Top 20 free apps to increase your business productivity

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increase-business-productivity
Image source: Shutterstock/Oberon

In today’s world, businesses wanting to succeed in obtaining new levels of profitability, need to innovate and change the technology and apps they use to increase their business’s productivity. However, business leaders are often hesitant in investing in highly inexpensive software packages as licensing costs could eat into their razor-thin profit margins.

Fortunately, there are plenty of office productivity applications available which do not bound SMEs into a long term and expensive contract. Provided your workstations are up to date, there are many free office productivity alternatives.  Whether it’s on a laptop or desktop, these applications can provide you with the same level of functionality within a very reasonable and practical set-up.

Small businesses using cloud-based IT systems, online accounting software, and digital training tools have £262,000 higher annual turnover than those using none.

UK Business Digital Index 2019

Businesses can start using the below-listed applications immediately to increase their business productivity without disturbing their cash flow.

Many of the applications listed below use the freemium model, whereby the app provides basic functionality for free.  More advanced features are delivered either via paid add-ons or once the full version is purchased.   Alternatively, some of the applications use advertising to fund their product.

Each of these applications is scalable, meaning businesses can pay to unlock the full potential of the application if required. Here is a list of 20 applications which can help you boost and increase your business productivity:

Top office apps for improved business productivity

Most office suites comprise of a collection of productivity software typically containing a word processor, spreadsheet and a presentation program.

Recently, many different brands and types of office suites have become available on the market, offering a more extensive choice for any business wishing to increase productivity.

All the apps listed below follow international document standards and cross-format compatability, such as Micrsoft Office (.doc, .xls, Open XML), OpenDocument, and Portable Document Format (PDF):

Google

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Image copyright: Google LLC

Google’s G-Suite is one of the leading online tools that entrepreneurs turn to when wanting to increase business productivity.  The reason?  G-Suites’ emphasis on collaboration.  Employees can work on shared word documents (Google Docs), spreadsheets (Google Sheets), and presentations (Google Slides).

G-Suite also offers many other free features and apps which any business, hoping to increase productivity, will find invaluable.  The best thing about G-suite is that it lets you connect the documents in G-Suite to other Google offerings.  An example of this is the ability to save, store and share documents in Google Drive – with 15GB included for free.

G-Suite business productivity suite

Features:
Platforms: Online – Android, Windows, Mac OS, iOS
Word processing: Yes – Google Docs
Spreadsheet: Yes – Google Sheets
Presentation: Yes – Google Slides
Database management: Yes – Google Fusion Tables
Communication: Yes – Hangouts Chat/Meet
Image viewer: Yes – Google Photos
Note Taking
Diagramming
Raster graphics editor
Vector graphics editor
Calendaring
Project management
File hosting service
Desktop publishing

Office on the web

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Image copyright: Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft has been synonymous with office productivity apps for a long time. It’s free offering, Office on the web, has been around for a while.  Previously known as Office Web Apps and Office Online, Microsoft’s offering features all the core office productivity tools, such as MS Word, MS Excel and MS Powerpoint  – albeit with limited functionality.

Businesses looking for database, image viewer and graphics editor will likely need to upgrade to gain these capabilities.  However, basic image editing is available in MS Powerpoint and MS Word. Microsoft Office on the Web offers users familiarity, with a wide range of essential functions, and is a vital app suite for any business seeking to increase productivity.

Office on the web business productivity suite

Features:
Platforms: Windows, macOS (partial), Android, iOS
Word processing: Yes – MS Word
Spreadsheet: Yes – MS Excel
Presentation: Yes – MS Powerpoint
Database management: No (Pro only)
Communication: Yes – MS Teams
Image viewer: No
Note Taking
Diagramming software
Raster graphics editor
Vector graphics editor
Calendaring
Project management
File hosting service
Desktop publishing
Visio Viewer

LibreOffice

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Image copyright: The Document Foundation

Released in 2010 by The Document Foundation, LibreOffice is an open-source office suite.   LibreOffice comes with an impressive array of applications, including word processing, creating and editing of spreadsheets, slideshows, diagrams and drawings, working with databases, and is available in 115 languages.

LibreOffice uses ODF (Open Document Format), or OpenDocument, as its native file format.  Through import and export, it can also support the file formats of most other major office suites.  LibreOffice is available for all the major platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android and iOS, and also online as LibreOffice Online.

