Home office, teleworking, coworking, self-employment and the so-called “gig economy”: Digitalization creates new forms of work that turn the traditional world of work upside down. We present innovative business apps from the cloud that are designed for the future of work.

Why are innovative solutions needed?

Fixed office jobs, long-term employment relationships and regular working hours are no longer as natural as they used to be. With the increasing digitalization of the economy and the triumphal march of cloud, social and mobile computing, telework is becoming increasingly popular. The internet industry in particular is playing a pioneering role. For example, Automattic, the software company behind the online blog system WordPress, is known for its flexible, location-independent and multicultural work culture. Of approximately 250 employees working for the online service for developers GitHub, 75 percent are doing it from home. The social media marketing service Buffer also relies on remote work. Basecamp, one of the market leaders in the field of project management software, has even written a whole book about the advantages of this new work culture with “Remote – Office Not Required”.

This trend is not only evident in the United States. In Scandinavian countries as well as in the Netherlands, France, Great Britain and Switzerland, home office has increased steadily in recent years. In July 2015, the Netherlands even anchored the right to home office in the law. In Germany, this development is not as pronounced. However, around 4.7 million people in Germany are now working mostly from home – 2.7 million even mainly.

Many of the “knowledge workers” who consciously forego a permanent office job today are not even employed by a company. The so-called “Freelance Economy” is booming. According to a recent study by the American Freelancers Union, there are already around 53 million freelancers in the United States. That corresponds to about 34 percent of the workforce in America. By 2020 it should be 50 percent.

Work flexibly, stay productive

The flexible forms of work that are drastically changing our increasingly digitized world of work require a new corporate culture and appropriate management methods. Traditional working hierarchies disappear, while values ​​such as agility, personal responsibility and flexibility are emphasized. In this context, special collaboration solutions promise efficient collaboration beyond the classic office. They ensure that companies cannot only maintain their productivity, but can even improve it.

Remote work can only work if communication and collaboration work smoothly and if there is transparency and trust between employers and employees. This is where modern SaaS services come into play.

Time tracking creates mutual trust

Modern time tracking services such as TrackingTime enable companies that choose to implement flexible forms of work to create trust between managers and employees. While employees can keep track of their services and working hours comfortably and in detail – no matter where they work from – project managers and superiors can always have an overview of their team’s work.

Our app brings task management and time tracking to a common denominator. Users can manage their project tasks professionally and conveniently track their working hours at the same time. With the stopwatch, which is integrated in the task list, the time is tracked in real time and with just one click. In addition, time entries can be edited manually at any time. Right from the start, we designed our product specifically for distributed teams and built in some nice-to-have features that were well received by our customers. For example, you can always see what tasks each team member is currently working on with the online dashboard. There are countless time tracking tools in the market with which we compete. In addition to the market leaders Harvest and Toggl, there are many other interesting alternatives such as HubStaff, which are specially designed for remote teams.

Invoicing for the self-employed

Cloud invoicing solutions, as they are available in countless variants today, address not only companies, but also freelancers and the self-employed who need to charge their services and projects professionally. You can automate the most important invoicing processes and take care of the correct structure of the invoices and compliance with legal regulations. If you are looking for an intuitive and feature-rich billing software, we recommend Debitoor from Berlin, a sophisticated SaaS service developed in the German capital that scores with an intuitive UI.

An interesting alternative to Debitoor, also developed in Germany, is Papierkram. Specifically adressed to the needs of freelancers and the self-employed, the web tool helps to efficiently carry out tedious office tasks. The main functions include master data management, quotation and invoicing, time tracking, document management and accounting.

Chat instead of email

If team members don’t work together in the office, business chat services such as HipChat, Slack or Grape from Austria can provide valuable services. They enable distributed work teams to exchange information with any number of colleagues in private or public chat rooms and easily share files with one another. All discussions are stored in the cloud so that you can search them at any time if necessary. HipChat, Slack and Co. thus provide more transparency and promote the exchange of knowledge among employees, no matter where and at what time they work. Another advantage: Modern chat tools offer countless integration options with other business apps.

Create virtual workspaces

Companies that are not satisfied with the feature set of a lightweight chat app and are dependent on advanced planning tools use project management tools. In particular software developers, architecture studios, design, marketing or internet agencies rely on such tools to efficiently manage project resources, schedules, deadlines and responsibilities. Through the central administration of project goals and tasks and the integration of communication tools, they ensure better collaboration outside of the traditional office for complex projects. The offer has become extremely diverse. We have been using Basecamp for years. Trello is becoming increasingly popular. Holistic PM solutions like Wrike are particularly suitable for larger teams. This sophisticated software from Mountain View convinces with an extensive feature set, many integration options and great mobile apps.