Business tips: 10 applications to connect your home with the outside world

With flights grounded and international travel on hold, serviced office company Regus is expecting a rush of people to its centres from where they will video-conference and tele-commute with the world. Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation offers a top ten listing of applications so you can do the same from the comfort of your home office.

You may not be able to reach them by air. but it is possible to speak with customers and partners through the airwaves. Here’s my top listing of applications that won’t cost you the earth.

Attend meetings
Say ‘hello’ and talk business with counterparts by utilising these online tools and services:

Dimdim – allows you to attend live meetings, demonstrations and webinars.

Ketchup – enables you to share and record meeting notes.

Pow Wow Now – free conference calling at ‘Open Access’ level. Priced packages also available.

Skype – free and easy to use conference calls for Skype users.

Tinychat – group video conferencing, for free at.

GoToWebinar – host a meeting of many and present to potential customers by inviting them to join you for an interactive webinar.

Manage projects 
Stay on top of projects and in touch with partners via one of these project management tools:

Basecamp – allows you to create projects, invite people to view them, upload files and make comments. It’s effective online project management that can be accessed from anywhere.

GoogleDocs – share documents via Google with GoogleDocs. You can edit on the move, choose who accesses documents and share changes in real-time.

Glasscubes – this tool offers project management, collaboration and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) all in one package.

Huddle – offers simple and secure online workspaces. Huddle is hosted so there’s no software to download and it’s free to get started.

When travel does come back on the agenda, there are other technologies to adopt to ensure the business travels with you, such as a webmail system that allows access to emails from anywhere, a remote desktop offering files and folders on the go, or web-based office systems like Google Apps or Open Office so the entire business is stored online and in easy reach. I’ll cover these in detail in a future piece. Until then, happy homeworking and connecting with the globe!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation , the home business website, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’. Her next book, ‘Working 5 to 9 – how to start a business in your spare time’, will be published in May 2010.

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