The COVID-19 pandemic changed the nature of workplaces for many professionals. Most companies have shifted to remote work arrangements, with their employees based in their own homes.

At first, the freedom and flexibility of a work-from-home setup seemed like privileges. However, people quickly realized that this kind of arrangement also has its share of disadvantages. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work study, team collaboration and distractions at home are among the biggest struggles of working remotely.

Some people find it difficult to be productive when working from home. Chores, domestic responsibilities, and other distractions result in an environment non-conducive for working.

Luckily, there are software and apps that can make your work-from-home arrangement more organized and efficient. These aim to aid your focus, helping increase your productivity and improve your work-life balance.

Download the following apps to optimize your work-from-home setup.

  1. Trello

Trello is a popular project management tool. And the best thing about it is that it’s free. At its core, Trello sorts projects into a series of boards, then groups them according to priority.

Trello follows the Kanban system that gives you an overview of which tasks you still have to do and which are already done.

On each board, you can create “cards” for each task. You can use these cards any way you want: add due dates, to-do lists, progress checklists, labels, or task descriptions. You can also invite other people to the card so that everyone involved in the project is updated on its progress. All the members of the card can add attachments or leave a message for the whole team.

Trello can be customized for personal use, helping you with your tasks within the day, week, and month. But it can also be used to improve collaboration within teams, which has been a challenge for many businesses due to the pandemic.

  1. Toggl

Toggl is a workflow management app, tracking how much time you’re spending on each task. The app was originally designed for freelancers to make sure they were billed correctly for the time they spend on commissions and projects. But now, remote workers can use it to manage their workflow and optimize their productivity.

This time tracking app can also improve your project planning. It tracks how long individual and collective tasks take to complete. This kind of information will help you plan your daily tasks more strategically. You can do the ones that take the most time during your peak productivity hours, for example.

The best thing about Toggl is that it works cross-platform. You can start tracking your hours on your laptop then pause the timer on your phone.

The basic version of Toggl is free, but it has team plans for businesses, available at $18 a month per user.

woman working on her bed

  1. Slack

Slack is a messaging platform, ideal for teams of any size. It has an easy-to-use interface and integrates multiple third-party apps, including Google Drive, Zoom, Salesforce, Asana, and more.

Slack has a workspace where all the contacts are invited. On the workspace, you can create several channels dedicated to different projects or purposes. This way, people won’t receive messages that are irrelevant to them. For example, you can have a channel separate for marketing, sales, IT, and other departments. You can also divide the channels according to your ongoing projects.

Members can also create message threads inside the channels. This way, all the important discussions and details on a specific topic are kept to a single thread.

Slack also allows you to share files, make video and voice calls in-app, and set statuses to let other people know your availability.

  1. Grasshopper Virtual Phone System is a virtual phone system recommended by Small Biz Makeover, a trusted digital marketing agency in New Jersey. The app gives you local or toll-free numbers and calls forwarding, making it easier for customers and partners to reach you.

You get one central number with multiple extensions. This means your employees can take calls for the company using their personal devices, which is necessary when working from home. They’ll be able to see which calls are personal and which are business, helping them maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Grasshopper also lets you participate in conference calls, customize greetings, receive voicemails, and set hold music.

  1. Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop gives you remote desktop access. It comes in handy if you’re working from home and need something from your office desktop. You can access your machine using your personal laptop, tablet, or even smartphone. All you have to do is type in an access URL into your web browser or download the mobile app.

Another function of Chrome Remote Desktop is to link your device with your teammates. You can provide access to your personal device and receive remote support. This feature is helpful for IT departments that need to resolve technical issues. It also makes collaboration easier between teams with its screen share feature.

Of course, different companies have different processes. You have to choose apps that complement your business processes and personal work habits. Otherwise, the software won’t do much good for your productivity and organization.

Ultimately, it comes down to what kind of digital support you need. Take a look at your work-from-home setup to pinpoint your deficiencies then find an app that can fill in those gaps.