This article has been contributed by Ray Slater Berry.
Remote work is here to stay. Recent surveys have found that nearly 80% of workers say they are more productive when working remotely. Although we may not be going entirely remote in the way we work, elements and options for it will definitely be found more in our day-to-day. So, what does this mean for the way we work and the tools we use?
First thing’s first, we need to be wiser with how we operate if we want to be as productive as we have been in office. New tools are emerging, new business concepts are in full flight, and some old tools that have been around for a while have surged in popularity.
In this article, you’ll find a collection of essential remote work tools to help your team and business operate as smoothly as possible in a remote-friendly world. This is the future of work, and it is here today.
We’ve broken down each section into the best remote tools for creativity, organisation, productivity and communication. Enjoy!
Best Remote work tools for Creativity
Milanote allows creative teams to organize visually. The platform collects everything in one place from to-do lists & notes, to images & videos, or web pages. The cloud-based boards allow you to access your private visual notepad on the go. They’ll also allow you to share your thoughts with your team as you can choose to work collaboratively in one digital workspace.
If you work with content regularly, then Canva is the perfect tool to help you get work done. The tool allows you to build out designs in a drag-and-drop format that doesn’t require any prior design knowledge to understand. Pick fonts, select colors, upload your own images and templates – the choice is yours.
Canva is built for remote teams. You’ll be able to export links to working folders and share them with your team. Host your brand kit within the platform and separate workspaces to your own project where your team can work on visuals together.
Miro is your infinite online white-board. The tool offers a heap of templates to start structuring your board, or you can choose to start from scratch. Miro allows you to work in real-time on the same board as your team, it’s as though you are in the same room.
Integrate files, screenshots, docs, cards, notes, spreadsheets, and more. It’s a fantastic tool for remote teams. It can also bring a great level of organization to those teams that are in the same office and tend to forget the magic they unlocked on the physical whiteboard in the meeting room.
Best remote work tools for organization
Dropbox should need little to no explanation. However, it’s featured here as we think it’s the champion of cloud-storage for remote teams.
Dropbox has been coined as the world’s first smart workspace. The cloud-based storage system will allow you to centralize your team’s content, as well as grant access to internal and external stakeholders via customizable link sharing, admin access controls, and user-friendly apps.
2. Airtable / Asana / Monday / Trello
Good project management is essential for the success of remote teams. You’ll need a tool that will help give you an overview of projects, deadlines, workflows, people… The list goes on. There are a lot of tools out there and each project management tool comes with its own ups and downs. It also comes down to cost, and what you’re in a position to pay for.
We’ve narrowed it down to these four project management tools; Airtable, Asana, Monday, and Trello. Try them all out, test any free trials you can get, and find one that feels right for your team, your needs and your budget.
It’s worth noting that this tool is no longer being actively maintained, so if you do run into any bugs then there’s an exceptionally high chance they won’t get fixed. What is it? Spectacle installs shortcuts to be able to quickly resize your windows.
If you’re known as a bit of a tab collector but are limited to just one screen then this could be perfect for you. You’ll be able to split your screen up easily and quickly so you can focus on the project (or projects!) at hand.
Slite is a knowledge base software that helps to organize and align your team by keeping all of your processes in one place. Look at it as an internal Wiki. It’s a great remote tool for project documentation, employee onboarding, and keeping track of team meetings.
It also comes with a ton of integrations including Slack, Trello, Asana, GitHub and more.
Simple yet effective. As advanced as some of these tools are, there are also some that don’t need to have so many features – they have one job and they do it exceptionally well. Clockify is one of those tools.
It’s great for freelancers, agencies or project managers looking to get a better idea of how their remote team splits their time between projects.
Clockify has a time tracker, timesheet, project dashboard, reporting metrics and a great team overview feature. It’s the perfect remote tool for time tracking and management.
Best remote work tools for productivity
1. Tomato Timer
Familiar with the Pomodoro technique? If you’re not let’s run through it quickly. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that breaks your working day up into bursts of working time and cool-downs – also known as a Pomodoro.
A usual working period is around 25 minutes and a Pomodoro is usually around 3-5 minutes long. This method encourages you to work in sprints and promotes hyper-productivity during your focused time.
