If You’re Working From Home, Here Are Some Great Tools to Use

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As public concern for the spread of Coronavirus grows throughout the United States — and with confirmed cases in both Hoboken and Jersey City more and more events are being canceled, colleges and school districts are shifting to online courses, and businesses are encouraging their employees to work from home. If you’re new to working from home, it can be a little bit of a learning curve.

For starters, you may not have everything you normally have access to in the office here at home. Couple that with not knowing which online tools are the best for working remotely and you could really be feeling anxious about this whole setup. {We won’t even get into how to find motivation and the drive to work remotely when there’s a whole world of Netflix right at your fingertips. That’s an article for another day.}

If you’re getting accustomed to all that comes with working from home, one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for remote work success is to be armed with the right tools. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available out there — and bonus: many of them are free! — that make working remotely all the more convenient.

Keep reading for the most efficient tools for working remotely!

working remotely from home tools

Asana

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Working remotely — especially if you and the rest of your office — aren’t used to it can have its own set of challenges. Mainly, getting organized when you’re not all inhabiting the same space is a big one. If you have to ask Sally when her part of a project is going to be ready for you to look over, you can’t walk over to her desk and ask her. That’s why getting organized and having everyone in the office communicate about the progression of tasks is key.

Asana is a project management tool that allows users to organize, plan workflows, and projects to ensure that you’re keeping track of every project in the works. It’s free to use for up to 15 people; once you go beyond 15 users, you’ll have to upgrade to Premium features and pay a monthly fee of anywhere from $10.99 to $24.99 monthly.

Screensharing

During your time working remotely, a moment might come up when you need to share your screen with a coworker, your boss, or a client. Many remote work platforms have this capability, from Skype to Zoom, but if you’re both working with an Apple Mac, you can share your screen without the use of a third-party app.

To start a screen-sharing session with another mac, click Apple Menu > System Preferences > Sharing > Screen Sharing. Then, input the name and address of the Mac you’d like to share with. Now, both of you will be able to see what is on your screen. When you’re done sharing your screen, make sure to quit the screen-sharing session.

Google Hangouts

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It’s 2020 and nearly everyone has a Gmail account. Gmail is not just an email address; the platform provides many different tools that can come in handy when working remotely. Google Hangouts is one of them. To use it, everyone goes online on their Gmail account, then invites each other to a Hangout.

Hangouts are different than many other video-calling services because multiple people can join — up to 150 users can join a Hangout — and the main screen you see focuses on whoever is speaking at that time. So, if you pipe up in the meeting, Google Hangouts will auto-adjust to make sure all of your coworkers see you on their main screen. As soon as someone else jumps in, the screen will then switch to that person.

See More: 7 Tips to Successfully Work From Home

Google Sheets and Google Docs

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Also part of the Google Suite — known as GSuite — are Google Sheets and Google Docs. Sheets are comparable to Microsoft Excel in that it’s a spreadsheet system and Docs is comparable to Microsoft Word in that it’s a document. The main difference is that both of these platforms live online, so unlike a document that is specifically saved to your desktop or your drive, Google Sheets and Docs automatically save on Google Drive. That means it’s accessible with WiFi, from any computer. If a coworker has access to a shared Google Drive, then you can easily share files.

With Microsoft, you’d have to save to your personal drive, then email. But Google Sheets and Docs don’t have to be emailed. Google Drive autosaves it as you go; then, if you have to access it from another computer, it’s there.

This makes accessing Sheets and Docs easy on different computers. If you have to share a Doc or Sheet with someone else from the office, you simply click “Share” and then input the email address you’d like to share it with. Alternatively, you can grab a shareable link and send it; anyone with the link can have access. If you want them to be able to view the document, enable their access to “view only” but if you want them to be able to edit it, too, make sure they have “edit” access.

Skype

skype gif work remotely tools

Skype is a telecommunications application that can be used either on a computer or phone to make free online calls over Wifi, international calls, and to send messages. It’s a type of video call that also has a messaging system built-in. You can use Skype to virtually meet one-on-one with a client or turn a Skype session into a meeting to chat in real-time with coworkers.

