Your phone is an essential companion when you work from home. Apps can help with everything from video-conferencing and communication, to exercising, relaxation, and fetching the groceries. Here are the apps we recommend.
Video Conferencing Apps
The biggest shift when you work from home is you no longer have conversations in person with your colleagues. But just because you can’t go to the office doesn’t mean you won’t need to attend meetings and group calls.
A professional video-conferencing app can make this easier. You can start with one you’re probably already familiar with, like Skype (iPhone, Android). It allows you to accept and make calls right from your phone.
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If you need to host a meeting, try Zoom (iPhone, Android). You can host a 40-minute, online meeting with up to 500 participants for free.
Team Communication Apps
When you work from home for eight hours a day, you can’t just rely on video calls and emails for communication. To stay in touch with your colleagues throughout the day, you need a better system than a WhatsApp group chat.
Thankfully, there are specialized team communication apps available for all platforms, and they’ve been battle-tested by remote workers for years. If you’re just starting out, we recommend Slack (iPhone, Android). It’s what we use here at How-To Geek.
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If your company pays for a Microsoft subscription, you can try Microsoft Teams (iPhone, Android). Its features are similar to those on Slack. You can set up multiple channels and notifications, send personal messages, attach documents, and more.
Group Video Calling Apps
When you’re done with your workday (and you should set strict guidelines for your work hours), you’ll want to stay in touch with your close friends and family. How can you do that when you can’t go out? Again, video calls to the rescue!
If all your friends and family have an iPhone, there’s nothing quite like FaceTime. You can add up to 32 people, and use Animojis or fun effects. It’s one of our favorite apps for video-chatting.
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If some of your friends have Android phones, check out Houseparty (iPhone, Android). This unique video-calling app allows you to create multiple rooms with your friends. You can start a call with whoever’s available.
You can also set common social hours with your friends on Houseparty. Pick a time—maybe during lunch or after dinner—at which you can all gather in the app and chat. You can also use alternatives, like Skype or Google Hangouts.
You can stress yourself out if you watch, read, or listen to the news all day. However, checking in twice a day to see how the global situation is progressing is a good idea. You can do this in several ways.
First, pick a reliable source for national news and download its app (you can disable notifications if you want). Anything from The New York Times (iPhone, Android), Google News (iPhone, Android), or Reuters News (iPhone, Android) will do.
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Next, if your local news source has an app, download it. If not, you can use an RSS reader and add its website to your favorite RSS app. This way, you can also check important local news quickly without getting lost in your Twitter feed.
Just because you can’t go to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit! In fact, if you’re working from home and not moving around as much, it’s even more important to get some exercise.
You can start with the Nike Training Club (iPhone, Android). This free app has more than 190 workouts you can download, so you’re bound to find something interesting.
The Fitbit Coach app (iPhone, Android) is another good option. It offers a variety of personalized video workouts based on your fitness level. You can unlock the whole gallery for $7 a month.
If video workouts aren’t your thing, try Aaptiv (iPhone, Android). Just plug in your headphones or earbuds and follow the audio instructions for a quick workout.
Being at home all day can be stressful, even if you’re surrounded by family. However, you can use this time to build a meditation routine or use it to reduce your stress and anxiety levels.
Some meditations only take 10 minutes a day! To get started, check out Headspace (iPhone, Android), which is offering basic courses for free right now. You can also try Calm (iPhone, Android), which offers relaxing music, sleep casts, and a variety of guided meditation packs.
You can also try mindfulness meditation for free via the Smiling Mind (iPhone, Android). We recommend its Mindfulness Foundations course. It’s a great way for beginners to learn about mindfulness—just follow along with the program.
Relaxing Music Apps
Need some downtime? Perhaps you can take a nap. If you need some help falling asleep, you can try an app with relaxing music.
Relax Melodies (iPhone, Android) is one of the most popular. It has a huge collection of nature, autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), and water sounds, as well as white noise and meditation music. If you have trouble falling asleep, or you just want to play some relaxing music while you work, this one’s for you!
White Noise+ (iPhone), on the other hand, is a highly customizable ambient sound app. You can mix and match multiple white noises, like wind, rain, or a river, to create the perfect background noise for you.
Grocery Delivery Apps
If you want, you can order takeout lunch and dinner while you work from home. However, that will get old fairly quickly. If you don’t want to go shopping, it’s best to order your groceries and have them delivered to your front door.
There are a couple of apps that can help you out here. Of course, you can always use the Amazon or Walmart apps, but if you want fast delivery, try the Amazon Prime Now app (iPhone, Android). You can get produce and groceries delivered from your favorite local store in two hours.
If you live in North America, the best option is Instacart (iPhone, Android). It’s available in all major cities throughout the U.S. and supports more than 20,000 retailers. You can order groceries, produce, beer, wine, and many other household items. You pay online, and your groceries are delivered in about an hour.
Your local grocery store might use other apps, too—check with them to find out.
When you’re working from home, the best gift you can give yourself and your family is a healthy, home-cooked meal. Now that you’re saving time on commuting and can’t go out to eat, it’s a great time to learn how to cook.
Of course, you can keep things simple and just make sandwiches or salads. Or, you can use a cooking app to discover some awesome recipes.
If you’re a cooking novice, check out Yummly (iPhone, Android). This all-in-one cooking app has more than 2 million recipes with step-by-step instructions and even a shopping list feature. You can search and explore things you want to make, create lists of things to buy, and then make the dish. The app also has a very simple interface with both photos and text instructions.
With Kitchen Stories (iPhone, Android), you can become part of a cooking community. You can browse thousands of recipes uploaded by others on the app or share your own. This app is gorgeous to look at—you can even watch the recipe videos in HD.
If you’re a fan of the Food Network, you’ll like the Food Network Kitchen app (iPhone, Android). It brings all your favorite celebrity chefs and their videos together in one place.
If this is the first time you’ve worked from home, the transition can be challenging. Be sure to check out our tips for staying productive while you work from home.
RELATED: Tips for Working from Home (From a Guy Who's Been Doing It for a Decade)
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