The coronavirus crisis forced a significant number of businesses to close their offices and their employees to work from home.
But how has modern technology enabled these businesses to operate effectively in unfamiliar circumstances?
In this article, we look at seven SaaS tools that helped facilitate remote work.
You have to have been living under a rock for the last six months to have missed the Zoom-revolution that has swept right across the globe.
As working habits changed, more or less overnight, so did the way that businesses and people operated and interacted.
For those who were experiencing the thrills of remote work for the first time, a video conferencing solution was needed to ensure that it was business as usual. Zoom certainly seemed the people's choice.
Did you know?
Between May and July, Zoom’s revenue increased by over 350% to a staggering £496.3 million.
From a professional perspective, Zoom is ideal as it offers FREE 40-minute calls for up to 100 participants. For organisations needing to increase the time or participant count, there are different subscription options available.
Zoom’s success has extended beyond the world of business. While they don’t make up the majority of users, Zoom’s easy-to-use interface has meant that it’s also been a popular tool to use outside of a professional setting.
“While PayFit UK may have only 20 employees, the global PayFit team numbers over 500.
“When lockdown first kicked in, and the scale of the pandemic was becoming visible to everyone, the leadership team decided to implement regular company-wide updates.
“Zoom was the obvious choice as a video conferencing solution for over 500 employees. It’s simple to use for large audiences and has managed to maintain a reliable video quality despite a massive increase in global usage.”
Nick Miller, PayFit UK Country Manager
Okay, we're not claiming to be the hipsters' choice when it comes to software, and we do understand that Slack is hardly a small-time player in the world of business communication platforms.
However, we can't disguise the fact that throughout the pandemic, Slack has been able to provide many companies with an extremely reliable and valuable service.
Founded in the late noughties, Slack's users were numbered at 10 million in January this year; however, a little over six months later, this had increased by 25% to over 12.5 million.
This can be attributed to the drastic decrease in people attending places of work. With over-the-desk-chats, "water cooler conversations" and coffee breaks no longer an option, Slack has become an easy and manageable alternative.
With the option to select different statuses - e.g. 🗓 - In a meeting, 🚕 - Out of office and 🤒 - Sick, Slack has been able to provide the flexibility and accessibility to allow people to communicate effectively with colleagues while working from a distance.
"We've always used Slack, but it's true that during lockdown and the preceding months, Slack has become our principal internal communication tool.
"Without being able to hold face-to-face chats with our colleagues, Slack has been a good way of ensuring that our teams have been able to stay in touch.
"We've also put in place internal guidelines. For example, we ask team members to check in in the morning so that everyone knows they’ve started the day. In addition to this, we’ve implemented best practice regarding statuses.
“These have been helpful in allowing employees to understand whether someone is busy or not and whether or not they should expect a slightly longer response time."
Sophie Matthews, PayFit UK People Manager
Struggling to implement best practices? Unable to provide your employees with access to key information? Fed up with important announcements being overlooked?
Boy have we got news for you…
Okay, okay, okay. Corny sales pitches like this are never likely to be the best way of selling a product; however, trying to eloquently explain the benefits of using Notion is surprisingly tricky.
A tool such as Notion is invaluable in a time where communication and employee engagement has never been more critical.
Notion covers so much that in many ways, it may even be easier to run through the things that the app doesn't actually do which, to be quite frank, is very little!
The app allows companies to plan, collaborate, organise, take notes, add tasks and wikis and manage projects on an app that is operated exclusively in the cloud.
"Notion has always been an important tool for us at PayFit. In many ways, Notion is our company bible - if it's not on there, then the chances are it's not all that important.
"During lockdown, we had a new starter who joined my team. Notion played a significant part in her onboarding as we built a selection of Notion pages that were specifically set up to ensure her first week went as smoothly as possible.
"Notion's flexibility allows us to use it in different ways. As the manager of PayFit's customer service team, it's useful for us to record processes when it comes to serving our customers.
"Having a tool that is so easy-to-use and is always readily available means that we're able to perform our roles effectively even when working away from the office."
