7 programs to help with a hybrid workforce
From managing desk booking to controlling your machine from another device, many cloud-based programs are available to help connect remote and in-person work (Getty Images/PeopleImages)
As the WFH world slowly segues into a hybrid experience, the mix of online apps we use to bridge remote and on-site work may have some additions. While most applications are sold as subscriptions, a few are offered for free. But do your homework, as free may involve terms of service that allow the vendor to harvest and make use of your content.
1) FOR A CUSTOMIZABLE APPROACH: IOFFICE
Recently merged with workspace management company SpaceIQ, iOffice offers back-of-office management with dedicated mobile apps. Its Manager Plus monitors vehicle and equipment use, and Hippo CMMS (computerize maintenance management system) tracks work orders, preventive maintenance and parts inventory. Employee experience components include the Hummingbird mobile app that allows employees to find people, places and information, reserve desks or rooms, request services such as tech support, cleaning or catering.
The various pieces are licensed separately.
2) FOR CONTROL FROM ANYWHERE: CHROME REMOTE DESKTOP
This platform lets you connect to a system from any device, from anywhere with a connection and remotely control the machine. Chrome Remote Desktop also offers screen sharing for collaboration or remote support.
Use of the program is free.
3) FOR A BIT OF EVERYTHING: GOOGLE WORKSPACE
Offering all of the productivity tools you’d expect, Google Workspace includes everything from email to word processing to spreadsheeting. Everything is based in the cloud, although Google Docs (the word processor) can be used offline in the Chrome browser.
Pricing plans are available for business and enterprise.
4) FOR GREATER COLLABORATION: GATHER
A collaboration tool centred around customizable spaces, Gather users can opt for free or paid plans good for remote work, conferences, education or social events. Whiteboards, videos, shared documents, gaming and livestreams are all part of the experience. You can even build a virtual office and decorate the space to suit yourself.
A free tier designed for up to 25 concurrent users is available, plus paid tiers priced per user.
5) FOR FANS OF WINDOWS 10: WINDOWS 365
Microsoft recently introduced Windows 365, which is basically Windows 10 delivered as a service on the web. (Newly released Windows 11 is also part of the offering.) The program lets you run Windows on pretty much any hardware, since the processing happens in the cloud; all your computer does is provide the display and keyboard.
Like all of Microsoft's cloud products, its licensing is priced per user, per month.
6) FOR FLEXIBIBLE PLAN OPTIONS: MICROSOFT 365
Microsoft Office’s programs, too, are now offered under a subscription model with Microsoft 365. Offered with a range of plans, it contains a mix of tools depending on the subscription level. For example, the Business Basic plan provides access to the web and mobile apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Teams, while higher-priced plans allow users to download and install desktop versions of the programs as well as including more applications.
Pricing plans are available for individuals, families, businesses and large enterprises.
7) FOR AN OPEN-SOURCE OPTION: LIBREOFFICE
An open-source office suite, LibreOffice includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program, a database, a program for editing math formulas and a graphics program. It’s the successor to OpenOffice, using its code base and offering new releases every six months. However, there is no formal support; the LibreOffice Foundation recommends that businesses work with one of its commercial ecosystem partners.
Use of the program is free.