Best tech tools for you to work from home
​ ​ and ​the kids too

The coronavirus is making us consider different scenarios. What if I need to work from home? What’s the best way to make sure our products and services still reach our customers? How can I stop traveling to visit clients? What will the kids do to keep up their grades should a breakout happen at their school?

Microsoft Teams, the new name for business Skype subscriptions, gives you access to larger group calls as well as live document collaboration. The company is offering an upgrade to businesses and other partners with employees working remotely.

​The free Teams app has limits on file storage and the ability to record meetings, but beginning on March 10, Microsoft will lift those restrictions through a free six-month trial of the premium version of the app.

​​Find out more about the free work from home tools offered by Google and Microsoft. You’ll also find instructions for requesting the services and setting them up.

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More tools for collaboration


​If Google and Microsoft’s business tools seem like overload, 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. A terrific side benefit to using Zoom is its feature that uses soft-focus to make your face Instagram-worthy. Called “Touch up my appearance,” you’ll find the steps to use it here. You’re welcome.


​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 for $6.67 per user per month.

What everyone also wants to know about the coronavirus is this: How many people, countries and cities have it and how fast is it spreading? For straight facts, visit Johns Hopkins University’s free, interactive online global map. 

​Working remotely is done best when the team is working cohesively in the cloud. Google's G Suite is a business subscription version of Google Drive that includes popular productivity software like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

​Google’s big competitor in this space is Microsoft’s Office 365 that includes popular Office programs such as Word and Excel. Microsoft's service also offers remote access, teleconferencing and live document collaboration.

Re​mote Team Resources

Here's a roundup of a few that can help to strengthen not only your team's effectiveness, but its bond as well. 

1. Trello

​Trello, a web-based app, uses Post-it note-like visualization to help organize projects that your employees are working on. You can use it to log your own personal to-dos or assign new tasks to others. "I love Trello because I can zoom in to as granular a detail as I want and zoom out just as much to get the bird’s eye view," Google Insights Lead Gautam Ramdurai recently wrote in a post on Medium. The free iOS and web app comes from Joel Spolsky, a prolific software developer who also helped to create programmer Q&A site Stack Exchange and software project management tool FogBugz.

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​The aptly named software enables you and your team to create murals for remote brainstorming and idea mapping. A working mural looks like a digital collage of sticky notes, YouTube videos, images and Microsoft Office docs. was designed with creative teams in mind, but its founders -- game developers from Buenos Aires -- indicate it's for anyone who values interdisciplinary thinking. The company has raised $920,000 from Intel Capital, Alta Ventures, 500 Startups, according to CrunchBase.

3. ​TINYpulse

Rather than gauge employee satisfaction with a survey once a year, TINYpulse--also an email service--regularly monitors company morale through anonymous questionnaires. Every one to two weeks, employees receive an email that asks something like, "How valued do you feel at work?" The results give managers get a near real-time feel for employee morale, and employees can view the data as well.

The tool comes from entrepreneur David Niu, who spent time abroad asking small business owners about the number one thing he could help them with, according to GeekWire. After learning it was employee retention, Niu's answer to them was TINYpulse.

4. PivotalTracker

​PivotalTracker project management software is an old developer favorite from web and mobile development consultancy Pivotal Labs. PivotalTracker helps your team of engineers to prioritize and focus on "stories." Stories are short descriptions of some functionality you're trying implement in your software. Pivotal Labs built PivotalTracker in 2006 for its own developers, and since its 2008 public release it has been used by more than 500,000 people, Pivotal says.

​5. ​Pushpin Planner from Project Ricochet

​​Pushpin Planner software gives you a bird's eye-view of how your team is spending their time. Your team can report what they're working on and for how long. Then you can see who's available for extra projects so that you can make new assignments. The tool comes from Project Ricochet, a firm that specializes in Drupal development.

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