures and teams. Cross-collaboration issues, solved!

4) Workfront

Workfront is a software company that develops web-based work management and projects management software that features enterprise work management, issue tracking, document management time tracking and portfolio management. Their platform automates and repeatable processes and allows users to manage financial information and create reports. It includes tools perfect for document management, workflows, reports, dashboards and approvals.

The platform is used by global enterprises to increase productivity and visibility.

Workfront added an extension that allows for integration with Adobe Creative Cloud.

Work management that aligns teams to achieve results, wherever we work.

5) Asana

Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track and magage their work. Teams can also create projects, assign work to teammates, specify deadlines and communicate about tasks directly within the app. The platform help create a plan that shows you how the pieces of you how the pieces of your project fit together, and help keep work on track as things change.

Asana alows you to integrate with other platform like Gmail, Power BI, Slack, Microsofft office 365, etc, for easier access and faster results.

6) Slack

Slack is a communication tool which specifically facilitates communication in the workplace. Slack also helps teams communicate collaborate across remote distances and it enables the sharing of documents, images and other assets across teams.

As a functional piece of software, it’s clear that Slack perform tasts extremely well.

Best video conferencing software:

1) Zoom meeting

There are free and paid-for tiers to choose from, but even in the free version you can hold either one-on-one meetings, or group meetings involving up to 100 people – however for meetings with three or more participants there is a 40-minute time limit.

There are some nice touches such as desktop and application sharing, whiteboarding and annotations and features which you have to pay for in competing product such as recording meetings in MP4 or M4A format

256-bit TLS encryption ensure. There are plugins available for Microsoft Outlook and Chrome which can be used for scheduling meetings and administrator have a great deal of control over chat meetings and rooms. Zoom meeting can also be used as a basic chat tool, but if you are needs are a little greater such as needing support for more participants there are various well priced packages available.

2) Skype

Skype is very much a household name which will serve as a strong draw from many people. While Microsoft’s video chat tool is often thought of as being little more than a way of keeping in touch with friends and family, the cross-platform app also supports group video calling for up to 50 people

Skype can also be used in a browser which is great for chatting with people without the app installed you can simply invite them to join in using their email address.

As you would hope, there is a screen sharing option, and to make it easier to focus on who you are speaking to, there is ability to automatically blur backgrounds. Other handy features include live subtitling of conversations and the ability to record chats

If you need to have video meetings that involve more people, Skype for business is a paid-of upgrade. For a low monthly per-user fee, you gain support for chats with up to 250 participants, Office integration and stronger security options.

3) Free Conference

FreeConference keeps things beautifully simple for users by not requiring any software to be installed. There are mobile apps available, but it is possible to take part in a video conferencing session from just about any device with a web browser installed. You can participant in text or video chats, and use features such as screen and file sharing but FreeConference is not without its limitations.

The maximum number of conference participants is five, which rules ths out as a tool for many small businesses who may regularly want to host meetings for more people.

A number of international dial-in numbers are available for conference calls, and you have the option of recording calls if you like. Configuring, managing and scheduling meetings is very simple with FreeConference – including from Outlook and there are some nice touches such as being able to set up recurring meetings. It’s a shame that features such as advanced security, video recording and transcriptions are only part of premium packages but the free version Is still pretty powerful

4) Google Hangout

Google‘s range of messaging services never fails to confuse, and even Hangouts is divided into Meet and Chat variants. As Google Hangouts Meet is only available to G Suite customers, it is effectively not free, unlike the basic Google Hangouts service.

Hangouts is a very simple tool that support chatting with up to 150 people, but video calls with only up to 10 participants. There are little in the way of options, but this is about speed and convenience. Hangouts can be used in your browser, and there are apps available for Chrome OS, iOS and Android.

In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, which led to large numbers of people either choosing or being forced to stay at home. Google responded by making it easier for people around the world to world and learn remotely, offering extended Hangouts Meet capability to G Suite and G Suite for Education users for free. Until July 1 2020, Enterprise-level features such as meetings of up to 250 people, recording to Google Drive and more are available for free.

5) Cisco Webex Meetings

With a name like Cisco behind it, expectations for WebEx Meetings are understandably high – and it doesn’t disappoint. While there are various plans available for Webex Meetings, for most circumstances the free version should be just fine. This enables you to hold HD video meetings with up to 100 participants, and to take advantage of options such as screen sharing and private chat rooms.

