Make Your Team More Productive With these Free Tools
Regardless of your role within a company or organization, chances are you've hit a stumbling block or two when it comes to workplace productivity. Improving your company's culture or revamping your workspace for increased focus are two wonderful tips for productivity, but they may not assist your entire team with their daily tasks and organizational communication.
That's where business tools tend to come in handy. Often, when you hear the phrase "business tools," you may be inclined to stifle a yawn, or be tempted to hide your company credit card in fear that you'll be roped into a year-long, costly subscription for an application your team never uses. However, there are a few key business tools that can increase your team's productivity and help keep every member on track - tools that just so happen to be free. Huzzah!
So, what are these helpful tools and why should you use 'em? Take a peek below before signing up for another business app that doesn't serve your team!
Virtually everyone (and their Uncle Steve) has heard of Slack - a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services. In the event you've never heard of this tool or have yet to give it a whirl, Slack can be best described as a modern-day MSN Messenger for businesses, on steroids. Among its many user-friendly features, Slack allows teams and entire organizations to communicate in a manner similar to texting or Facebook Messenger, while allowing for file + media sharing, screen sharing, in-Slack calls and more.
Like any great business tool, Slack isn't totally free; if you want to share a screen, for example, you have to pay a small monthly fee. However, you don't have to pay to use the Free version of Slack and can have up to 9.5k messages before you have to pay a tiny monthly fee. Rest assured, the fee is totally worth it if you choose to upgrade to a paid subscription (especially for organizations which need to consistently communicate with fellow team members throughout the workday).
Bonus: Slack allows teams to communicate anywhere, anytime, which serves international organizations well!
Yet another common business tool that has both free and paid plan options (like Slack), Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work. You can think of Asana as a calendar, task tracker, personal assistant, file sharing platform and deadline reminder, all rolled into one. The possibilities with Asana are nearly endless, and you can use the platform for free (depending on your team or business needs).
The benefit of Asana is the ability to stay up-to-date in real time with all tasks, including keeping track of deadlines and client projects. At Sugarpop Marketing, we use Asana to assign tasks to various team members, but Asana also allows team members to jump onto tasks, as well. It's like one big, collaborative workspace!
Bonus: With Asana, team managers can easily keep track of tasks and their progression, which means more productivity and less micromanaging ;)
Google Hangouts is sort of like the distant cousin you met once or twice as a child but don't see again until you're randomly invited to their wedding 15 years later. People often forget about this tool because, simply put, it's not the most exposed feature of Google's many tools and applications. There is, however, one pretty big advantage to using Google Hangouts: free meetings!
With Google Hangouts, you can host meetings with people in and outside of your organization, which is great news not only for large and small-scale businesses but those which operate different offices (national or international). While Skype does the trick, that tool can often result in an unreliable connection, whereas Google Hangouts offers chat, video and voice call features which just won't quit (until you do)!
Bonus: Google Hangouts also allows for free screen-sharing, which makes presentations with distant team members effortless.
Likely beneficial for small-scale businesses or teams, Clockify comes in handy when it's time to track the hours you team members work each day. It proclaims to be the "only truly free time tracker for teams" and allows you to create time sheets, use an online timer to track employee hours, and offers an interactive dashboard where you can easily keep track of your team members' progression. This simplifies the process managers often have to go through to collect, record and track employee hours!
Bonus: This tool is free to use and allows team members to record their hours and keep track for themselves!
If you're thinking that a free Instagram planning tool may be too good to be true, you're both right and wrong. Planoly is what you might imagine a lifestyle blogger would be if they were suddenly turned into a digital planning tool - think punches of pastel pinks with content calendar features that you can use across both mobile and desktop versions of the application.
While Planoly is free for one account only, playing around with this tool (and its new auto-post feature) will convince you to sign up for a paid subscription, if only because it allows you to keep track of everything you need for quick, at-a-glance analytics of how your Instagram content is performing.
Bonus: Planoly is both a content calendar and post scheduler that you'll love if you're tired of flying by the seat of your pants when it comes to your Instagram content strategy. It may also help you decide on a brand aesthetic on Instagram!
If you've ever stopped to consider whether your email is grammatically correct (and therefore professional) or if you've used a word/phrase/punctuation correctly, then you need to try Grammarly.
This tool, a cloud-based English-language writing-enhancement platform, is perfect for any professional seeking simple assistance with their grammar online when writing social media posts, emails and more. Simply put, Grammarly is a browser extension which automatically checks your writing on various platforms for grammatical errors and corrects them, achieving two main things: ensuring you look smart as hell when writing your 200th email of the day, and showing you exactly where you can improve your grammar
Bonus: Grammarly is like the old-school English Lit teacher with the dreamy British accent you had in first-year university who not-so-subtly corrected you, but made you feel instantly smarter.