Tomato Timer is an online free tool that helps you to manage the Pomodoro method in your own home. It’s a great way to avoid at-home distractions when you’re not in the office or your coworking space.
2. Google Suite / Microsoft Office
Two absolute giants in business productivity have showcased that they’re more than prepared for this drastic shift into remote work that we’ve witnessed in 2020. Once again, this comes down to the type of business you’re trying to create, the preference of your team and the budget you have.
What we will say here is that it’s often the case that Google Suite is favored by more creative or content-heavy businesses. Whereas, Microsoft Office is favored by more financial-forward businesses. However, it’s mostly down to preference and working style.
Maze is a product design tool that lets you test new products, get insights, find a test user-base and analyze UX reports – all entirely online. There’s no need to worry about getting a focus group in the same room, which can be extremely tricky if you’re a distributed workforce.
Also, gone are the days of walking a test group through your product on Zoom or another channel that’s not built to get the results you need.
Maze has taken it a step further and is offering a ton of resources for teams that have gone remote. Anything from how do you write a design proposal, to the best graphic design books to read. You’re not only getting a design tool, but you’re getting a wealth of resources to help you on your journey as well.
Remote or not, this is a tool for anyone that writes a lot in their day-to-day. No matter your education or how much of a writer you consider yourself to be, we are all human and we all make mistaks. Oops, see?
Grammarly plugs into just about every place you would write online, your google docs, emails, comment boxes on social media, the works. It will check your spelling and grammar right through to your tone, possible plagiarism, and can even give suggestions on how you can enhance your writing.
Don’t let going remote stop you from being able to get the documentation you need. Also, don’t let it deter you from signing for things that need your signature. Save paper and go digital with Signaturit.
Signaturit provides legally binding electronic signatures in compliance with e-Signature laws in the European Union and the United States. You can operate as normal, within the new normal.
Just because your team is distributed all over the world, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get access to the talent and resources they need to take their business knowledge to new heights. Growth Mentors is a collection of business mentors from all different walks of professional life.
The platform connects you with experienced mentors that genuinely care about your success. There are no awkward outreach emails as mentors apply to you and the problem you post. Pick a mentor with a rate that fits your budget and book an online session to learn from them.
Remote work tools for communication
1. Zoom / Circles / Google Hangouts
Video conferences were once championed by some and largely hidden territory for many. However, if you’re working in a professional environment, there’s no doubt you’ve had some form of video meeting in the past couple of months.
With a remote workforce, it’s important that we keep our private channels private. So WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, and similar private messaging platforms need to be respected as a place for friends and family.
This has opened the door to video conference platforms and our three favorites are Zoom, Circles and Google Hangouts. As is the case with other times in this article that we’ve rounded up similar platforms, try using each one out, consider budget and find the solution that’s best for your remote team.
A handy widget for any remote worker that’s always on the go. Work from the app or drop the widget onto your home screen to quickly check coworkers’ timezones in relation to your own. It’s the perfect tool for a distributed team and allows everyone to be more conscious of people’s downtime.
VideoAsk is a relatively new tool and has been largely considered as a B2B or B2C marketing tactic. However, it can be a great way to stay connected with a remote team that works across massively different time zones.
Rather than waking up to emails and streams of writing on internal comms platforms, wake up to a video from your colleague and develop genuine working relationships with them.
Loom has coined itself as video messaging for work. So, why is it separate from VideoAsk? There are a few differences. Obviously, we need to take price into account. However, Loom is largely used for longer, in-depth videos and has a great screen sharing feature. Whereas, VideoAsk is more human-to-human, selfie-style videos.
Again, the choice is yours on which one is best for you and your remote business.
Wrap Up Of Essential Remote Work Tools To Try In 2021
I hope you found this article insightful and managed to find some gems that solve just the problem you may be struggling with in your remote business. I’m always on the lookout for new remote work tools to enlighten my working day so please do reach out and share your own with me. See here for a greate remote work guide.
2021 is a big year for the future of work and the remote lifestyle. If you’re ever overwhelmed it’s important to remember you’re not alone and, more often than not, there’s a tool out there that’s just the solution you need.
About the author: Ray Slater Berry is a content strategist at Outreach Humans. He has been working remotely in social media and content marketing for eight years, specializing in the tech, innovation and travel sectors.