When you sign up for an account, you are assigned a personal URL that can be used to manage all of your meetings, schedule video conferences, and access the recording you have made.

When it comes to holding a video meeting, you have the choice between using the Webex Meetings app or just sticking with the website, though it could be argued that the desktop apps give a smoother experience. There are also mobile apps available.

The free package includes 1GB of cloud storage, unlimited meetings of unlimited length and the ability to make MP4 recordings of them. Security is catered for by TLS 1.2 and AES 256-bit encryption, and backed by Cisco‘s networking know-how means performance is impressive.

Well-being through lockdown and working from home:

When your office announced that you’d be able to work from home for months on end, and you wouldn’t have to deal with overcrowded trains, buses or even office politics, it may have sounded like a start-of-the-year bonus. The reality though is not so enjoyable. As the country adjust to the life under a lockdown and dealing with the pandemic, one of the biggest changes is enforced working from home

Retaining work and life balance while staying motivated is a challenge.

We gathered some tips to help you thrive under lockdown:

1) Get dressed to work

When you are staying at home, is easy to let yourself go and stay in your pjs for days but getting dressed like you are still going to work play an important psychological factor in staying motivated. It helps your brain to switch to work mode. Also if you are joining a video call, you’d want to look good

2) Keep your normal schedule and structure

Routine and structure are crucial to making the most of the quarantine period. Your sleep is the most important part. Resist the urge to hit the snooze button, oversleeping can dampen your cognitive function just like sleep deprivation can.

Keep your exercise routine but at different times every day andTake advantage of quarantine and cook a healthier lunch.

Try keeping a weekly to-do list rather than a daily one and stick to it.

3) Prioritise your mental health

Most of us are already stressing over Covid-19 and the situation of the country right now but working from home can add up and result to poor mental health. Remote workers are more likely to experience higher stress level due to different factors. Emails being misinterpreted, work bleeds into family life and working more hours.

When you are done with you work, switch off the laptop and do something pleasurable. Take some time off the screen. Switch to exercise, reading, listening to music, get creative.

You can also take advantage of this time and catch up with friends and family on facetime of course! It’s important to stay in touch with people.

4) Create boundaries

You need to physically separate your working space from your living space especially if you have kids at home. Even the shortest distraction can ruin your productivity.

Self-isolate from your phone! Unless it’s part of your work, it’s a big distraction. Social media notifications, text messages and even news alerts can make you lose focus and reduce your productivity.

5) Sit near a window

Being in quarantine, means spending more time indoors under house lighting meaning getting less time with the sun. Besides the health benefits of the sun, for example Vitaming D, natural light during morning and evening has been shown to increase concentration, focus and productivity. It also help you being more calm and work more effective.

6) Effective communication

Excess meetings may have been a bugbear of the pre-pandemic workplace but right now they are essential yet not just for much needed human contact.

Use real-time communication management programs like Skype, Slack and Zoom, when problems arise. This will help prevent any misinterpretation and wasting time on chains of emails. Being more effective can save you a future headache.

7) Work out

Staying at homes, can be a challenge for reaming physically active. That can lead to bad mental and physical health. Exercise can help you remain calm.

You can try following an online exercise class or a YouTube exercise tutorial. Many of these are free and can be found easily. If you have no experience on some exercise be cautious of your own limitations. You can also take a walk even in small spaces. Walking around or on the spot can help with your stress and your physical health. If you decide to go outside for your exercise be sure you maintain social distance. 

8) Fight loneliness

Being home and social distancing can feel lonely, especially if you live alone but that can lead to poor mental and physical health. Interacting with your pets can help with battling loneliness. Try using virtual spaces to meet up and chat up with your friends and family. HouseParty is an app where you can play different game with your friends while at home.

9) Learn something new

Work I likely consuming most of your time during the day but during the lockdown, there is plenty of time to explore something new. Think about what else you can do during this period, to develop a new skill or a new hobby. Lifelong learning is proven to improve happiness as well as cognitive traits like memory. Watching Netflix all day is fun but wouldn’t you prefer feeling accomplished by mastering a new skill?

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