The past year has been quite the year for all of us. If you’re like us, you’ve probably had to adapt to new ways of working from home and collaborating online, while trying to stay productive with everything going on around you.
Even if you’ve made it back to the office, chances are many of your teammates are still working remotely at least part of the time — a change that’s probably here to stay.
With so much more remote work and less in-person collaboration, finding the right business platforms for communicating, staying on top of projects, and performing other business functions is so important.
That’s why we wanted to write this article to let you know what five of our favorite technologies, some old and some new, have been from the past year. We hope you get the chance to try them out and that they help make your life at work easier too!
Five Apps and Tools That Made Us More Productive This Past Year
Have you ever wished that reading and responding to emails was more like chatting? Well, now it is — Spike email is the world’s first conversational email app that turns your inbox threads into chat-style conversations.
We loved how this collaborative email platform helps teams connect and communicate in a more natural way compared to responding to long email threads with lots of clutter and repetitive content in them.
Besides that, Spike email has a bunch of other features that we found super useful for facilitating team collaboration and boosting our productivity.
For example, Spike allows for collaborative notes, tasks, and to-do lists, so you can use it for project management. We love the feature that allows you to chat in a sidebar right within a note, so you can collaborate in real time.
Besides that, Spike email has built-in video conferencing and voice notes, for when text-based chatting isn’t enough.
This first-of-its-kind conversational email app really changed the way we did things at work this year, which is why it’s at the top of our list of the best business apps and tools of 2021.
Trello is a Kanban-style project management platform that we tried out this year and found to be helpful for keeping track of certain tasks and to-dos. We think it’s especially useful for anyone who likes to organize information in a visual way.
The platform is very easy to use, and the free version lets you create multiple boards and customize them to suit your needs. Trello is a suitable solution for teams or individuals looking to get more organized, though it doesn’t have live chat or email integration, like Spike does.
One of the things that’s most satisfying about using Trello is checking items off your to-do lists and moving cards from column to column, i.e., from to-do, to doing, to done (this is the default setup for the columns).
For people who work remotely, especially for non-local companies or clients, we think PayPal is the best way to get paid and send invoices.
Anyone can set up a PayPal account and get paid from almost anywhere in the world (it’s available in more than 200 countries and regions), so it’s a very universal payment solution.
The built-in invoicing feature makes it easy to send itemized invoices to clients that they can pay with the click of their mouse, and you automatically have records of all your transactions online for accounting purposes.
Also read: Trending Gadgets of The Year
When it comes to collaborating on more traditional documents and spreadsheets, we really like to use Google Drive. It’s free to sign up and you get 15GB of storage for free, plus access to Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and all of Google’s other business tools.
People who are used to using Microsoft Word and Excel will find the transition to using Google Docs and Sheets very smooth.
However, you also get the benefit of incredibly easy team collaboration — you can invite users to collaborate on files with certain permissions, or update general file permissions (so anyone with access can view, comment, or edit) and share a link with whoever you want to give access to.
For pure file storage and sharing, we still think Dropbox is the best out there. The file sharing platform has been around since 2007 and is still going strong, and with good reason.
It’s a close call between Dropbox and Google Drive for file sharing, but Dropbox is just a bit faster and easier to use, especially if you want to store a lot of media including images and videos.
However, if you want to get the best of both Google Drive and Dropbox, you can integrate Dropbox with Google Drive, which allows you to save and store things like Google Docs and Sheets right to Dropbox.
That being said, the free version of Dropbox only gives you 2GB of free file storage, so if you need more than that, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan.