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Working from home in times of coronavirus? These tools can come in handy!

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The coronavirus, which that has now spread to 110 countries, including India, killed at least 4,200 and infected 115,800 people, has left no one untouched. Lock downs, extended school and college breaks, travel restrictions, working from home are the basic orders of the day.

Several companies are encouraging people to work from home to contain the spread of the virus, which originated in China’s Wuhan late last year. While work from home is nothing new, for many it might be a new and a daunting experience, especially when it comes to collaborating with colleagues, meeting clients or even staying in touch with teams. 

Here are some tools that will help you working from home more efficiently:

Meetings and collaboration:

Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, and Apple FaceTime are great options to hold meetings remotely.

A few days ago, Google announced that it will offer free access to the “advanced” features for Hangouts Meet to all its G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally till July 1. Microsoft, too, is making changes to two of its offerings to help teams work remotely. To begin with, the software giant has started a free six-month trial for a premium tier of Microsoft Teams, which includes features like workplace chat, video meetings and file storage. It also plans to open up free versions of Teams by removing the size restriction. 

Zoho, which has a range of apps like text, spreadsheet and presentation tools along with a slew of customer-relation management and project management tools, is making its Zoho Remotely product lineup free till July 1.

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Cisco is also offering its online conferencing and presentation tool, Webex, on a free 90-day licence to new customers in the countries where it is available.

For collaborating with teams via text, Slack is also a good option.

Connecting remotely while working from home:

You may also need to connect or work on a system at a different location and this is where remote desktop apps come into play. 

TeamViewer is a multi-platform remote desktop app that works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS systems. The app is free for personal use. It not only allows a user to remotely access another computer but also share the screen with others for virtual meetings or presentations.

Google has a similar service called Chrome Remote Desktop that allows users to securely access a computer from phone, tablet or another computer.

Microsoft’s Remote Desktop clients and Apple’s Remote Desktop app for OSX have similar features.

Document sharing:

For collaborating on documents, spreadsheets or presentations, Google’s apps, including Docs, Sheets and Slides, and Microsoft’s Office 365 online suite are known options. 

Here are some alternatives:

Thinkfree Office Online consists of a word processor, spreadsheet editor and an app to create slideshows and presentations. It is a good choice for those looking for a document editor that is as easy as Google’s office suite but with advanced features.

Onlyoffice Personal is another online office suite that has a similar offering and is also compatible with Microsoft Office document formats. The service is free for personal use.

Zoho also offers a slew of apps, including Writer, Sheet and Show. These are being offered for free as part of its Remotely platform.

Scanning documents:

Sharing offline documents or notes can be a bit cumbersome when working from home but there several mobile scanning apps that can do the job.

 Microsoft’s Office LensCam Scanner and Adobe’s Scan app are three such handy apps that can scan and generate a pdf file from a mobile phone, capture an idea from a whiteboard or extract texts from images for editing and sharing.

 Staying connected:

 To use most of these tools, a stable and fast internet connection is a must. 

While a wired internet connection is the best option, if you don’t have one, don’t fret. 

Mobile hotspots are your next best friends. You can use your Android or iOS devices as internet hotspots to get on to the internet. You can also purchase a portable mobile hotspot such as JioFi or Airtel mobile WiFi devices from telecom operators. Third-party mobile hotspot devices are also available. 

If security matters, a VPN connection is also a good choice.

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Staying focused:

Working from home can be a bit distracting for those not used to it. If you are on a tight deadline, consider blocking your phone notifications by enabling Android’s Focus Mode the Do Not Disturb mode on your iOS device will also cut the distraction.  

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