The 5 best apps for employee productivity

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The 5 best apps for employee productivity

The digital revolution has mostly changed our lives for the better, but there’s one way in which it’s hurting businesses: employee productivity. Limitless distractions are now available at our fingertips, on both our computers and our phones, and only the strongest-willed among us can resist.

Luckily, there are innovations that can help remedy this problem. Some come in the form of restructuring the very spaces we work in: roomy breakout spaces and standing desks are known to improve employee productivity when implemented correctly.

There are also plenty of clever ideas to tackle distractions that are available on your phone. So, if you’re are struggling to stay productive, the good news is that there might just be an app for that.

Here are our 5 favourite apps to help you and your team stay focused at work.

1. Forest

Screenshot of the Forest productivity app

Available on: iOS, Android

Price: Free (Google Play), £1.99 (App Store)

Remember when Tamagotchi was all the rage? Forest uses a similar concept: you nurture a virtual being until it reaches full growth, which Forest uses it to “gamify” your productivity.

When you want to focus, you plant a tree in the Forest app. In your focus time, the seed will begin to grow, slowly developing into a sturdy digital tree as each minute passes.

However, if you leave the app and do something else on your phone during your focus time, your tree dies. Whether it’s to check Facebook, your emails or to indulge in some Buzzfeed clickbait, there’s suddenly something to lose. By providing an immediate consequence of distraction, Forest deters people from using their phones unless they absolutely have to.

The app helps employees stay on track by not only raising the stakes in the game but in the real world, too. As employees build their own forest of trees (a great visual representation of all that good focus time), they earn points that they can spend on planting trees in real life.

It’s good for your business and good for the environment. What’s not to love?

2. Trello

Screenshot of the Trello desktop appAvailable on: Desktop, iOS, Android

Price: Free

Losing track of tasks can be a big productivity killer. Trello helps prevent that by providing you with a way to visualise all of your projects at once.

When you want to create a new task in Trello, you create a ‘card’. You can then add attachments, comments, deadlines and other users that the project is relevant to each card. Each user on your card will get notified each time you update it and can add their own comments, too.

Cards go into lists that you can label according to status. For example, projects that haven’t yet been started might go into a list called “Pipeline”, whereas tasks awaiting some feedback or need more information might go into a list called “Blocked”. Ordering your tasks like this lets you quickly see where any project is up to — no more wasting time sifting through emails when Karen from Accounts needs an update.

Best of all, Trello is free to use, so you can add everybody in your team to your board and start working together straight away.

3. Hours

Screenshot of the Hours productivity app

Available on: iOS

Price: Free

Sometimes you’ll be in the middle of a task, get distracted, and then before you know it, an hour’s gone by.

Keeping track of how you’ve used your time helps you retrospectively identify where you’ve used your time well, and where you might have idly whittled those minutes away.

Hours makes tracking time easy. You add new tasks that you’re working on and click the timer next to them when you start. Whenever you switch your focus to something else, you can start timing on the next task. When your day has finished, you’ll have a timeline that displays how you’ve used all of your time in a simple way.

Not quite accurate? You can go back and edit your timeline to ensure it’s a true representation of your day to factor in for those ad hoc requests.

4. Slack

Screenshot of the Slack desktop appAvailable on: Desktop, iOS, Android

Price: Free with Premium plans available

Slack is so revolutionary that it’s already found its way into thousands of workplaces across the world. It removes the pain of sifting through emails by providing an easy-to-use internal communications tool.

Slack helps teams work on projects together with instant messaging. Users can create separate ‘channels’ in which specific projects, clients or even company events can be discussed. You can tag other users to alert them to messages that they might need to see — that way, rather than asking you to dig out an old email, your colleagues can simply check through the channel to find the relevant conversation thread.

It’s free to use, too, so you can get your team signed up and tackling those big projects together in no time without having to leave their desks.

5. Grammarly

The Grammarly logo

Available on: Desktop, iOS, Android

Price: Free with Premium plans available

I know what you’re thinking: a grammar-checking tool isn’t a productivity tool. However, bad grammar can actually cost your company hundreds of hours of employee time; with every “Can you check this email for me?”, someone gets pulled away from a task that’s more important.

Grammarly buys you time back by working as a language assistant wherever you’re typing. When you install Grammarly on your browser, it will proofread your emails, social posts and documents, making quick suggestions to improve that clunky turn of phrase or wordy sentences.

Best of all, the basic version of Grammarly is free, so you can ensure your employees are outputting well-written, professional-sounding work without it costing you a penny.

 

Smart apps like these are helping offices around the world stay motivated and productive amidst a growing tidal wave of digital distraction.

Worried that young workers have been conditioned to be distracted online? Find out why Millennials actually make the best employees.

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