Whether you're freelance or in a full-time job, more and more of us are getting the opportunity to work remotely these days. But while working from home, the pub, or even the beach is awesome, some things can be tricky to manage when you're not physically next to your colleagues.
Thankfully, there's a ton of software available, much of it free, to help plug the gaps and make our remote lives easier. In this post, we list 10 of the best tools for working at a distance.
1. Google Drive
If you haven’t discovered Google Drive yet, where have you been? It’s a full software suite in your browser, for free. Write and edit Google Docs wherever you are; upload pictures and video; store and share them with others. Whatever you want to do, there’s either an inbuilt feature or third-party plugin for it, and it all ties in with your Gmail and Google Calendar nicely.
Skype has been the go-to app for voice and video chat for some time. And while there might be others that are more technically impressive, or even simpler to use, the sheer ubiquity of Skype (which most new users now discover through Facebook) means that it’s still the easiest way to keep in touch with clients and collaborators remotely, at zero cost.
While Skype’s still the standard for one-to-one remote conversations, when three or more need to get together for a chat, Google Hangouts provides a simple way to do so. Only a few years ago, you'd have had to pay big bucks for such sophisticated video-conferencing features; now they're totally free. Incredible.
If you haven’t used Slack yet, you soon will. This communication and collaboration tool is winning friends everywhere, because it can do so many versatile things. You can hold conversations that are open to others or private; organise and prioritise conversations based on topic or project; share files; connect up your favourite tools; search the archives later for things you’ve forgotten… the beauty of Slack is that it brings everything you need together in one place.
If you need to manage a team remotely, you need a decent tool to help you. Trello helps you let everyone know what they need to do through a system of task cards and checklists. You can assign tasks, deadlines and projects to individual members of the team, keeping everyone accountable, plus the ability to upload files from Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and Box helps to keep everything running smoothly. Best of all, Trello is easy to use and has a great mobile app.
Miss being able gather round a whiteboard and swap ideas with colleagues in physical space? Deekit provides the next best thing: a virtual whiteboard where your team can draw, write, edit or add other content together in real-time. Helping anyone working remotely to visualise and share ideas with others, this app is free now and, they promise, “free forever”.
It’s great having the freedom to work from home, but sometimes it’s just not practical, and some miss the buzz of being in a busy office. So Workfrom exists to helps remote-working creatives discover great workspaces in different cities. Put your details into the search bar and the site will find the kind of place you’re looking for, whether that’s a private co-working space or a cafe with good Wi-Fi.
8. Nomad List
Nomad List starts from the same principle as Workfrom, but rather than sending you to a remote workspace down the road, it can point you to one on the other side of the world. The site is aimed at “digital nomads”, freelance creatives who want to benefit from the portability of their skills by roaming the globe while they work. Its aim is to build up an online community of nomads (it currently stands at 6,851 and counting), and the site provides them with advice, information and a way of socialising and communicating with each other on their travels.
One of the biggest headaches of remote working with creatives and clients around the world is the headache of keeping track of everyone. Are they awake or asleep right now? Is it the end of their day or the beginning? Every Time Zone is a cool web visualisation that makes it all a lot easier to get your head round.
Without the constant interruptions of a busy office, remote workers often forget to take enough breaks. That’s not good for the eyes, the back, the brain or the soul. Take a Break, Please is a simple but potentially life-changing app that reminds you to do so.
Main image courtesy of Adobe Stock