How to Run a Hybrid Office: Top Apps
Even before COVID-19 forced the workforce to move home, office hybridization was on the rise. It gives workers the freedom to manage their lives around their workload. Removes the need to commute, and offers a better work/life balance. However, personal choice and job necessity mean that some workers prefer to be based in an office. Managing these dual requirements can often be a challenge, especially in terms of scheduling and communication. Leaving some businesses scratching their heads over how to run a hybrid office. Thankfully, there are several software solutions to help you, including time management and video conferencing packages.
How to run a hybrid office with Chat tools – Slack and Teams
Two of the top apps for a hybrid office are Slack and Microsoft Teams. For years, Slack has been the go-to tool for managing remote teams, such as a group of freelancers. Offering a clean, easy-to-use app for both mobile and desktop computers. At one point, Microsoft was considering buying the company for $8 billion, before it decided to create its similarly-styled Teams software. At first glance, both offer many of the same features including:
- File storage
- Audio and video calls
- Screen sharing
- Chat messages
There are some notable differences worth calling out, however. Teams currently offer a higher storage capacity – 10GB vs Slack’s 5GB – and also allows guest access. Users of Slack’s free version will also only be able to see the last 10,000 messages, which you can quickly reach in large organizations. Teams users, on the other hand, can go back through any of their chats without limitations.
Microsoft’s offering has its own limitations, however. Prior to the pandemic, meetings were restricted to 60 minutes. Afterward, this was increased to 30 hours, with no word on if it would eventually revert back. It’s also designed for integration with Microsoft Office 365, so if you work in a different ecosystem, it may not be the best choice.
The best video conferencing apps – Zoom and GoToMeeting
While Teams and Slack are handy for day-to-day comms between colleagues, sometimes you might want something a little bit more advanced to fulfill your video conferencing requirements. Tools like Zoom and GoToMeeting, for example, offer more features and cater to larger conferences for big business.
Zoom became synonymous with video calls in 2020, although the company was founded almost a decade earlier. Zoom supports up to 100 participants for free, and up to 1,000 with its premium packages. With 49 participants (plus the host) being displayed on the screen at any one time. It also has useful features such as polling, screen share, calendar integration, breakout rooms, and the option to go old-school and dial in on a phone.
Another option is GoToMeeting from LogMeIn. It offers similar features to Zoom, but with arguably better mobile app integration and quality (based on reviews). The other advantage is that its highest price tier can accommodate up to 3,000 participants – three times that of Zoom. LogMeIn also offers a cloud-based phone system with GoToConnect included as part of that package, so larger businesses looking for a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution may find that it saves them money in the long run.
Video presenting software – XSplit Suite
When managing a hybrid office, you need to have solutions for running remote presentations and other interactive sessions such as training or pitching. The XSplit Suite has a wide range of top apps for a hybrid office, including:
Presenter gives you the tools to create stunning and engaging presentations. You can import slides from PowerPoint or Google Slides, videos from YouTube or Vimeo, and then run the presentation through Zoom, Teams, or any video call service. You can even add your own camera with background removal enabled and add guest speakers! Recording the presentation to be shared later is just as easy!
Capture is like a handy snippet tool for both screenshots and videos. You can specify the area of the screen you want to capture, record, or take a still image, and then add annotations or even a voice-over.
Finally, VCam takes the features to blur or replace your background on Teams or Zoom and ramps it up. The intelligent software can add a blur or simply strengthen the depth of field, giving your presentation a more cinematic quality. It also offers a high-quality background replacement, removing the need for a green screen while keeping you in focus. You can even use videos or YouTube videos as your backgrounds, adding lower thirds or company logos with ease for external calls.
Top Apps for time management and organization – RescueTime and Toggl Track
Calendar meetings and reminders are useful for scheduling, but what about the rest of your workday? That’s where you may want to try using an app to help you maximize not just your time, but that of your entire team as well.
RescueTime vows to help you take back control of your time. It does this in a number of smart ways, including tracking websites, blocking distractions when required, and assessing your schedule. It also has a smart coaching feature to keep you on track of what they term ‘Focus Work’.
While RescueTime is more focused on an individual, Toggl Track has a wider scope. It is more focused on your internal teams and external clients. With the aim of reducing time wasted on timecards, billing, and invoicing. It also has tools to look at new projects, with the ability to forecast timelines, budgets and track the overall progress. It can generate easy-to-read reports for clients that show them the progress being made.
With these tools at your disposal, you should find your hybrid office team working in a more streamlined way as they achieve a better work-life balance. If your team members are continuing to WFH, they may find our blog on the importance of keeping a schedule at home useful.