We take a look at 5 apps that have underscored the new necessities of remote work: collaboration, security, employee engagement… and a well-equipped home office, as identified in Okta 2021 Business at Work report.


Many of us have adapted seamlessly to working from home over the last 12 months. Technology, and the way software organisations have stepped up to the plate to supply the tools we needed most, has been key to this. We take a look at 5 apps that have underscored the new necessities of remote work: collaboration, security, employee engagement… and a well-equipped home office, as identified in Okta 2021 Business at Work report.

While it now feels utterly normal to join a professional video chat and see the inside of people’s home offices, kitchens, or sheds, the fact is that it’s only been normal for less than a year. Many people thrive on home working, although some did struggle with the shift, and numerous reports have explored the clear benefits of a more flexible working situation than most of us had pre-pandemic. 

One of the main reasons why many of us have adapted so seamlessly is the role technology has played, and the way software organisations stepped up to the plate to supply the tools we needed most. ‘A shakeup in our top apps underscores the new necessities of remote work: collaboration, security, employee engagement… and a well-equipped home office’, states the Okta 2021 Business at Work report. 

As well as a rise in the use – and choice – of tools that enable us to better work with our colleagues, clients, and peers, remote workers have required additional protection that their employers would normally take responsibility for, hence the rise in security-related apps. Additionally, HR teams are busy investing in whatever will give them the best employee engagement, in order to ensure staff feel happy and supported at a time when they’re separated from their co-workers.

Interestingly, the Okta report shows that 90% of the fastest-growing apps are brand new to the top 10 – the first time in the report’s history. ‘Companies needed to enable remote work, which means supporting at-home workspaces and virtual collaboration, and these apps helped them do it. Also, for the first time, security tools claim four top spots in the fastest growing category, and an HR-centric tool appears for the first time since 2016’.

Microsoft 365

The real heavyweight app of 2020/21 was Microsoft 365, which is no surprise considering most office workers need to use at least one element of the app every day, and many of them haven’t invested in it for their personal computers. In the words of the Okta report, ‘Since our first report in 2015, Microsoft 265, Salesforce, and Google Workspace have held three of our top four spots. They may have rebranded once or twice, but they are embedded in our desktops and our work lives’.


Amazon Web Services is a cloud computing service that works on a pay-what-you-use basis – it’s not surprising, then, that it’s such a popular choice, particularly at a time when the way we work has changed so drastically. ‘We’ve seen some exciting changes in out top rank’, the report states. ‘Cloud platform AWS has risen steadily from sixth place five years ago to become this year’s second most popular app by number of customers’. 

‘The new second-place global rank for AWS is driven by its strong growth in EMEA and APAC, where it has seen over 25% growth since April 2020, compared to 16% growth in North America during the same time period’. 


A CRM platform and cloud computing service, Salesforce’s popularity has remained steadfastly near the top of the list. This is thanks, in part, to its usage in the US: ‘Salesforce and Zoom’s global ranks are underpinned by their popularity in North America’, the report states. In APAC and EMEA, Salesforce is several spots lower, but this hasn’t affected its appreciation elsewhere.

Google Workspace

Formerly known as G Suite, Google Workspace combines collaboration and productivity tools, and cloud computing. Its broad appeal has brought it to the top four spot, regardless of how it overlaps with other apps. ‘While companies may splurge on a few best-of-breed apps, we might expect they would tighten their belts where they see clear redundancy. However, 36% of Okta’s Microsoft 365 customers now also deploy Google Workspace, the largest jump in the past three years. Top collaboration tools have never been more important for productivity’.


Zoom is no longer simply a name – it’s a verb. “Shall we Zoom later?” is the latest “Google it”, thanks to the video call app’s usability, stability, and business-friendly features like the ability to record meetings and set a photo of the Taj Mahal as your background. ‘Tools enabling collaboration, including Zoom, have jumped in the ranks’, the report states.

‘[It] had only joined the top apps by unique users for the first time in 2019, ended this current data period in sixth place. In our Businesses at Work (from Home) report in April, when we highlighted apps that had seen significant growth in numbers of corporate and personal users in March, Zoom was our fastest growing app by number of unique users. While unique users dipped a bit over summer, by the end of September they were reaching new highs, likely related to Zoom’s extensive efforts to support distance learning’.


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