LibreOffice business productivity suite

Features:
Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android (beta)
Word processing: Yes – LibraOffice Writer
Spreadsheet: Yes – LibraOffice Calc
Presentation: Yes – LibraOffice Impress
Database management: Yes – LibraOffice Base
Communication: No
Image viewer: Yes – LibraOffice Draw
Note Taking
Diagramming
Raster graphics editor
Vector graphics editor
Calendaring
Project management
File hosting service
Desktop publishing

Zoho Office Suite

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Image copyright: Zoho Corporation Private Limited

Launched initially in 2005 with a web-based word processor, Zoho has since increased its SaaS offering into a fully fledged web-based online office suite.  Zoho provides a raft of core business productivity apps as part of its Zoho Office Suite, such as word processing, spreadsheet software, presentations, and note taking. More advanced features, are available with the paid versions.

Zoho has plugins into MS Word and Excel, as well as OpenOffice.org and Firefox. Furthermore, Zoho offers a number of extensions from its marketplace to tailor its products to your business’s specific needs – boosting your business productivity.

 

Zoho Office business productivity suite

Features:
Platforms: Online – macOS, Windows
Word processing: Yes – Zoho Writer
Spreadsheet: Yes – Zoho Sheet
Presentation: Yes – Zoho Show
Database management: Yes – Zoho Reports
Communication: No
Image viewer: No
Note Taking
Diagramming
Raster graphics editor
Vector graphics editor
Calendaring
Project management
File hosting service
Desktop publishing

Business email productivity apps

Most of our workday is spent checking email.  Yet, email is only a means to an end – delivering projects, removing bottlenecks, arranging meetings – not the end itself.

As a versitile form of communication, email has transitioned to an “always-on” technology by convention, helping us to be great at teamwork, communication, and problem-solving.

With email at the centre of day-to-day business communications, having a great email app which contributes to an increase in business productivity is a must.  Here are the best email productivity apps:

Gmail

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Copyright: Google Inc.

If you have been using Outlook, then getting the hang of Gmail could be a little problematic for you. However, once you get used to it, you would conclude that Gmail Web-based is much better than Outlook in many ways. It has a user friendly as well as a modern interface and collaborates perfectly with other Google services.

The best thing about Gmail is that it is the best tool to stop spam and malware. It has got extra smart features such as sending and receiving money through Google Pay, send automatic emails to those near to expiry date, snooze an email, and other options that can only be achieved on a one-time code.

Get Gmail


Outlook mail

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Copyright: Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft’s Outlook Mail comes just after Gmail for providing the best service and experience of its kind. Although it does not offer its customers as many robust features as Gmail does, it’s still the number two free choice of many entrepreneurs out there.

It’s merely a stripped-down version of Office 365 Outlook, and its design is even more straightforward than Gmail. Customisation is also possible in the reading pane if you and your business team find Gmail to be confusing and are comfortable with Microsoft Office products than you should go for Outlook for email services.

Get Outlook mail


Yahoo

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Copyright: Yahoo Inc.

Yahoo email is ranked as number three on the list of best email service providers. The stats state that almost 227 million people use Yahoo for their emails, and they receive an impressive amount of terabytes to store their emails.

Yahoo has a feature called aliases which lets you email as many as 500 addresses at a time without showing your email address or any personal information. This could be very useful if you sign up for a web account but do not want your inbox to be filled with unnecessary emails. Although its stability is always put into question, what with many complaints about outages and crashes.

Get Yahoo mail


Zoho Mail

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Copyright: Zoho Corporation Private Limited

Zoho mail is a complete application to be used on a desktop similar to Office 365. It gives them the storage of about 5GB to store their emails. If you require further space in Zoho Mail, you can purchase even beyond 1TB.

Also if you are using its free version, it is ads-free unlike Outlook in which if you are using the free version you have to bear so many ads. The best thing that I like about Zoho’s email is that it lets you customise your email ID. For instance, [email protected]

Get Zoho Mail


Yandex

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copyright: Yandex N.V.

This app’s origin is Russia, and it has a very friendly user interface with a straightforward and easy layout making it very easy to understand for beginners. Some of its useful features include the option of customisation of the interface as well as scheduling widget which lets you send the email at the time you want. You have to log in to your Vandex account to enable the rest of its platforms, like image library and iCloud storage offering up-to 10GB of free space.

