8 must have tools to work from home

by Wendy Soon on January 9, 2014

iStock_000014120116Small_WFH_bannerWorking from home is an increasingly popular trend. 83% of American employees currently spend at least a couple of hours a day working from home each day, and 66% expect their company to go fully virtual by 2015. The biggest concern and hurdle in a fast switch to telecommuting, is the reduced efficiency of communication through virtual channels. That has resulted in a vast emergence of new technologies that support remote communication, improving communication to that of co-located employees.

Here is a list of tools — both physical and virtual — that you will need to make your WFH life smooth and easy.

 

  1. Hi speed internet. Terribly essential, because the next 5 points rely heavily on the availability of internet.

  2. Asana for project management. Tried and tested, one of the most user-friendly project management tools available. The biggest benefit is that Asana is FREE for small teams, so feel free to use it amongst your small team of employees without having to worry about budget and finances. Chats and the ability to link files within each task allows for good communication, making sure everyone else knows exactly which project/task and file you are referring to. Convenient keyboard shortcuts are also aplenty, which adds a very nice touch to increasing efficiency yet another notch — a big plus for managers and leaders of remote teams. (full review to come later)

  3. Google calendar for scheduling. In theory, any online calendar will work for scheduling meetings and check-ins with the rest of your team and/or your bosses. However, Google calendar is the calendar of choice, due to its ease of use, especially if you already have a gmail account. Also, anything free is always good! Outlook is a good alternative, and may be the only choice, depending on the security options at your company.

  4. Google docs for file sharing. Unlimited space and free. Live updates of the documents also allows for multiple people to be working on the same document without missing out on making sure you are working on the latest version. There are, of course limitations compared to the native program on a PC. Word is fine on google docs, but if you use excel and powerpoint extensively, google docs doesn’t quite support all the fancy possibilities just yet.

  5. Google hangout for calling. Not that I am a proponent of Google, but after testing a couple of video calling services, Google hangout is really still the best. For one, it is able to support videos for >2 people concurrently, without having to pay! Although videos are not essential, I always feel that they add another level of interaction and closeness to whoever you are talking to. That will become increasingly important the more you work remotely, because maintaining connection with your colleagues will be essential in keeping up the camaraderie within a team. Another great function is relatively new in Google hangout — screen-sharing. This is extremely useful if in the middle of the discussion, you decide you need additional visual aid to explain your point. Without the need of setting up an additional tool for screen sharing, you can now do it easily through google hangout (and it allows you to choose the specific screen to share, so no worries about everyone knowing what else you are reading on the internet too!)

  6. Teamviewer for remote control of PC. This is especially useful if you have a physical office with a PC there, but you work from home every now and then. You can create an ID and password, which you can then log in at home to access your documents whenever you work from home — no longer necessary to bring a heavy work laptop home, nor the need to save everything on an online file sharing system like dropbox. Teamviewer is also very useful for extensive screen sharings during remote meetings. To enhance the experience, you can even assign control of your powerpoint slides to someone else (e.g. your boss), so they can also use the slides/mouse to further the discussion like in a co-located setting! Security is also ensured, by having new IDs and passwords generated at every single meeting.

  7. Ergonomic desk and chair. As mentioned in our earlier blog about ergonomics, get a good set of desk and chair so you can be comfortable working. You don’t want to get neck and back pains from bending over the coffee table for long hours. Working from home should be relaxing and comfortable, so invest that money to make sure your body is happy!

  8. Great lighting for great focus. Dim lights are good for romantic moments, but are terrible for working. Despite your PC being lit up, your eyes get tired more easily when using a PC under dim lighting as compared to bright lighting. So don’t just pamper your shoulders and back with an expensive chair — install bright lighting suitable for working so your eyes are well treated too. Great lighting not only reduces the stress on your eyes, they also help to keep you awake and focused, so you can maintain high productivity and get your work completed efficiently.

 

Let me know if these tools are useful to you too, or if you have any more better recommendations, please share them with us in the comments below! :)

 

3 comments on “8 must have tools to work from home

  1. George Cook on said:

    Apart from this great list, another tool which I want to recommend is Proofhub. Suites well for home based work. Explore more at http://www.proofhub.com

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on communication. Regards

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