Tools, Apps & Strategies for Remote Success

Whether it's the coronavirus or a simple snow day has caused the office to close, more workers are working remotely. Today we'll look at some tools that make that easier.

What are some basics that people need to be able to work from home?

Beyond a computer and an internet connection, you'll want a way to work on your current projects.

We tend to use a lot of Google Docs at our business, so accessing those documents and spreadsheets from home is easy. For PC based companies, Microsoft 365 offers similar functionality, although there's a monthly user fee, which would most likely be picked up by your company.

Another option is putting your files in the cloud, using something like DropBox.

How can we stay in touch with our co-workers?

I'd recommend a video conferencing tool like Zoom, Skype, or GoToMeeting. All three of these allow for screen sharing, which may be very important for some people. Zoom and Skype both offer free versions.

I'd also recommend having more than one option.

These seem like options anyone can roll out. What apps or programs should companies consider for all their employees who may need to work remotely?

Many companies like Slack, which is an instant messaging tool and used in many corporate environments for internal and remote employees.

For managing projects, companies may want to look at a tool like Asana, which allows people to manage projects with people from all over the world. Teamwork, Trello, and Basecamp are good alternatives to these tools.

If you have a secure network, your IT team will need to set up something like VPN so remote workers can access the company servers while not in the office.

It sounds like you're used to working remotely, what advice do you have for people who are working remotely for the first time?

Hide the TV remote. Hide the snacks. Get outside a couple of times during the day for fresh air. Walk the dog. Close the door behind you and make sure your housemates know that you're working.

I also heard about an interesting app called FocusMate which pairs you with another remote worker so that you have accountability for getting your work done. And there's an app called Focus@Will which is “scientifically proven” to give you 4x productivity…but I'm fine with downbeat radio on Apple Music or any of the Focus playlists on Spotify…as long as you have the commercial-free version. There's nothing more jarring than an ad in the middle of your focus music.