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Working At Home? Zoho Releases Free Productivity Suite For Remote Workers (That It Built Remotely)

John Koetsier

Hundreds of thousands of us are working remotely from our homes thanks to Coronavirus. But to work remotely, you need remote work tools for collaboration, communication, coordination, and more.

Sensing an opportunity, CRM and productivity apps maker Zoho built and released a new suite of remote working tools in literally a week.

As of today, that suite is free for all.

“The product didn't exist ... as of Monday,” Zoho chief evangelist Raju Vegesna told me today on the TechFirst podcast. “The entire Remotely product was put together remotely.”

Of course, that was only possible because Zoho has an existing suite of productivity tools. The company packaged 11 of them to form Remotely, and it includes a virtual meeting platform, an office suite with word processing, presentation, and number-crunching apps, as well as project management tools.

To pull together a suite in less than a week Zoho used staff at its offices in India, Texas, California, Europe, and other locations in Asia Pacific, Vegesna says.

“Pretty much every team is remote ... from development, deployment, marketing, content publishing,” Vegesna says. “Every single aspect of it is done remotely.”

Data that I separately received yesterday from Blind, which anonymously surveys workers, suggests that most tech workers are avoiding the commute for fear of Coronavirus. 81% of Microsoft employees are working from home, and 76% of Amazon employees are doing the same. Google and Facebook, on the other hand, were sitting at 34% and 55%.

Ultimately, I’m sure those numbers will go up, as companies are starting to mandate that their workforce not come into the office.

It’s worth noting, of course, that most big tech companies will have existing technology for remote work: Slack, Hangouts, Skype, and shared documents in Google Drive or Office 365. But Zoho’s new Remotely offering could be helpful to smaller startups and companies that have not invested in remote-capable workforces.

Lost in the technology, however, are those workers in service and manufacturing industries who simply cannot do their jobs remotely.

They deserve our thoughts and care now as they also struggle to stay safe and put food on the table.

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I forecast and analyze trends affecting the mobile ecosystem. I've been a journalist, analyst, and corporate executive, and have chronicled the rise of the mobile

I forecast and analyze trends affecting the mobile ecosystem. I've been a journalist, analyst, and corporate executive, and have chronicled the rise of the mobile economy. I built the VB Insight research team at VentureBeat and managed teams creating software for partners like Intel and Disney. In addition, I've led technical teams, built social sites and mobile apps, and consulted on mobile, social, and IoT. In 2014, I was named to Folio's top 100 of the media industry's "most innovative entrepreneurs and market shaker-uppers.” I live in Vancouver, Canada with my family, where I coach baseball and hockey, though not at the same time.