As more and more teams adjust to working remotely, we’ve been relying on technology to help us to keep work going — even when we can’t be in the same physical space.
Today, we wanted to share our remote work tech stack: the tools that have been helping us to continue working without interruption behind the scenes. Some of them we’ve been using for years; some of them have been on our radar for a while but we’re only fully utilizing them now.
We think this is a good place to start when you’re looking for remote work software that helps you to continue to cooperate, collaborate, and communicate as a team.
Here are the top 10 tools we recommend for remote work.
1. A project and work management tool
This one is a no-brainer. When your whole team is working remotely, it’s more important than ever to be able to track your project’s progress, see which tasks you should be focusing on, quickly assess who’s working on what, and discuss work in context.
And just because your team is decentralized doesn’t mean your work has to be. Having one shared central place for all of your work is especially essential in times like these, because it means you have one single source of truth for all of your work, can minimize time spent switching between (and searching in) different apps, and means that your whole team can work together in real time.
We recommend: Teamwork, of course!
2. A chat tool
When you’re working remotely, lengthy email threads back and forth don’t cut it. Often, you’ll need to have real-time conversations that allow you to make decisions quickly, share info immediately, and get instant input from multiple stakeholders. That’s where a chat or instant messaging tool comes in, allowing you to keep conversation — and progress — flowing.
Pro tip: Finding your instant chat tool noisy and distracting? Don’t be afraid to use the Do Not Disturb feature to help you get into deep focus.
We recommend: Teamwork Chat lets you keep the dialogue going from any Teamwork product, thanks to Embedded Chat. And if new actions arise from any discussions or messages, you can make a Teamwork task directly from a Teamwork Chat message.
We love Teamwork Chat, and will include an honourable mention here for Brosix, but no matter what instant messaging app you use, look for something that integrates with your project management tool so you can make sure it’s working hard for you. (Are you a Slack user? Check out our Teamwork and Slack integration!)
3. A video conferencing tool
Instant chat is super important, but we think it should complement your “in-person” communication, not fully replace it.
So how do you talk “in person” when you can’t talk in person?
This is where video conferencing software comes in. Using a video chat tool for meetings or one to ones can help to facilitate more productive, empathetic conversations, keep your team connected, and restore some of the human element you might currently be missing.
Pro tip: It doesn’t have to just be for meetings — try using your video chat tool to have a virtual coffee sync with a colleague or a group lunch with your team (and talk about something other than work).
4. A screen recording tool
Sometimes, it’s easier to show rather than tell. With a screen recording tool, you can record exactly what you want to show someone, and talk them through it as you do.
No matter what you’re trying to explain or share — from a bug you found to a walkthrough of some data — a screen recording leaves less room for misinterpretations, saves you the hassle of typing out convoluted emails to get your point across, and lets you explain and share things quickly, easily, and on your own time (no need for anyone to drop what they’re doing and jump on a call!).
5. A design prototyping tool
Share your vision with a design prototyping tool that lets you mock up samples, leave comments, and collaborate on your design work. Adding a design prototyping tool to your remote tech stack lets you see and share your design ideas before you start implementing them, so you can get the feedback you need, save time on designer-dev-stakeholder back and forth, and keep everyone on the same page.
We recommend: Abstract.
6. A file sharing tool
No tech stack — remote or otherwise — would be complete without a file sharing tool.
We’re sure that whichever file sharing app your organization prefers, it has a fundamental role to play in your everyday workflow: from sharing documents in progress to transferring large files like videos easily.
We recommend: We like Google Drive.
7. A content collaboration workspace
It’s never been more important to have your organization’s SOPs documented and centralized. With a content collaboration workspace, you can ensure that every employee knows where to go to find important documents like sick leave and healthcare policies.
But it also works for sharing best practices and processes, meaning that teams can quickly find the knowledge they need all in one centralized resource base — without needing another team member to walk them through it.
We recommend: Teamwork Spaces.
8. A tool to help you focus
We’ve talked a little bit about how to avoid procrastination before, but sometimes you need a helping hand to keep you on the right path.
When we asked Teamworkers about the tools and apps they use when working from home, lots of them replied that they use productivity apps — the kind that block distracting websites temporarily — or timer apps to help them stay on track throughout the day.
9. A tool to connect all your other tools
The trick to having a remote working tech stack that actually works for you is simple: everything you use needs to work together.
What you don’t want is a complicated tangle of apps that all require your time and attention, and all need to be updated manually every time you make one change.
Instead, integrate the apps you use every day with your project management (or work management) software, so you can keep everything connected.
We recommend: Some apps were just made to work together beautifully, but even if your favorites weren’t, you can use a tool like Zapier or Integromat to do the heavy lifting for you.
10. The right hardware
This one’s a little different to the other tools on this list, but it came up again and again: noise cancelling headphones.
Whether you’re trying to keep your focus on a call or resist the distracting sounds of your own home (TV, kids, pets, neighbors, that one cuckoo clock you bought as a joke and that now haunts you), noise cancelling headphones help you to block out the outside world and focus on your work, not your environment. (And for that, we are very grateful.)
We recommend: This one’s up to you, but nowadays there’s a pair of noise cancelling headphones for every budget — so you shouldn’t have too far to look.
What tools do you use to help you keep work going when you’re working remotely? Did your favorite make the list? Let us know in the comments.
11. Remote Security
Although advances in online technology is what made remote work possible, it still conceals many threats. Over the past few years, hacker attacks have increased dramatically, and unless you know how to protect your personal information, your remote security can be compromised. Remote security has become so important, that HP have created an entire advertising campaign to show the risks to company security via remote worker hacks. So, how can you ensure online safety? First and foremost, with common sense. For instance, to protect yourself from malware, you need to generate strong passwords, avoid unsafe networks, and always log off websites when you're done using them. Another problematic issue is email phishing. Even if you're super careful about your online safety, you can still fall victim to malware hidden behind a lucrative email offer. Try not to open suspicious promotional emails or messages coming from unknown people.
As well as this you should invest in antivirus software and set up a remote VPN so that your remote employees can log in to the company network safely and securely.
We recommend: It's always a good idea to have a reliable antivirus. Avast and AVG are great options, but the final decision is up to you and your budget.