BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

Last week, global social media giant Twitter, ordered all its 4900 workers to work from home. This has been done in order to help slow the spread of COVID – 19. Other technology giants such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google followed suit with a call for some employees to work from home.

As the disease spreads to other parts of the world including South Africa, the business world will have to consider ordering its employees to work from home.

Fortunately, there are technology companies that have developed tools that allow working from home to be a possibility for some employees. Here are the top tools, by some of the most leading tech companies, that will still enable productivity for your business:

Google’s G Suite is a business subscription version of Google Drive that includes popular productivity software like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. The tools enable collaboration between employees to work on the same document whilst sitting in different locations. Google Hangout makes it easy for businesses to conduct meetings via video calls.

The same functionality is now possible via Microsoft Teams that includes popular Office software such as Word and Excel. Microsoft’s service also offers remote access, teleconferencing and live document collaboration. Microsoft Teams, the new name for business Skype subscriptions. The company is offering an upgrade to businesses and other partners with employees working remotely.

Zoom is one of the most popular virtual meeting apps on the web and includes video meetings, chat and screen-sharing features. It also has the added bonus of split-screen video conferencing so you can see everyone at once, much like an in-person meeting. Zoom’s basic package is free and can host up to 100 users, while the Pro package is $15 per month per host and lets you access group meetings in split-screen mode.

Slack is an all-purpose chatting app that helps employees stay in touch with one another, but unlike email, you’re limited to the employee network only. This keeps conversations private, encrypted and secure. Slack offers a free no-frills version good for light usage among small teams. For more storage and features, you can upgrade to the standard version.

A combination of these tools used together will enable your employees to be productive whilst working from home.

These are just examples of the most popular and trusted tools that are used by most companies.  Every other digital tool you have available to facilitate communication can also add value to enable work from home policy possible. Connect over text messaging, email, wikis, hangouts and video conferences. Use group chats as the backchannel during online meetings. Let people use what they are comfortable with to ease discussion. At the same time, it must be noted that there are other successful distributed organisations that do the exact opposite. They choose a minimal set of online tools and are highly prescriptive as to which tool to use for which purpose. Experience by most companies tells us that being flexible has been the most beneficial.