New to remote work? Welcome! The flexibility and freedom that come with working remotely can be wonderful.
But remote work comes with challenges and distractions, as well.
The good news is that working remotely is nothing new and there are a lot of great tools to help you work more productively, efficiently and effectively with teammates, contractors and collaborators.
Here are 12+ of our favorite communication and productivity tools for remote workers.
Slack tops our list because, with remote work, clear, quick communication is essential. No one wants to sort through an email thread that involves five people and has 15 replies to get the information they need.
Slack is free, it has a very small learning curve, and by taking communication out of our inboxes, it enables you to get the information you need and keep moving.
There are other tools with messaging capabilities, including Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but Slack changed the game and remains the standard.
Project Management Tools
We don’t want to single out one project management tool because the best project management tool for you is the one that you’ll use. The point of any project management tool is to visualize goals and objectives, set deadlines and status markers, assign tasks, and track progress.
Well-known project management tools include Asana, Trello, Airtable, and Monday. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, they all handle the project management essentials listed above, and they all display information differently. The best way to choose a project management tool is to clarify your work and workflow needs, and go with the tool that does what you need rather than choosing a tool and trying to make your workflow fit into it.
Document Sharing Tools
Project management tools have some storage capacity but you’ll likely need a place to store files, images and assets. Google Drive, Box and Dropbox are our top-of-mind solutions. They both integrate with existing tools, they have generous free storage, and they offer pro upgrades if/when you need more space.
World Time Buddy
One of the challenges of working on a remote team that spans different time zones is finding a meeting time that works for everyone. World Time Buddy is a world clock, a time zone converter, and an online meeting scheduler. Born from frustration with existing apps, World Time Buddy is a convenient way to sync up with your remote team.
Good ol’ Zoom. What would we do without it? Whether you’re having a quick one-on-one chat, having a team meeting, hosting a webinar, running online events, conferences or summits, celebrating wins or doing worksprints together, Zoom is it. The platform has, in the last six months, become a lifeline for newly remote professionals, the work from home force, parents, students, families and beyond. Pro upgrades give you more capacity in your room, unlimited meeting time, webinar formatting and more. For highly collaborative group sessions, Zoom Rooms Video Conferencing is a tool to leverage for face-to-face communication with colleagues or clients while limiting physical interaction. A Zoom Room essentially turns any meeting room into an enhanced video conferencing experience with large flat screen displays, HD cameras, built-in microphones, and wireless content sharing between multiple users for a seamless and interactive experience. Meeting set-up is taken care of ahead of time and users can activate their meeting with the touch of a button.
Enough with the back and forths about call times, already. Calendly gives your connections, collaborators and colleagues a way to choose a time on your calendar that works for them. It compares against your existing appointments, handles reminder emails, integrates nicely with Zoom and is a really clean and simple interface. Upgrade options include the ability to take payment for consultations, coaching, calles etc. directly through the app.
Live Answering Services
While you’re managing the challenges of remote work, who is managing your phone calls? Live answering services let you stay focused on your work, knowing that a live professional will answer, direct and handle your calls. Live answering through Pacific Workplaces’ sister company, CloudVO, is becoming increasingly popular as a productivity tool as the remote workforce grows.
One of the challenges of remote work is that the hours—and days—tend to all roll together into a blur of to-dos. Productivity and focus strategies, such as the Pomodoro technique, help you stay focused on the task at hand. The idea is simple, yet powerful: set a 25 minute timer and, for that time, focus exclusively on one task. No distractions, no hopping over to your inbox or Instagram, just one task.
If you haven’t worked in Pomodoros before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you can get accomplished in an uninterrupted session. String Pomorodos together to up-level your whole day. Working in Pomodoros can be as simple as setting the timer on your phone to 25 minutes. But there are lots of Pomodoro timers, including physical timers and apps. One of our favorites is Pomofocus.
So you’re now working remotely, which means that you’re not in your office, which means you need to receive mail someplace other than your office. But you don’t want to use your home address, right?
Enter virtual mail. With virtual mail, you can have physical mail delivered to a professional address, you can arrange for deliveries to your virtual workspace, you can have your mail digitally scanned and sent to you, and more. Mail management is so easy and convenient with digital mail services.
If you’re tasked with tracking your time on a project, or with a client, make it easy on yourself by using a time tracking app. One of our favorites is Toggl. It’s simple to use, yet it offers valuable metrics, the ability to choose tasks and clients, reporting and more. Another popular option is Harvest.
Group brainstorming is part of any team collaboration. It’s great when you can brainstorm in-person with a whiteboard and post-its, but that’s not always possible. Mind mapping software lets you take the informal brainstorm virtual.
The benefits of group virtual mind mapping as a remote professional include idea generation and capture, file sharing and task assignments. Mind map software is generally super flexible so nodes can be added, removed and moved easily. Maps are stored in the cloud, updates are in real-time and you don’t have to pass docs around. Popular mind map software includes MindMeister, Mindmup and Miro.
Private Meeting Rooms
As a remote professional during a global pandemic, you’re likely spending your days working from home. But what about those occasional in-person meetings you need to have? Where do you go for those?
Long before the pandemic hit, remote workers, freelancers, independent professionals, startups and microbusiness worked in coworking spaces and flexible office spaces.
Our spaces offer business amenities and collaborative tools, professional networking and collaborative communities. We also offer meeting rooms, day offices, media rooms, private offices and dedicated desks. If you’re burned out on working from your kitchen table, or can’t get a moment of silence to focus on your work, or need a place to have one-on-one meetings, find a location near you.