Best Tools & Apps for Working from Home
Whether you work remotely for your side hustle or you have decided to do a little social distancing and work from home, technology has to be your friend, not foe. The keys to successful remote working are a good internet connection and the right combination of apps.
Share the load.
File sharing is critical for exchanging proposals with clients or documents with colleagues. Email attachments are fine for small files and simple items. Don’t be that person that tries to send a huge file through email, only to find out your recipient’s email system can’t manage large files. Your file sharing tool has to be able to handle large file sizes and have security built in. If you need to co-work on documents, check out the Microsoft Office suite of cloud-based apps, and check out Google Drive, DropBox and OneDrive options.
Keep up the chatter.
Messaging services makes it seem like you’re chatting over a virtual cube wall to a co-worker. Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom are all great options. Several of these big name business software vendors are now offering their products for free in response to the spread of COVID-19. Some already offer limited free versions, but now you can find the more robust packages for free or at a discount.
Be video friendly.
Videoconferencing is a way to keep a human touch in place without actually having to touch another human. Be the cool person that turns on their camera first. We need to see reactions, body language, and we need to see smiles. Check out Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Amazon Chime, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts,. Each tool has its own quirks—use the free trials to figure out which works best for you.
Manage your work.
Project management tools track progress, timelines, resource allocations and budgets. They can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or as complex as a customized Smartsheet. Microsoft Planner, Airtable, Basecamp, Trello, Monday.com and Jira are options to check out.
Stay safe and secure.
A VPN, or virtual private network, funnels your data through private, secure servers to keep you anonymous and your data encrypted so that nobody can access it. There are business VPNs and consumer VPNs. CNET has a good article on how to choose the right one for your needs.
For me, I am a Microsoft Office lifer and I’ve just started using Teams. So far I really like it. I also like Zoom and Skype for videoconferencing. Just about every platform has a free trial. You may have to work with a few to figure out which ones are for you. There are lots of sites for reviews online. I like to use CNET, ComputerWorld, and Wirecutter. Be kind to yourself and keep it simple. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the choices out there. Do a little homework and test out a few options. Welcome to the world of remote work.
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