What Is Remote Work?
Remote work has many different names, such as telecommuting, working from home, or remote working. Regardless of how you call it, this work arrangement is all about employees not commuting to a central place of work.
Of the nearly 2,500 remote workers who contributed to Buffer's annual report, called The State of Remote Work, 99 percent said they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.
Clearly, remote work is an attractive work arrangement, and we can thank modern technologies—mainly the internet—for making it possible. Today, those who work remotely can choose from a broad range of remote working tools to be more productive and efficient.
8 Best Tools for Working Remotely
There are hundreds of remote working tools, but there's no reason to fill up your entire hard drive with them. With the following top 8 tools for working remotely, you'll be able to achieve maximum productivity when working for home and, once and for all, say goodbye to procrastination.
Price: Freemium, from $2.49 a month
Platforms: Web, Android, iOS
Most employees already receive way too many email messages every day, and remote working is guaranteed to increase their number even more. To avoid going insane from endless email notifications, you need an effective email management tool, and that's where Clean Email comes in.
This smart inbox cleaner can quickly segment your messy inbox into relevant groups using powerful filters and rules. You can have a group dedicated to emails from your work colleagues, a group just for the project you're currently working on, and perhaps another group for subscription emails.
To save you time and make your life easier, Clean Email allows you to manage entire groups of emails, and it has a couple of other tricks up its sleeve as well. For example, it can instantly unsubscribe you from unwanted newsletters, and you can also use it to block unwanted senders. You can get started with it for free, so don't hesitate and get your inbox under control.
- Email clean up with only a few clicks
- Straightforward bulk email organization
- Unsubscribe from mass mailings
- Block unwanted senders
- Support for all major email providers
- Free trial version has limited functionality
2. Team Communication: Slack
Price: Freemium, from $6.67 a month
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Web
Everyone who's wondering how to work remotely with a team of people from different parts of the world needs to know about Slack. You can think of this remote working tool as an instant messenger on steroids or as a real-time alternative to email.
Slack conversations happen in dedicated channels, allowing you to separate projects and keep clutter at bay. In addition to sending text messages, users can send files and make voice and video calls. Routine actions can be automated for greater productivity, and more than 2,000 third-party services can be seamlessly integrated with Slack.
- Rich customization options
- Intuitive user interface
- Countless third-party integrations
3. Online Meetings: Zoom
Price: Freemium, from $12.49 a month
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, Web, Android, iOS
Zoom is a modern video conferencing and webinar solution with outstanding user reviews and enterprise-grade scalability. A single Zoom video conference session can include up to 1,000 video participants and 49 videos on a single screen.
Zoom encrypts all video conversations with strong end-to-end encryption to make it impossible for third parties to snoop from a distance. Meetings can be scheduled and started from Outlook, Gmail, or iCal, and they can be recorded locally or to the cloud, with searchable transcripts.
- Relatively affordable compared with other similar products
- Great stream quality
- Plenty of features to play with
- Managing more than a few participants can be a hassle
4. Project Management: Trello
Price: Freemium, from $9.99 a month
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, Web, Android, iOS
Trello is the first remote management software solution we recommend to those who are just starting to work from home and are looking for a simple way to stay organized. It's essentially a digital Kanban board that presents all tasks at a glance and makes it easy to add comments, attachments, due dates, and more.
Tasks can be quickly assigned to different team members, and you can even automate your workflow using Butler, Trello's built-in automation. Smaller teams that can live without priority customer support and advanced features can use Trello for free.
- Easy-to-use Kanban app
- Third-party integrations
- Customizable and flexible
- Limited reporting capabilities
Price: Freemium, from $1.66 a month
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Web, Android, iOS, Chrome OS
Regardless of what your job is, it's only a matter of time before you'll need to share files with your coworkers. Google Drive lets you store up to 15 GB of files in the cloud, allowing you to easily and securely share them with others or collaborate on them with other Google Drive users.
You can also use Google Drive to synchronize files between your devices. To do that, you need to install the Google Drive desktop client and store files in the folder it creates.
- You probably already have a Google account
- Plenty of free storage space for regular use
- Reliable desktop-to-desktop synchronization
6. Time Tracking: Toggl
Price: Freemium, from $9 per month
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Web, Android, iOS, Google Chrome
When working from home, it can be easy to lose concentration and spend more time watching funny videos online than working on that boring PowerPoint presentation your boss asked you to finish by the end of the week. With Toggl, you can track exactly how much time you spend in every application or website. You can then use the gathered data to generate detailed reports that make it easy to see how you can take your productivity to the next level.
