A new generation of tech tools helping employees’ ‘work-from-home’ during the COVID-19 pandemic
The outbreak of Novel Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) across the globe has forced majority population to be confined to their homes in order to prevent the spread of pandemic. Workforce globally has largely been affected with the pandemic, and the need of the hour is to better ‘stay home and stay safe’.
Previously reluctant organizations, be it governmental, non-governmental, corporate, social entrepreneurship, or educational institutions have no other options left, but to change their work habits and bring new strategies to workflow management by utilizing, and further unpacking the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Digital tools and applications are being used around the world by individuals and organizations in order to manage their daily workflow and activities. This has increased the use of applications and softwares manifolds, simultaneously the dependency on digital data - ultimately bringing a spike in the internet traffic as well. However, it’s not only about the bright sides of the technology, but the dark sides also come along, and both the organizations and individuals must make informed decisions when comes to making choices vis-a-vis communication and information tools, as this entails privacy of their data being shared between individuals, groups, or organizations.
It is normal practice, especially in less digitally literate societies, the online platforms, applications and softwares’ selection is made only considering of their affordability and efficiency; however, another important aspect, which is the security of the communication and protection of data is disregarded. Security of the tools themselves and the flow of information is most important aspect which should never be overlooked.
Important factors to consider during a tool’s section for an individual or an organizations are as follows:
- User friendliness;
- Accessibility/Openness; and
Keeping in view the various factors, Bytes for All has developed a list of recommended tools and applications to facilitate your ‘work-from-home, and is given below:
Jitsi is a product of the set open-source projects that allows its users to easily build and deploy secure video conferencing solutions. Video calls can be live streamed on YouTube and also recorded (with an alert to everyone). It supports advanced video routing concepts such as bandwidth estimations, scalable video coding and many others. Screen sharing is also possible for remote presentations, etc. It works in rooms and no account is needed to login, thus making it easy to use and access.
Jitsi is free for all users
- Browser: www.meet.jit.si
- Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.jitsi.meet
- Apple iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/jitsi-meet/id1165103905
Signal application allows users to send end-to-end encrypted group, text, picture, and audio and video messages. The application has also encrypted phone conversations between Signal users.
Jitsi is free for all users
- Windows/Mac: https://signal.org/download/
- Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.securesms
- Apple iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/signal-private-messenger/id874139669
Slack offers a single place for messaging and sharing files, helping everyone save time and collaborating together. Group conversation is maintained by the creation of a channel which can be shared with relevant teams to ensure progress. In addition, these channels also keep privacy of your group conversation from different teams.
It also enables you to make voice and video calls. The option of screen sharing is also provided in Slack. File sharing can be done easily on Slack from other platforms, such as Google Drive, Microsoft Office, etc.
There are three pricing structures available on Slack and you can choose according to your need:
- Free (For small teams trying out Slack for an unlimited period of time);
- Standard (For small and medium-sized businesses - $6.67 USD/month);
- Plus (For larger businesses - $12.50 USD/month)
Slack is available on Windows, Android and iOS
- Windows: https://slack.com/intl/en-pk/downloads/windows
- Apple iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/slack/id618783545
- Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Slack&hl=en
Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable its users to organize and prioritize projects in a fun and flexible way. It offers built-in workflow automation to boost productivity by reminding the calendar and due dates forehand. It enables user to integrate the tasks done in other apps they are already using i.e. Google Drive, Maps, Slack, etc. directly into the workflow. Trello stays in synchronizing mode across all of the devices.
- Free (For single user);
- Business Class (For team upto 20 people - $12.99/user/month);
- Enterprise (For 20 and over people - $20.83/user/month*)
*The cost of per user varies with the number of users
- Browser: www.trello.com
- Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.trello&hl=en
- Apple iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/trello-organize-anything/id461504587
Google Hangouts offers a variety of features ranging from instant messaging, voice calls, HD video calls, HD group conferencing, auto screen focus, intelligent muting, compatibility with multiple computing devices, and built-in screen sharing.
Google Hangouts is free to call other Hangouts users.
- Browser: https://hangouts.google.com/
- Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.talk&hl=en
- Apple iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/hangouts/id643496868
Wire offers comprehensive collaboration suite featuring messenger, voice, video, conference calls, file-sharing, and external collaboration – all protected by the most secure end-to-end-encryption.
- Wire Pro € 4 (per user per month when billed biennially)
- Wire Enterprise € 8 (per user per month when billed biennially)
- Browser: https://app.wire.com/
- Windows: https://wire.com/en/download/
- Mac OS: https://apps.apple.com/app/wire/id931134707?mt=12
- Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wire
- Apple iOS: https://apps.apple.com/app/wire/id930944768
This application allows teachers to create classes, post assignments, and communicate with students with ease. It also allows teachers to see which students have completed their assignments and teachers can provide direct, real-time feedback and grades. With the current situation of lockdown, a lot of teachers have preferred Google Classroom to conduct online lectures.
Classroom is free for all users.