Working from home is no longer an unattainable dream or a privilege reserved for the few creative professions. These days, thanks to the steady flow of technological advances and innovations, a lot of us have the option to pursue a remote working career.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have been forced to devise ways of integrating remote work options into their systems. So, unless your job post requires you to be available physically, working from home is always an option.
There are a lot of benefits that come with working from home. For one, you as an employer have the opportunity to scale your workforce without having to worry about the workspace. As for the employees, they won’t have to commute every day, which saves them a lot of time, money, and energy.
Fortunately, there are lots of digital tools available that can help make this transition smoother. In this article, we will look into several apps that can make working from home easier and more efficient.
Team communication is probably the first you will need to take care of. When you can’t see your colleagues face to face, communicating your ideas and getting feedback on assignments may be challenging at first. Instead of going for a quick meeting or simply stopping by the needed cubicle, you will need to iron out the details remotely. Email may be the most obvious way of exchanging information, but it’s hardly the most effective or convenient — especially if you need to talk to a lot of people and exchange several updates.
Slack can be very useful in this situation. The app can be used by both large teams and for managing individual projects. What’s more, it makes collaboration across remote distances much easier by letting teammates easily exchange ideas, share files, images, and more. Slack comes complete with video calling and file sharing features. Aside from that, you can integrate the tool with other popular applications like Screenrecorder.work This way, you can increase efficiency by using a combination of tools for communicating remotely.
In some remote positions, you will still need to attend a generous number of meetings and even make presentations. Doing all of this via messaging apps, though possible, is hardly the best way to brainstorm or get your ideas across. Just think of all the typing that would involve.
This, if your position requires participating in a lot of meetings and presentations, an app like Zoom can really come in handy. Zoom is designed to facilitate holding meetings and presentations remotely and is currently the number one teleconferencing tool worldwide.
The app includes features like real-time chat, video recording, screen sharing, calendar integrations, virtual background, touch-ups, and more. Thanks to Zoom’s extended functionality, it does a very good job of offering an efficient and time-saving alternative to face-to-face meetings.
Just like a traditional office meeting, Zoom meetings are only open to those invited. This ensures total privacy, especially when you have a lot of departments set up in your virtual office.
Time management and time accountability can quickly become two of the most pressing issues you can encounter when working from home — especially in the beginning stages. You may find it hard to manage distractions and interruptions or finding the right setting to focus on the task at hand. Your client or employer, on the other hand, may be worried about the practice of time theft (when an employee is getting paid for the time that they are not actually working) and have a hard time finding a solution for how to monitor remote employees.
One way to tackle this problem is to use time tracking and management apps. You can check out Traqq, which is a little bit of both. The app can help you get a better grasp of how you are spending your time, allowing you to complete assignments more efficiently. Traqq can also help you build trust with employers and clients as they will be able to keep an eye on your progress in real time and even get screenshots from your computer screen (should you both choose to have this option enabled).
As an employer, this tool allows you keep track of all tasks being performed by your employees. The amount of time worked per day will also be shown, which might be quite important in your assessment process. For instance, if you’re looking to include overtime payments, this would be the best app to show who does or doesn’t qualify.
Google Drive (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, etc.)
Another must-have for remote workers, whichever field you may be in, is an efficient platform for storing, sending, sharing and collaborating on different types of files. Google has a comprehensive system of applications and extensions in place just for this purpose.
Most of us are already well familiar with the Google interface and a lot of companies and individuals choose to use Gmail as their primary email client. So, using the other components of Google’s ecosystem for remote working will be an easy transition to make. This includes Google Drive for storage (with 15GB free), Google Docs for creating, sharing and editing text files, Google Sheets for creating and sharing tables and Google Slides for collaborating on presentations.
All these components put together ensure that all your work-from-home tasks flow smoothly. For instance, if you’re working on a written project, every authorized member can make changes to the document whenever required. The good thing is that these changes are traceable, so everyone will know who made them.
Another thing most people working from home have to look into at one point or another is how to boost productivity when working remotely. Losing focus and the inability to concentrate are some of the most frequently quoted problems for those starting out to work primarily online. If you find it hard to stay concentrated in a homey environment or end up getting distracted quite a bit throughout the day, consider trying out Focus Booster.
Focus Booster is a simple and lightweight app that lets you explore the productivity benefits of the famous pomodoro technique. Using this tool, you can break down your working day into 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks. The app comes complete with a small and unobtrusive timer that will help you monitor your progress and motivate you to stick to your short-time goals. It will also create automatic time sheets, analyze your productivity cycles, share tips on how to stay more efficient and more.
This is not at all an extensive list of helpful tools that you can find online to make your transition to a remote working structure easier. You may also want to check out apps like Pocket, Mural, GutHub, Yammer, Grammarly, Trello and lots of others. Each of these can enhance your remote working experience with simple yet very useful functionality.
With that, we believe that the list above gives you a solid place to get started from and is enough to help you address some of the most frequently encountered challenges of working from home.