Toggl is also great for remote teams since it allows team members to see who is over capacity and who might be able to lend a hand. The free version can be used by up to five users, and it integrates with over 100 third-party apps and services.
7. Screen Recording: Loom
Price: Freemium, from $8 a month
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Web, iOS, Google Chrome
When doing remote work from home, you can’t simply tell your colleague to come over and look at your monitor. What you can do, however, is use Loom to record your entire screen and share the recording via a link. You can even include footage from your webcam to let your colleague see your face while you’re explaining, making Loom an excellent alternative to typing an email or meeting live.
To install Loom, you don’t need administrator privileges because this useful remote working tool is available as an extension for the Google Chrome web browser. The free version lets you save up to 100 recordings, each up 5 minutes long.
8. Password Management: Bitwarden
Price: Freemium, from $10 a year
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, Web, Android, iOS, Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi Browser, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Brave, Firefox
Bitwarden is arguably one of the most useful remote working software tools because you can use it to safely store your passwords and other sensitive data, which can be indispensable when logging in to various online services and company systems. Unlike most other password managers, Bitwarden is open source and audited by an independent third party.
Being a cross-platform application, Bitwarden runs on mobile devices, desktop computers, and even inside your web browser. The free version doesn’t come with any major limitations, but users can upgrade to Bitwarden Premium to unlock 1 GB of encrypted file storage, two-step authentication with a hardware token, and several other useful perks.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Remote Work
Today, 4.7 million of workers in the United States work remotely, which is 3.4 percent of the population. Even before the outbreak of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, called COVID-19, experts had been predicting the number of remote workers to keep increasing at an accelerating rate.
But should you be excited about the opportunity to work from home? To help you answer this question, here are some of the most important advantages and disadvantages of remote working from home.
Flexibility. Without a suited-up manager breathing down your neck and a clock to punch in and out, you can organize your day to suit your needs and personal preferences. Are you a morning person? Then, you can wake up an hour or two earlier and complete most items on your to-do list before your remote coworkers wake up. Remote work from home also gives you the freedom to run errands in the middle of the day, when shops and public services are still open.
Cost savings. For some people, just getting to work can be a large expense, especially for those who live in places with a poor public transportation system and have to drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic every morning. Having to buy formal clothing for which you have little to no use outside of work can be another major expense that can be easily avoided by working from home.
Improved work-life balance. When you work remotely, you have more opportunities to spend valuable time with family and friends. A 15-minute break or just a good hug with a loved one definitely beats gossiping with coworkers in the breakroom or going outside to smoke/vape.
Dependency on technology. It's impossible to work remotely without a computer and at least some remote working tools, such as email. The problem is that you probably don't live with an IT expert, so you're on your own when something breaks or, what's even worse, when you break something. The good news is that computers have never been more affordable and software applications more user friendly.
Limited contact with coworkers. Depending on how well you get along with your coworkers, you might see this point as a huge advantage, but most of those who work remotely have experienced the feeling of social isolation. Interacting with others via email, phone, or video chat can alleviate this feeling, but the fact remains that humans are social creatures who need physical contact with others from time to time.
Procrastination. One of the biggest enemies of those who work remotely is procrastination. When you're your own boss, it's easy to let yourself check social media or watch YouTube every 15 minutes, constantly postponing important tasks. The good news is that there are many scientifically proven tips for beating procrastination, most of which boil down to self-control and discipline.
By equipping yourself with the right remote working tools, you can be just as productive—if not even more—as in your company office while enjoying the numerous benefits of working from home.
Best Tools to Work Remotely - FAQs
1. What does remote working mean?
Remote working means that employees can work from virtually any location they want and not just the office. Most remote workers work from home, which allows them to avoid rush-hour traffic and spend more time with their family.
2. What are the disadvantages of remote working?
Some of the most frequently mentioned disadvantages of remote working include isolation, decreased work/life balance, lack of motivation, personal distractions, and lack of adequate technology at home.
3. How can I improve my remote working?
Believe it or not, but you can significantly improve your remote working experience just by equipping yourself with the right remote working tools, such as the ones listed in this article.
4. Why is it better to work from home?
People who work from home can avoid long commute times, and the financial strain they can cause. They also enjoy far greater flexibility than their office-bound colleagues, both in terms of their work hours and the location from which they work.
5. Are people more productive working from home?
There is a growing body of research showing that people who are working from home are, indeed, more productive than those who work from the office. Of course, that doesn’t mean that working from home is the right choice for everyone since there are many people who can’t stand being isolated from coworkers.
6. How do I manage my team remotely?
With the right remote working software tools, managing a team of remote workers is easy. Tools like Slack can be used to enhance team communication, while Trello and other similar project management software can be used to assign tasks and track progress.