The Remote Worker’s Toolkit: Working from Home
Are you getting ready to start your first remote job? Remote work is the key to greater freedom and productivity at work, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Working from home requires discipline, tools, and tech savvy that you won’t find in the office. Don’t let that scare you away from finding your dream remote job on Search Remotely, however. While you might not be a pro at working remotely just yet, these tips and tools will help you fake it until you make it.
Top Apps and Tools for Working Remotely
The most productive remote workers use tools to keep them connected, organized, and on track toward their goals. These are the must-have tools for remote workers and the most popular options available today.
Online office suites
Taking the office to the cloud makes it easier to share and collaborate on documents. Microsoft Office Online and Google’s G Suite lead the pack in online office suites.
G Suite users can easily take advantage of Google Drive’s cloud storage, but OneDrive and Dropbox are also respectable options for remote teams.
A must-have for telecommuters who need to access office computers, remote desktop tools let you tap into another computer from a remote location. Windows computers come with Microsoft’s Remote Desktop built-in, but TeamViewer is another popular option.
Team chat apps
Team chat apps like Slack keep colleagues connected throughout the day for quick questions and water cooler conversations. Other than Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Discord, and Chanty rank high among remote teams.
For meetings and face-to-face conversations, remote workers turn to video conferencing apps like Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Google Meet. Slack also has an integrated video chat function.
Project management software
Collaborating on projects from a distance calls for specialized software to keep everyone on the same page (and on deadline). Jira, Trello, Airtable, Asana, and Monday are among the leading project management tools for distributed teams.
To-do list apps
Remote workers also need their own tools for staying organized. Here, Todoist, Evernote, and TickTick save the day with simple to-do list apps to keep you on task.
Time management apps
Whether you struggle with procrastination or need to track billable hours, time management apps like Harvest, RescueTime, and Focus@will help you make the most of your hours at work.
Productivity Tips for Remote Workers
The right tools help remote workers stay productive on the job, but that’s not all it takes to avoid distraction while working from home. Tuning out kids, errands, or a comfy couch requires discipline and time management skills.
Set up a home office
It’s easier to avoid distractions when you’re not exposed to them. Use a spare room, shed, garage, or other quiet space to design a home office where you can focus during business hours.
Stick to a schedule
The biggest favor you can do for yourself as a remote worker is committing to a daily schedule. Designated work hours keep you focused and stop work from creeping into the rest of life.
Batch your work
During the workday, use time batching to take advantage of peaks and valleys in your motivation. Schedule small tasks during times of day when productivity lags and use your most focused hours to tackle big projects.
A productive workday includes breaks to nourish your body and rest your mind. But what do breaks look like when you work alone? In addition to lunch, try taking breaks for stretching, meditation, or to get outdoors.
Staying Connected on a Remote Team
One of the biggest challenges of remote work isn’t staying on task, but rather, staying connected. It’s hard to feel like part of a team when you’re working solo from home, but working remotely doesn’t have to be isolating.
Schedule virtual coffee breaks
Want to catch up with a colleague? Schedule a virtual coffee break to meet over Zoom or get the team together for a virtual happy hour. Non-work rituals like these foster bonding in remote teams.
Swap phone calls for video
If you have a question that can’t be answered over chat, skip the phone call and meet colleagues via video chat. Holding meetings face-to-face opens the door for deeper connection and stops messages from getting lost in translation.
Don’t let a lack of visibility leave your team feeling unappreciated. Set up a Slack channel for acknowledging accomplishments and milestones as a simple way to boost morale.
Cybersecurity While Working from Home
There’s one more big thing you have to worry about when working from home, and that’s cybersecurity. Without a dedicated IT team, remote workers are vulnerable to data breaches and other cyber attacks. Protecting yourself and your company from cybercrime requires a proactive approach.
Encrypt your connection
Remote workers should avoid working on public Wi-Fi networks and instead set up a WPA2 encrypted network with a strong password. If you do connect to open Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network, or VPN.
Use strong passwords
Speaking of strong passwords: it’s important to not only use them, but to change them regularly. The best way to do this is with a password manager so you don’t have to remember a dozen unique passwords.
Install antivirus software
Antivirus software protects your computer from viruses, malware, and ransomware. After installing an antivirus solution, be sure to keep it updated to prevent vulnerabilities.
Update programs and systems
Antivirus software isn’t the only thing to keep updated. It’s also important to keep software, web browsers, and operating systems up-to-date so you always have the most secure version.
There are lots of skills to master when you start working remotely, from how to stay focused when kids are clamoring for attention to how to keep your data safe without an IT guy on-call. But once you make the switch to remote work, you’ll be happy you did. While there’s definitely a learning curve, there’s also a lot to gain when you leave the commute and cubicle behind.