From health concerns to long commutes, there is an increasing number of reasons for employers to enable their staff to work from home. Working from home can be exciting. However, working from home can also be a little intimidating if you don’t have the right tools and processes to help create a successful and productive environment. If you are part of a team, you’ll most likely need more than just email to stay connected and on the same page with projects and deadlines. However, flying solo at home does take an adjustment. Social media and household chores can certainly be tempting distractions. By putting some boundaries around your day, you will easily be productive and efficient – without the commute!
At TeamSlide, we’ve had staff working remotely for five years. We understand the challenges you’re going to face but we also have a toolkit to share. There are many productivity solutions out there, so we have identified our favorite 9 to help you do your best work remotely.
9 Tools for Working From Home
Staying focused while you’re surrounded by things that need to be done around the house, your pets, and even kids can create a distracting environment. Find a place in your home that you can dedicate to getting your work done in. This could be a guest room, the kitchen table, or almost any desk you may have in your house. Clear it of possible distractions, like clutter, and get to work. Here are some tools you can utilize to help you stay concentrated:
- Having some lyric-free background noise can help you stay focused while working from home but most importantly, it can lift your mood! Spotify has some great lyric-free playlists. Check them out here:
- Freedom is an all-in-one distraction blocker. If you know that you may be more tempted to get distracted while working at home, whether it’s by social media, the news, or online games, you’ll want to have a tool in place to help you stay focused. Freedom allows you to block websites, apps or even the whole internet and you can sync these settings across all of your devices. Why Use Freedom?
- Details: Freedom offers a FREE trial that includes 7 distraction-free blocking sessions. Their Premium plan is offered monthly for $7, yearly for $2.42/month (paid at once), or forever for a one-time rate of $64.50.
Bonus: If you sign up for Freedom Premium, get 3 months FREE Todoist Premium and many other perks too!
Since you’re now working in a completely different environment, one that’s typically centered around household needs and personal time, it’s important to have some time management solutions on hand so that you can stay focused. Luckily, there are numerous great time management and productivity tools available. We’ve narrowed down some of the best ones for you to take advantage of:
- Toggl is a subscription-based time tracking software. With just a click of a button, you can easily start timing a task or project. The Toggl Desktop App reminds you when you’re not tracking, or it detects idle time, keeping you accountable. They have over 100 app integrations that put the Toggl button inside your favorite online apps in order to help you keep track of your time or you can opt to manually enter your time at the end of the day or week.
- Details: They offer a free 30-day trial with full access to all of the features. They offer a starter plan for $9/month per user and a premium plan for $18/month per user, all billed yearly. Bonus: Toggl integrates with Todoist (read about this in the next section)
- If you’re in need of the ultimate task manager that can organize it all, you’re in the right spot. This task list manager is especially helpful for creatives, developers, students, small businesses, and freelancers. Todoist creates tasks with due dates (even recurring due dates), organizes tasks into projects, delegates tasks, syncs to devices, and furthermore provides productivity visualizations. It even connects to Google calendar, Dropbox, and more.
- Details: Todoist isn’t expensive, with packages ranging from $0/month up to $5/month per user.
- Have you ever been overwhelmed by the emails bombarding your inbox? So you really only have time to respond to the urgent ones? Boomerang allows you to schedule emails to send at the perfect time, set up snooze messages, add a smart calendar assistant to schedule meetings, and get read receipts. Boomerang is available for Gmail, Outlook, and Mobile.
- Details: They offer a free 14-day trial of Boomerang Professional. They do have a FREE basic plan with limited access to features as well as a few other plans ranging from $5/month to $15/month.
If your whole team is working from home, you’ll undoubtedly need a communication or knowledge sharing tool. Communication solutions today have a vast array of helpful features such as messaging, video calling, file sharing and much more to help you stay connected. Here are some of the most helpful communication platforms:
- This platform offers one organized place for projects, teams, and communication. Basecamp eliminates messy email chains that let attachments consequently fall through the cracks. It allows you to create “Projects” and within each project. You have a lot of features to get work done productively: Message boards, to-dos, schedules, documents, files, group chat, and auto check-in questions. A pretty neat feature is the ability to minimize interruptions by adjusting notification settings to only receive notifications during specific times of the day. That’s a great work-life balance feature! Basecamp also has dozens of app integrations, such as Toggl.
- Details: You can try Basecamp for FREE with a 30-day trial. They offer 2 plans – Basecamp Personal and Business. The Personal plan is free but only allows for up to 3 projects to be created. The Business plan is $99 per month and includes unlimited users, projects and clients. Learn more
- Asana helps you build projects, coordinate tasks, and hit deadlines with your team. It features a Gantt chart timeline, portfolios, workload, forms and automation. Asana helps you visualize your work using boards that are organized into stages, lists, timelines, and calendars. Even more, you are able to assign tasks and even group tasks into sections to match workflows. Asana also provides powerful reports to help you to understand what’s happening in your business. Many well known, large businesses take advantage of Asana.
- Details: You can try Asana for free and then decide if you want to commit to the Basic (Free with limited functionality), Premium ($11/mo), Business ($25/mo) or Enterprise version. Learn More
- One component of remote work that you may not have considered is background noise. Krisp removes the background noise going from you to other call participants and coming from the call participants to you, allowing everyone to have a productive call. Krisp uses the best innovative noise cancellation technology that adds an additional layer between your physical microphone and conferencing apps.
- Details: Krisp offers four different plans. The FREE plan is great for professionals who occasionally work remotely. You can purchase the Pro plan for $5/month and Teams plan for $5/user/month. Krisp’s Enterprise plan is great for call centers and enterprises.
- Microsoft Teams allows you to chat, have meetings, call and collaborate with your team. It’s a great solution for remote work that you can have on all of your devices. Even more, it’s an effective way to host a demo for your potential client as you can easily share your screen over a web conference.
- Details: Teams has a FREE plan (limited functionality) and is $5/user/month with Office 365 Business Essentials, $12.50/user/month with Office 365 Business Premium, and $20/user/month with Office 365 E3.
Working remotely can propel you into increased productivity and efficiency but it can also hinder you if you aren’t prepared to be in a completely new environment. Using tools for time management, concentration, and communication are essential to your success remotely or at home. We hope you can take advantage of some these fantastic tools to boost your productivity when working remotely.