Hayley Kenny, PayFit UK Customer Support Manager
How in vogue are webinars right now? They are so popular, there is even talk of a well-known fashion label releasing a webinar-themed range.
The last point is evidently a lie, but it still shouldn't detract away from the fact that literally EVERYONE is doing webinars at the minute.
The reason for this is fairly obvious. With normal networking events such as conferences, trade shows and seminars clearly not conducive to safe social distancing regulations, companies have been scrambling to find alternatives that allow for them to continue to engage with prospects and build on sales pipelines.
Webinars are a comparatively cheap alternative to the events mentioned above, and with so many companies having slashed marketing budgets, there is an increased opportunity for organisations to collaborate with each other on projects.
Companies like Livestorm, a French startup specialising in browser-based conferencing software, are ideal for businesses looking to run live, on-demand or automated webinars.
"There are various providers that people could use to run webinars including the now world-renowned Zoom, however, Livestorm really fits the bill for us.
"We decided to go for Livestorm as the platform not only allows us to host live webinars but also on-demand webinars. Recorded webinars stay on the platform helping us capture additional viewers details after the webinar has ended.
“It’s easy to use with some extensive automation features, interaction tools, good analytics on registered audiences and integration with Zappier.”
Chloé Compérat, PayFit UK Marketing Lead
In a time when consumers don't need much of an excuse to keep their money in their pockets, companies certainly don't want to be turning them away due to providing negligible levels of customer service.
Having good customer service software is vital for ensuring that customers are treated quickly and efficiently.
There are several options out there; however, Zendesk is an excellent option for both small and larger businesses.
Not only is it easy to use, but it also has a selection of useful features including a chat/website integration and in-depth analytics.
"Zendesk has been an invaluable tool for our team to share a communal inbox while working remotely.
"Internally, it's helped us to keep track of all customer conversations, share internal notes and advice as well as ensuring that we can provide swift and informed responses to all of our customers."
Rhian Evans, PayFit UK Customer Support Agent
It may not be a surprising fact, but video content is estimated to be seven times more engaging than other content. This trend is only likely to increase. By 2022, it is predicted that online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic - 15 times higher than in 2017.
With 75% of all online video content played through mobile devices, there is clearly a strong appetite for high-quality and impactful content.
However, producing it can be expensive and the conditions imposed by coronavirus have hardly been ideal for employing the services of several cast members.
Thankfully though, there is an alternative.
PlayPlay offers a quick and easy solution by allowing even the most technologically inept to produce engaging video content in a matter of minutes.
Users can choose from over 300 video templates and can add their individual branding to each one.
"Payroll isn't everyone's idea of a good laugh, however, we shouldn't underestimate its importance and how it impacts the daily lives of employers and employees.
"During the coronavirus pandemic, it felt like changes affecting important subjects such as Statutory Sick Pay and furlough were being released more or less every day.
"As a payroll software provider, we had a duty to keep our customers and users informed about all these latest changes.
"PlayPlay was super helpful as it allowed us to produce high-quality videos, relaying these important changes in bite-size chunks, in next to no time at all."
Sam Simmons, PayFit UK Content Marketing Coordinator
Selling is always hard, but amid a worldwide pandemic (that could potentially lead to one of the worst economic crises in history), selling can be ESPECIALLY hard.
With just about every industry impacted, many companies spent the first half of 2020 balancing the books and revisiting spending.
With trade shows cancelled, and opportunities to go out and meet prospects a distant dream, sales teams had to get down and dirty...and creative.
Loom is an excellent software that allows users to record short videos that can be instantly shared. This means that it is ideal for use in sales pitches or email sequences when reaching out to prospects.
"The pandemic forced us to find new and creative ways of reaching out to prospects, and we wanted to stand out from the crowd and make our sales pitches more personalised.
"Loom was the perfect tool for our sales team as it allowed us to edit videos and gather some precious insights and data.
"The feedback we received was great and a lot of prospects, regardless of whether they were interested in our service, commented on how the videos represented a nice change from the standard email pitches they receive."
Arvin Modarresi, PayFit UK Sales Development Representative