We spend most of our time at work - around 40 hours on average per week in the United Kingdom. Yet apparently, we’re less efficient than our European neighbours.
Generally, software that can help to improve our working lives can be quite pricy particularly if we manage businesses that don’t have as deep pockets as some major corporates.
Let’s just say that for now, the jury is out on whether we’re less productive than the Germans and the Swiss. So, what could tip the scales in our favour?
Tools that make work easy and cheap is one way to add a positive spin to the working day. Usually ‘free’ means ‘not as good’. But these apps and websites could definitely help you do a job as professionally as, well, the pros.
Here’s what we think you should consider if you are on a budget and want to take advantage of some free or basic services:
- For design
If you want to design a company logo, presentation, poster or social media cover display few sites can beat what Canva delivers for free. Canva describes itself as a simplified graphic-design tool and was founded in 2012.
It packs a punch in terms of the services it can offer and it’s really easy to use and very little training is needed. Non-designers, as well as professionals, can make use of its simple drag and drop format. You have access to photographs, vector images, graphics and fonts.
Quite a lot of tools, images, templates and icons are free, but they do have versions that you need to pay for. Personally, I haven’t seen them charge more than $1 for premium images.
A premium version unlocks more design templates, images and more folders to organise your designs.
- For free pictures for your website
Having a business account to access the likes of Getty and Shutterstock can be an expensive exercise. It’s a drop in the ocean financially for large corporations but if you want images for your blog and you’re running a medium or small enterprise it can really cut into your budget.
While some of these sites may say ‘Free for commercial use’ and ‘No attribution required’, we highly recommend attributing the images anyway. It costs you nothing and gives them exposure in exchange for the free images they’ve let you use. It’s only polite!
- Monitoring time
When it comes to monitoring your time, nothing costs less than the watch on your arm. But, that’s not a great or professional enough tool to record the time in which it takes to conduct a project. Well, not when it comes to the business world!
Just remember that not all of them have ‘idle detection’ which means that if you forget to stop the timer on a particular project it will just carry on!
As with most free offerings, some have upgraded versions which typically fetch a fee.
- For file storage
You can store data on cloud services, such as Apple iCloud, DropBox, BT Cloud and Google Drive.
Many of these are well-known and offer a number of GB for free – usually between 10 to 15. But one of the main things you need to consider when it comes to free cloud storage is the security and compliance issues.
These services may be useful for personal photos or non-sensitive information, but if in doubt it’s important to consult experts to ensure that you are compliant with regulators. Customer data protection is paramount and with new GDPR rules and regulations, your business stands a chance of being fined if vital customer information is stored incorrectly and leaked due to poor security practices.
At SchemeServe, we use enterprise-level software to ensure that you have peace of mind. What’s more, we ensure that our customers’ data and information is always backed up and easily retrieved in the event of a disruption to the service.
- Help with to-do lists
When it comes to a traditional home, to-do lists are scribbled on fridges in the hope that the tasks are remembered. But when it comes to the office, you need more professional structure to record your tasks and assign them to the relevant person.
Some, like Todoist, offer premium and business versions as well, which can be considered if you need more features. But it’s important to try out free versions beforehand to ensure you’re happy with the service.
There’s a saying that goes: ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch!’ That’s because generally, there is no such thing. Many of these websites offer free tools and services but some do so only to a point.
Extra features could still cost you on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. Our advice would be to not dive straight into any premium or business version unless you are happy with the free trial or basic version.
When you have more sophisticated needs there’s no doubt that you’ll need more professional services. Keep track of what you’re using and how much of it you are using as there may come a time when these services are not free and then you’ll have to weigh up whether the upgrades are worth it.
It’s also likely that some of these services are offering free pictures and tools as there’s some kind of exposure or data to be gained from it all. But once that has been satisfied, you could get a bill.
Remember to be courteous if you're using free services. They may not demand attribution but it's the right thing to do. Using a free image? Link back to the website or mention the artist.
Be sure to read the terms and conditions of any service that you’re using – even if they’re free just so you understand what the parameters are and so that you’re not locked into a deal that you may not like further down the line.
Image by Free Photos from Pixabay