Get Yandex


Task management apps to increase business productivity

Agantty

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Copyright: Agantty GmbH

This software is based in German and also plans things with a built-in calendar installed in it. It lets you add projects, tasks, and assign team members and use-flow Gantt workflow chart. You can search for what you have to do this month or next month. It also collaborates with famous cloud storage such as Google Drive and  Dropbox.


nTask

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Copyright: nTask

This is a perfect management tool, especially for creative projects. It allows its users to create tasks based on online-calendar and make bundles of those tasks into a project, create a timesheet, flag issues, and convene meetings. It has also got a Nifty feature which shows the percentage of work that has been completed to date. To sum it up, it’s good to keep account of another expensive workflow of management platforms into one app.


Apps for improved workplace communication

Flock

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Copyright: Flock FZ-LLC

It has got a very colourful user interface that can attract anyone. It lets you have a private and public conversation with your work colleagues. It connects with you the other universal working apps that could be of use for you, such as Twitter, Trello, and Google Drive. It also provides a nifty video conferencing feature.

Its free version is aimed for smaller teams getting started and offers them 10GB storage.

The paid-up version has many more features for you to unlock and according to Flock is two-third cheaper than Slack.


Slack

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Copyright: Slack Technologies, Inc.

If you have been wondering about a software that could connect all of your team members for some instant messages, then Slack is the thing for you. It’s much faster and more convenient than interoffice emails. It let you message into a group and chose different themes related to “new projects” and “Channels” or even “export plan”. In this way you can have all your conversations organised and save for later use. It collaborates with cloud storage such as Microsoft Online, Dropbox, and Google Drive. It can link data from project management systems like Trello and Asana. There are big companies that have been using Slack that includes News UK, Ocado, and BBC. If you want to use the free version, it will give you free storage of up to worth of 10K.


Business productivity apps for mobile devices

Doodle

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Copyright: Doodle

Busy and off to somewhere and have to plan a meeting as well? Doodle is the answer! It lets you check the availability for the members of the meeting and then fix the time and dates with them. It’s available to be downloaded on iOS and Android.

The free option allows you to get scheduling suggested times and then invite participants to the meeting, confirming the place and locking the event. It can also collaborate with your favourite calendar, either iCalendar, Google, or Outlook.

The paid version of Doodle brings you the option to send reminders, calendar invites as well as the option to add the company logo and scrape the member’s contact information.


Evernote

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Copyright: Evernote Corporation

Evernote is the best application you can have to make notes, either personal or business-related. It has an option to set a lock and password for each different note individually. You can create notes that can be converted into a notebook for easy references in the future. It lets you connect to Google Drive, and emailing systems such as Outlook and CRMs such as Salesforce.

The paid-up version costs 11 pounds a month. You will be surprised that over 224 million in the world use this app for business planning or only for making notes or writing short stories.


Top productivity apps for social media management

Google Analytics

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Copyright: Google Inc.

Google Analytics is the best tool that you can have to make improvements to your website. It lets you know who visited your website and whether it was a paid digital advertising or their visit was out of someone’s reference. That will help in knowing if your digital marketing techniques are effective and working. You can also know the best performing page from your website and which page kept most of the customers attached for a long time—that aids in giving a tweak to your marketing return on investment.


Hootsuite

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Copyright: Hootsuite Media, Inc.

We all know how crucial it is for a small business to be able to do marketing through social media digitally, no matter it’s for customer engagement, or launching of a new project or simply being up to date with your surroundings.

At the same time, it is as crucial as anything to know what others are saying about your brand, how they perceive your competitors and the sector you operate in as a whole. And with substantial social platforms that rates you and your service so openly, it can be quiet daunting and pressurising to perform well.

So, for that, Hootsuite allows you to connect all your social media accounts whether they be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and many others to be managed under one app, enabling you to post and analyse your performance on it. The analytics it provides can tremendously improve your social return on investment.

The single version lets you connect any three social platforms, 30 free of cost scheduled messages, and allows 2 RSS feed which lets you know instantly about any updates about the related information on the internet.

The paid-up plan offers you to connect ten social media profiles allowing you to auto the settings of scheduled posts. It costs up to 25 pounds.


TweetDeck

Are you a person who just does not get along with twitter and streaming it in order overwhelms you? Then you should try Twitter’s widget called Twitterdeck, which lets you put all your Twitter feed in order and can manage up to 200 Twitter accounts at a time. Scheduling your tweets as well as send or monitor your tweets without having to share your password with them.


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