With Covid-19 forcing many businesses to quickly move their team to a completely remote setting, this virus will change the way we work from now on. Even before the pandemic, 4.7 million people in the US worked from home. According to a study done on the increase of remote work, in the span of one year, from 2016 to 2017, remote work grew 7.9%. We can use this time to learn the skills and software that go along with working remotely, making ourselves even more irreplaceable as the need for people who can productively work from home increases.
So, whether or not your team is going remote for a while until the storm of this pandemic blows over, or you know you would like to be able to self-dictate your work hours and location, here are some tips and tools to making remote work a success.
5 Necessary Tools
There are a number of important tools to master when working remotely. Here are some of the most common and universal tools. (The Meratas team uses these!)
Slack- Sure we’ve all got an email account, but it's only a matter of time before an important email gets mixed in with all of the unnecessary ones. To stay connected with your team in real-time and make sure you don’t miss a message use a collaboration tool like Slack or some other kind of messaging board. With 10+ million daily active users, Slack is where more work happens every day, all over the world. The great thing about Slack is that you can also connect it with other apps such as Twitter, Hubspot, Zoom, Zapier, Github, and many others. These integrations allow your team to bring all of your data and conversations into one place for better collaboration.
Zoom- Zoom has seen daily users quadruple since the pandemic and for good reason! It is the number one video conferencing tool.You can’t just rely on phone calls to keep in touch with your team high-quality video conferences are a major necessity when working remotely. My favorite thing about this tool is screen-sharing. You can record a video of your screen with Loom, but nothing beats being able to share your screen in real-time with your team or even a potential customer.
G Suite- Whether its an article, spreadsheet, or presentation creating them in a cloud based tool makes collaboration and sharing 10 times easier. When you’re sharing files back and forth through email, hard drives become filled with exotically re-named updates to stuff you’ve been working on as a team. Plus their software is all free to use. Learn more here! With Google Sheets, slides, and docs, all able to save to one shareable Google Drive, think of Google as a fancy filing cabinet! If you’re looking for something to get extra creative with and create visual content such as social media images, flyers or e-books check out Canva.
Toggl- If there was ever a time to boost your personal work ethic and accountability, it’s now. A simple time-tracking tool that also has tracking reminders and idle detection to supercharge your productivity. You can see what tasks take you the longest and what is the best use of your time. If you’re more of a checklist person check out Todoist. This app helps me stay on track and keep everything organized and accounted for. Its also easy to view how much time your teammates are spending on projects and keep notes on what you’re specifically doing so your teammates can keep up!
Notion- I’ve found this to be the best note-taking app. Since I can also have it downloaded on my phone, I can keep track of all my thoughts in one place. Not only can you take notes but you can also keep pictures and online articles archived to come back to them at any time. When your remote team uses many different tools it's hard to keep all of your information organized. With Notion you can clip different web pages and collaborate seamlessly. Remote work demands transparency so people don't duplicate work or go in the wrong direction.
Tips For Staying Productive
Here are some tried and true tips to stay at maximum productivity levels while working from home.
This one is specifically for working with your existing team that is going remote. If your company has moved remote quickly during this unprecedented time, it can take a while to acclimate to communicating with your team solely over the internet. The best way to make sure you are staying your most productive while everyone is working remotely is to communicate way more than you think you might need to.
Of course, don’t ask unnecessary questions. If your question could be answered by Google, then by all means type it into the search bar. But,if you don’t understand a project your boss gave you to do, ask questions until you have a solid understanding of your boss’s vision for the project. Also be aware of the time you’re sending emails or questions. It can be easy for your email to get lost with the slew of emails your coworkers may receive in the morning, so if at all possible just send it out first thing in the morning.Make a schedule and stick to it
No two people work the same way, but I’ve found it a lot easier to work when my day is scheduled on a calendar. Your schedule should also try to take advantage of the core time at which your productivity peaks. It’s your job to find out when that is, be it morning, noon, evening or night.
Use time to your advantage.
Having trouble focusing? One tactic many people have used to stay concentrated (especially while working remote) is to use the Pomodoro Technique. Set a stopwatch for 20 minutes then take a 5-minute break after the time has elapsed. When the 5-minute break is up, start again for another 20 minutes. This helps provide some rhythm to your work and is a good way to break up your work into 20-minute intervals.Use Your Support Network
Whether it be family, friends, or coworkers, remember, you’re part of a larger network ready to support you. Let them know about the projects you’re working on so they can offer advice, cheer you on, or help you stay on track. If you’re working on a project that is especially challenging, leaning on your support network can make even the most difficult tasks manageable.
Combining studying (or remote working) with your home life can at times be tough. If you feel like you’re getting a bit bogged down by the juggling act, don’t forget to give yourself a break. Leave your room or office and get some fresh air and sunshine. Having spaces that are strictly designated for working and others strictly designated for unwinding can also help encourage you to rest.
5 Bonus Tools
Below are some resources on staying connected and growing your network while working remote as well as informational material.
Pajamas.io - If you’re looking for something to listen to in your spare time or wind-down while also hearing from people who have figured out how to make remote work, well, work; check out Pajamas. The interviews explore new perspectives and advice on how others manage remote work and teams. Plus, How do you not love something called Pajamas?
Workfrom- Workfrom is revolutionizing the remote workforce by helping those who work from home fight isolation, share resources, and build community. It’s like Yelp but specifically for freelancers and remote workers. You can find the best public spaces for work like coffee shops, cafes, and libraries or paid, private coworking spaces that give you a more private, predictable work environment. You can also filter for things like reliable WiFi, outdoor/indoor, quieter and food.
Nomad List - Although now is not a great time to travel, I enjoyed seeing this list of exotic places that is a reminder of the included perk of remote work: working from absolutely anywhere. With places rated on their safety, internet signal, cost, fun, and “Nomad rating” there’s something for everyone. You can even view who’s planning on being in a certain country at a specific date. Although traveling isn’t looking promising in the near future, it is rather fascinating to view all the beautiful places on this website.
Remote OK - This job board is made specifically for someone looking to work from anywhere. I promise you won’t be disappointed if you’re on the job hunt. It's the biggest remote job board on the web making it a great go-to site if you’re looking for a new job. You can filter by non-tech, design, marketing, customer support, web development, and even top remote companies to work for. Also their weekly job digest is fantastic to have in your inbox if you’re considering a remote job anytime soon.
The Remote Work Report - Whether you need to convince someone that remote work isn’t all distractions and dog hair or just want to know some interesting information on remote work check this resource out for up to date articles and guides about remote work.
Remote work is here, and here to stay. Change takes time to get used to, but remote work can be just as productive if not more than working from an office. If you're curious how remote ready your organization is you can take this 3-5 minute assessment from Toptal.