Remote Working Tools

Desktop screen

Hardware to help you work at home.

When you work in an office, your employer typically provides you with several company devices. For example, a lawyer at a law firm might receive a company phone, a laptop, and monitors.

If you’re an organization that employs individuals who are working from home, you may consider providing your people with simple hardware devices to help them do their job as efficiently as possible. If you’re an independent contractor—or your employer doesn’t provide these tools—you might consider investing in these resources yourself. 

Examples of helpful hardware include: 

  • Webcam—When you work from home, video chats become a common way to communicate with your team (as discussed below). Investing in a webcam ensures everyone can see one another. 

  • Microphone—If you’re constantly repeating yourself because your colleagues can’t understand you, your meetings aren’t going to be productive. Inexpensive USB microphones or headsets can make a big difference, reducing background noise and enhancing clarity. 

  • Desk chair—If you’re going to be sitting at home all day, you need an ergonomic chair to support your posture and keep you comfortable. 

  • Desk lamp—In addition to preventing eye strain when you’re reading paper documents, a desk lamp is a helpful tool to light up your face when you get on a video chat with colleagues or clients. 

While some of these items might require a bit of an investment, they’ll pay for themselves by making you more effective and efficient while working from home. 

Software for effective collaboration.

When you work from home, you lose the opportunity to pop into your neighbor’s office to ask a quick question, but by integrating a few helpful tools into your arsenal, you’ll be collaborating like a pro in no time. 

Document storage.

When you work in an office, you often have a centralized server that stores your organization’s documents. Usually, you’ll access the server through your company computer. When working from home, you might need to find another way to share crucial documents with the rest of your team. 

Programs like Dropbox, Google Drive, and GitHub allow teams to share documents on the cloud. Instead of going into the office or waiting for a team member in another time zone to send you what you need, you can browse the cloud drive. We suggest coming up with a standardized naming and filing system, so your team is always on the same page. Make your shared drives as intuitive as possible. 

VPNs.

One alternative to cloud storage solutions is to set up a virtual private network (VPN), where your company’s personnel can access a private server remotely. By using a VPN, you can access your business’s server from anywhere in the world, just as if you were in the office. Popular VPNs include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark. 

Online chat.

If you want to ask a quick question without the formality of an email or the intrusiveness of a phone call, online chat is a perfect way to get a colleague’s attention. Free options like Google Chat might be all you need for your team. Other companies may opt for more comprehensive options like Microsoft Teams. 

If you’re looking for a solution that creates a historical record of your conversations, try Slack. Online chat is an effective way to keep everyone in the loop and foster a sense of community. Plus, it’s a great way to communicate quickly if you’re already on a conference call. Chat’s versatility makes it an essential tool when working from home. 

Voice and video calls.

If you work from home every day, you might start to miss the social interaction in a typical work environment. Consider using video chat to interact with clients, peers, and supervisors. 

With video chat, you get the benefit of facial expressions and body language, which can minimize misunderstandings. Plus, you’ll develop more of a connection if you see one another on video instead of communicating only through instant messaging or email. 

Video chat is also an effective way to tackle complex problems that might require a bit of explanation. Many video chat programs let participants share their screens and walk the other attendees through documents, websites, or other software programs. Some services also allow question moderators, in-chat polls, and downloadable recordings once the meeting ends. 

Popular video chat programs include Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. 

Asynchronous tools.

Working from home is fantastic because it allows employees to tackle challenging tasks when they’re at their best. Night owls, early birds, and parents who need to pick up their kids from school can structure their workday to satisfy their needs. 

Asynchronous work occurs when your people log on and complete their work at different times of the day. Especially if you have a distributed team that lives across various countries, you’ll likely have some mismatch as to when people are working. 

Contrary to what you might think at first, asynchronous is an asset, not a problem. When individuals choose when to work, they’ll be more focused, productive, and content. Plus, your organization can accomplish more than a typical company where everyone works in an office at the same time. An employee in South America might pass a project to someone in Asia, who then sends it on to a colleague in Europe. In 24 hours, your team can finish much more than was previously possible. 

However, to unlock the benefits of asynchronous work, you’ll need comprehensive asynchronous tools to help keep your team organized. Especially when you have a large number of projects or personnel, keeping everyone on the same page is essential. With asynchronous tools, you can create, assign, track, and deliver projects with ease. 

Productivity tips for working from home.

Working from home eliminates the commute and can simplify your life. However, if you’re not careful, you might get distracted. Here are several productivity tips to keep you at the top of your game.

  • Take breaks—While it may seem counterintuitive, many of the top performers take more breaks than their less effective counterparts. Try to get up and move throughout the day, doing some light stretching or walking around to get the blood flowing. If you want some structure in your day, consider adopting a productivity schedule like the Pomodoro Technique

  • Create a schedule—While working from home allows for a flexible schedule, implementing a routine can help you be more productive. Consider alternating between blocks of exercise, rest, and uninterrupted work time. 

  • Turn off notifications—When you start a block of work, consider turning off your notifications or, switch off your phone. 

  • Learn to sign off—When you work at an office, you’re able to mentally leave work when you physically head home. If you work from home, you’re always in your office. Try to take the time to relax and recharge at the end of the day. There will always be another email to answer, but it can often wait until the next morning. By prioritizing your health, you’ll end up being more productive in the long run. 

Make working from home work for you.

Are you ready to start integrating working from home into your professional life? Whether you’re a worker or an organization, working from home is a great way to increase productivity and employee happiness. By applying the tips outlined in this article, you’ll start reaping the benefits of remote work.

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