As we strive to stay connected, positive, and productive during these challenging times, remote work can feel like a double-edged sword. We may not have to commute or dress as formally, but it can be harder to focus on the actual work at hand. Not to mention, the isolation can be a downer.
To help keep your new WFH regimen balanced — we’re rounding out a list of five apps you should have on your radar to get the most out of your day but also remain in touch with friends and family
Keeping the Spontaneity and Joy of Conversations
Video chat apps are seeing a substantial spike in downloads while stay-at-home orders remain in place for the majority of the country. When working from home, it can be easy to feel pressured to constantly “be on.” Now more than ever, it is important to take the time for yourself and relax and connect with others and app developers are taking this into consideration.
Acquired by Fortnite maker Epic Games in 2019, Houseparty, for example, has seen massive growth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Per TechCrunch, the social networking app has seen 50 million downloads in a single month, a figure 70X above compared to pre-COVID levels in some markets. It’s currently the top-ranked social app in 80+ countries including the U.S., and #1 overall in 16 countries.
At a glance, Houseparty, billed the “face-to-face social network” is popular for its functionality that allows eight users group video chat via smartphone or desktop app. Tapping into other social networks including Facebook and Snapchat, it makes finding friends and family a seamless experience. The app alerts you when your friends are “in the house” and ready to chat and from there you can jump into a call or join another “party” and play games with quarantine friends like trivia and Ellen’s “Heads Up!”
The Makeshift Office
One of the largest changes introduced by COVID-19 is the global work from home movement. If you’ve been thrust into a remote work setup, there are a number of tools you can utilize to help make your new professional routine easier and fun.
There may not be that ideal replacement for those spontaneous conversations at one another’s desks or the office water cooler, but these apps deliver an element of spontaneity amidst the pre-mandated Zoom meetings, Slack threads and email chains we all need.
Loom is an enterprise collaboration video messaging service that allows for face-to-face time when you’re away from the office. Quickly record a video when you have a question, need to troubleshoot a problem, or have a document to narrate. Watch videos you receive from teammates when you’re in between tasks or meetings or taking a lunch break. To date, Loom is used by 2M+ users across more than 50k companies who record over 15 million minutes of video every month.
Hitting the scene just last month, Around is the new video chat software targeted towards multitaskers.
Designed for laptop users, the app crops video call participants down to circles that float on your screen freeing up space for your other work in the background. It taps into auto-zoom functionality and noise-canceling features to ensure your face and voice remain in focus.
“People want to make eye contact. They want to connect. But they also want to get stuff done. Around treats video as the means to an end, not the end in itself,” explained Around CEO Domink Zane in a recent statement. Put simply, Around acknowledges the need for presence and connection today but designed so we have the proper space to remain in flow.
Screen is an interactive screen sharing app where everyone gets a cursor to control the window and collaborate across code, design, and writing.
A few concrete use cases of the app including chatting over audio or video calling in an overlaid window, overlay drawing on the screen to annotate items when working together in a document, and posting ephemeral text comments when someone else is speaking and you and other colleagues don’t want to interrupt. With Screen you can also launch meetings from Slack and schedule them with Google calendar integration.
Think of Pragli as the Bitmoji for professionals.
Serving as an avatar-based virtual office, Pragli helps you know whether someone’s in a meeting, heads down on a deliverable, stepping out for a break, or unplugged for the day. Unlike Slack which can sometimes cause ambiguity as to whether someone is actually available or not, Pragli seeks to translate the real-world presence we’re unable to have today to the remote workspace.
In turn, you can make more informed decisions as to whether you do a quick audio call, reschedule a meeting for another day or time, send a chat message they can come back to later if the matter isn’t urgent, or schedule a longer video meeting.
“What Slack did for email, we want to do for video conferencing,” Pragli co-founder Doug Safreno explains. “Traditional video conferencing is exclusive by design, whereas Pragli is inclusive. Just like in an office, you can see who is talking to who.”
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