Slack

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Slack is a messaging app that can be used either on the computer or via a phone app. Similar to Gchat — a GSuite tool that allows you to ping other users who are also active on their Gmail accounts — Slack allows you to message anyone on the same business channel as you.

Businesses can create a work channel, then create individual channels within the work channel. For example, if you have something called the Chicago Project, you can make an individual messaging channel that solely has to do with the Chicago Project. Add only the people that are on that project and everyone from that project can message about the individual interests of that project.

There’s also a #general channel, where anyone is encouraged to bring up any general concerns. You can really customize Slack to make as many {or as little} channels as you want. Of course, there’s also a one-on-one option to direct message any of your coworkers also in the work channel.

Not to mention, there are some really fun GIFs on Slack, plus the option to add your own GIFs as emojis.

Airtable

Similar to Asana, Airtable is an all-in-one collaboration platform that is equal parts database and spreadsheet. It allows users to create forms, provide updates on different projects, manage tasks, and more to help keep employees in the loop on different projects their coworkers might be remotely working on.

Flodesk

Flodesk is an email marketing platform that many companies can use to keep employees, clients, or users in the loop happenings, or even to create campaigns. The platform offers a variety of different email templates as well, to help users create a more personalized email to send out.

Mailchimp

Similar to Flodesk, Mailchimp is an online email marketing platform that enables users to create a variety of campaigns to send out to a number of subscribers. What’s unique about Mailchimp, too, is that you can customize your subscribers list — users can tailor specific lists to send emails to specific audiences via who has subscribed.

Video Calls

You may be working from home in your sweats, but as we all know, some work tasks need to be done vis-à-vis rather than simply over the phone or Slack. Nowadays, there are many different ways to execute a video call. Most easily for anyone who has an iPhone, there’s FaceTime. If you have a Mac, FaceTime is also available on the computer or laptop. {No need to hold your phone up awkwardly while talking to your boss}!

If FaceTime is not an option, there are plenty of other ways to host a video call. Platforms like Zoom, Free Conference Call, Google Hangouts, and more all provide video-calling services. If you’re desperate, even Facebook now offers video call technology.

Read More: 4 Must-Read Books for Your March Book Binge

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing isn’t much different than a video call; it’s still a meeting done via video call, but it might require more than two participants. For tasks or meetings that require you to look your co-workers, boss, and clients in the eye, check out FreeConferenceCall.com.

Free Conference Call actually offers a variety of different remote work services: audio conferencing, video conferencing, screen sharing, recording options, and as many as 1,000 workers can access it at once.

Virtual Meetings

For virtual meetings that will include more than two people, Monday.com provides a platform where multiple employees can collaborate, manage work, and share files. Similar to Asana, Monday allows you to give live status updates, action items, and share files with team members virtually. There’s no need to hop on a call when you can all be looking at the same screen to get updates on the status of each individual project.

Zoom

zoom cloud meetings work remotely tools

Zoom is another meaningful work-from-home tool that is free and provides services like virtual conference rooms, online meetings and training, video webinars, a phone system, and cross-platform messaging and file sharing. If you prefer to do all of that in one place, Zoom might be the tool for you.

Trello

Trello is a another task management system that enables users to work within a dashboard that allows them to prioritize and organize a variety of projects through boards, lists, and cards. It can help entire teams stay organized and on top of tasks and to-do lists.

What’s your best tip for working from home success? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to share this article with one of your remote coworkers!

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Stephanie Osmanski writes honest things about health, the planet, and being a woman. Her words have appeared on Business Insider, Parade, Eat This Not That, Dogster, Scary Mommy, Green Matters, Parents, Seventeen, Life & Style, InTouch Weekly, and more. Her articles have been syndicated on World Economic Forum, MSN, MSN UK, and MSN Canada. In her free time, Stephanie and her registered therapy dog, Koda, volunteer at local hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.