#B2Basics: Free Software to Keep Your Business Running From Home

work from home laptopOne of the biggest concerns from so many small business owners scrambling to set up a remote workforce is access, or more accurately, a lack of access. You may suddenly have found yourself at home and without many of the people and tools that help you get the job done each and every day. The good news is that you can overcome the obstacle of distance from your office and your co-workers with these free solutions and get your company back on track.

For Meetings:

video conference
With face to face meetings not an option right now for many of us, we’ve turned to technology. There are plenty of options out there for video chat and many of them are free, but beware that not all the platforms are a one-size-fits-all solution. Personally, I like to use Facebook Messenger to video chat with my family because it’s simple and intuitive (which my Mom appreciates) but that particular platform doesn’t work as well for our team meetings here at Amsterdam Printing.
We need to work with something a little more robust and have found that Microsoft Teams fits all of our needs.
With too many features to list here, rest assured that Teams can handle your video conference needs while also making light work of screen sharing, streaming, file sharing, text chat, live collaboration, and Outlook/calendar integration. The software comes with your Office 365 subscription, but, if your company doesn’t hold a Microsoft license don’t fear because they’ve made a FREE version that doesn’t require one! The free solution limits your total team members to 300, which is more than enough for most small business needs. We’ve found Teams to be an easy, dare I say fun, way to bring our team together, no matter where we are.
Get your free version of Microsoft Teams here

Productivity:

work from home office
There was a time when your company would have needed to purchase copies of expensive office productivity software for every employee with a computer, and that generally meant that you were going to spend some serious money. Also, that software needed to be installed and updated manually, meaning even more work for you.  Luckily for small business owners, purchasing these expensive applications is no longer necessarily a business need! You can enjoy all the functionality of the MS Office suite now online for the low-low price of zero dollars! Office Online is the free, web-based option for all of your favorite productivity apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and more. Office Online has all the function and familiarity of its non-web based versions and your documents automatically store on their cloud storage product, OneDrive. All that you need to use this suite of products is a Microsoft account (which is also free), internet access and a modern web browser. Log in and take it for a test drive here.

Shared File Storage:

cloud storage
Having the ability to share data is a must for most businesses. Maybe you’ve got a file server back at the office, but what do you do if you’re telecommuting and can’t get at all the stuff that keeps your company’s lights on? That’s where cloud storage comes in!
Though the first two products in this article were both Microsoft solutions, they aren’t the only game in town. The Big ‘G’, Google, is my personal favorite cloud storage option with Google Drive.
This app could not be easier to use. If you have a Google account you’ve already got a free 15 gigabytes and upgrading is cheap (I’ve got the 200 gig plan for three bucks a month). Once you’ve downloaded the app it can be set up like any drive on your computer, meaning you can just drop your files in there and they’ll automatically sync to the cloud. Share files and folders with your teammates in just a couple of clicks. The best part is that you can get to your data wherever you have internet access by simply signing into your Google account and accessing the Drive website!  Check out the storage and pricing options here, but remember that all you need is a Google account and you’re already in business with a free 15 gigs!

Staying connected while working remotely can be a challenge, but luckily there are options that will help your business adapt, overcome and succeed!  And what’s better than finding a solution to a challenge that you’re facing? Finding a FREE solution to the challenge that you’re facing!

 

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