Whether you’re a digital nomad, an employee at a distributed company, or you just work from home occasionally, it’s safe to say that the future of work is very much remote. In fact, a survey by Gallup found that in 2016, 43% of Americans spent at least some time working remotely, so you could say the future is already here.
To match this growing phenomenon, dozens of tools and technologies have been developed to keep workers productive, focused and healthy. So if you’re planning to work remotely, you’ll want to take note of these tools that will make your life easier.
Communication is key
One of the biggest challenges with remote working is having the ability to communicate effectively when you aren’t present in the office. Fortunately, there are several companies who have set out to tackle this problem.
Slack is arguably the most popular app in a remote worker’s toolkit, and the cloud-based software has reinvented the way in which teams communicate. It allows for companies to have private or group chats, and to create separate channels for different teams and functions.
Slack also has the capacity to share files, and supports multiple app integrations, and allows you the opportunity to build your own – all in one easy-to-use instant messaging platform.
When messaging isn’t enough, there are several great tools available to make voice and video calls. While Slack does have some options for this, it’s best saved for impromptu one-on-one catch-ups. For group meetings, Google Hangouts or Zoom are often the preferred choice for many remote workers. The big draws? Both are simple and both are free.
Collaboration and organisation
Communication may be key, but it is nothing without collaboration and organisation. Fortunately there are plenty of tools available for people who like to keep things flowing smoothly. You’ll be hard pressed to find a remote worker who isn’t managing their projects using Trello, which acts as an online post-it note board that can be shared between team members.
57% of projects break down due to poor communication, and Trello, with task boards and checklists, and with the option to integrate with Slack, is the perfect tool for ensuring you and your colleagues don’t become part of this alarming statistic.
After you’ve shared tasks and project deadlines with each other in Trello, it’s important to think about how you’re going to share and collaborate on the projects themselves. Tools such as Google Drive and Dropbox allow for the sharing and safe storing of all of your documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. Both are extremely similar and offer free price plan options and Slack integration; which one you use is completely down to personal preference.
You know you can always rely on a Google product, and this remains true of Google Calendar. Want to create shared events for you and the team? This is the tool for you. Want to go one step further and quickly get feedback for when and where any events should be? Use Doodle for swift organising through emailed polls.
If you work for a large organisation, you might already be using a robust and multi-purpose workspace collaboration tool like Podio, which provides the task-assignment features of Trello, the file management of Google Drive, and the scheduling capabilities of Google Calendar all under one roof. For smaller teams, Podio offers a free subscription for up to five internal employees and five external workers too.
Managing your time effectively
Staying productive when you’re working at home by yourself can be tough, especially since it’s been suggested that the average worker only works for 3 hours in an 8-hour day. It’s crucial to stay on top of your productivity game, and for this, there are two popular tools that many remote workers swear by.
Firstly, there’s Time Doctor which tracks the time that you’ve spent on projects, and reports back to your managers. Time Doctor claim a 22% increase in productivity for workers using their app, but for those that don’t want or need to be monitored by management, you can also use it for your own personal time-tracking.
Another great productivity tool is iDoneThis, a system that allows for daily check-ins, progress reports, and catch-ups with work that’s already been completed. For companies that have multiple teams and multiple ongoing projects, this is a great tool for staying on track.
As well as keeping your focus on your productivity, it’s crucial to ensure that you also focus on your health. Meditation has been proven to lower stress levels, and is one of the easiest health routines you can undertake. For this, there is no better tool than Headspace.
It’s also important that you learn when to take breaks from your work too. One of the most innovate and universally adopted methods is the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests taking a 5-minute break every 25-minutes. Tools such as PomoDoneApp have been designed to help you do this, and this can be easily integrated with your Slack app too.
Planning to work abroad?
And finally, perhaps you want to use your remote working lifestyle to travel? There are plenty of tools at your disposal to make this journey plain sailing.
Nomad List is your one-stop shop for finding the best cities to live and work in around the world, allowing for extensive search features to find you the perfect match. For example, you can search for cities that have “clean air”, “mountains” and are “female safe”; this kind of considerate search option just isn’t found in many other travel guides.
It’ll also help you to find the best co-working spaces in the area, and other tools, such as WorkFrom, can show you which coffee shops are most suitable for you to get your head down to work too.
Don’t forget the basics!
I’ve listed over a dozen different tools in this article, and we understand this can seem a little overwhelming at first. But, with each one performing just one or two simple functions, and with easy integration between many of the apps, they can quickly become a rock solid part of your routine. You’ll wonder how you ever worked remotely without them!
Alongside these tools, it’s crucial to make sure that you have the basics in place too; things such as an ergonomic working space, a stable internet connection, and a good level of light. Combine these with the tools listed above, and you’ll find your levels of productivity quickly increasing.
When you get this right, you’ll notice huge benefits to your work. In fact, 91% of remote workers believe that they are more productive when working remotely, as compared to when in the office. Remote work isn’t for everyone, and it can seem daunting to be by yourself at first, but with this list of collaborative and productivity-boosting tools at your disposal, you will feel as fully-equipped as you are when you’re in the office!