If you're a regular reader of the blog you know that we here at Grasshopper are big proponents of working in a virtual office. It can be a smart and cost-efficient way to start a business and we've given tips on everything from “Setting up your virtual office” to “Balancing life in a virtual office”. Well we've got one more.
With over 300,000 apps available in 2010 and more being created every day, there are a number of really great apps...especially for those working in a virtual office! So here we go:
At Grasshopper Group, we have team members in Boston, Austin, San Francisco, North Carolina, Oregon and even Brazil. It's important that everyone is on the same page and we're able to reach one another when necessary. A couple of apps we keep handy for chat:
Campfire Campfire is an online collaboration & chat tool put out by 37 Signals. It's “like instant messaging, but designed exclusively for groups”. They currently have an iPhone version for mobile but have yet to come out with one for Android or Blackberry.
Skype Most everyone is familiar with Skype and for good reason. Skype is an excellent way to communicate with one another on the fly. Plus, with Skype mobile you can stay connected on the go (just like Grasshopper of course).
Files & Collaboration
Have you ever spent hours putting together a doc only to find that you saved it on a different computer? Or asked for feedback from someone and were forced to email it back and forth, forgetting which doc was the right one? Me too. The great thing about these apps is that they let you store files & collaborate with others from ANYWHERE.
Google Docs Google docs is an easy (and free) way to store and share docs with friends or colleagues. Simply upload your doc, choose who you want to share it with and access it from anywhere (including your phone)
DropBox If you haven't checked out DropBox, you need to. DropBox offers “online backup, file sync and sharing made easy”. You can upload, download & update files from anywhere and you get up to 2GB free. They have mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.
To do Lists/Notes
When you're building a business there are a million things you want and need to do. If you're like me, you need lists and notes and are constantly reminding yourself of new things. Whether you're on the go, or even just sitting in front of the TV, you need a way to quickly jot things down. Well there's an app for that:
Awesome Note Awesome Note, while only currently for the iPhone, is one of the highest rated notes apps. Combine notes and to do's, setup your calendar, create folders and backup your data to the web (it also syncs with Google docs and Evernote). Awesome Note is only $3.99 in the app store.
Springpad Springpad “gives you a place to quickly and easily save anything you want to remember. Take a note, create a task, scan a product barcode and look up the book your friend mentioned.” Available for desktop, Android & iPhone, Springpad is free.
Evernote Another highly rated notes app, Evernote lets you “Save your ideas, things you like, things you hear, and things you see.” Evernote is available for almost all mobile devices, free.
When are you really into what you are doing, it’s easy to lose track of time. It’s even easier when are you aren’t in an office. Whether you are a consultant tracking your hours or an entrepreneur just trying to figure out how long things are taking, it’s nice to be able to track that time. There are a few good time tracking apps that can help:
TimeWerks for iPhone TimeWerks is a more billing focused app and it's pretty robust. It lets you track projects, add billing rates, includes a built in stopwatch, and allows you to store contacts and export data. It runs for $9.99 but has some outstanding reviews.
TimeCatcher for Android Put out by Intuit, TimeCatcher lets you enter time after completing work, start a timer, track time on calls and export your timesheet via email or text message. Nice thing about it, it’s free.
How many passwords do you have? Do you even know? Personally, I have two spreadsheets (one work, one personal) each containing multiple tabs. Wouldn’t it be easier if I had them all in one place, and it was handy? Here are a couple password keeping apps:
Keeper Mobile Made by Callpod, Keeper Mobile offers a password and data “vault” that lets you sync between your desktop and mobile phone. They offer an app for the iPhone, Blackberry & Android. A free version is available but they also offer premium features for $29.99 per year.
My Eyes Only A password manager for the iPhone, My Eyes Only promises encrypted information that is never sent over the network. Store credit cards, logins, financial accounts and more. The app runs for $5.99.
When you have several teammates working in a virtual office, it can be hard to keep track of one another, especially if you are travelling. When does their flight land? What time are they coming back? With all the travel apps coming out, knowing these things is much easier.
TripIt TripIt is probably the best known travel app. It lets you store itineraries, get maps, link to hotels, restaurants and will even send you flight alerts and alternate flight options (only with TripIt Pro). They have free apps for iPhone, Android & Blackberry phones. Look for big things coming from TripIt as they recently were acquired by Concur.
WorldMate Synchronize your travel plans with WorldMate and then share it with your colleagues. It’s that simple. There’s an online travel planner, flight alerts, maps, directories, LinkedIn integration and much more. For free! They also have a Gold Status for those who are constantly on the go.
With all of the new apps on the market and the new ones on the way, working in a virtual office has never been easier. Which apps are your must haves?