5 Essential Remote Work Tools to Make Your Job Easier
Remote work is on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it may be here to stay. According to Gallup, 62% of employed Americans have worked from home during the crisis, which is twice as many since mid-March 2020.
Whether you’re currently employed or you’re on the job hunt, check out these five technology-based tools that can help you stay effective and maintain relevance in your professional world.
1. Video Conferencing: Zoom
You’ve probably never heard the word “zoom” as much as since the pandemic. Zoom is a free video conferencing tool that has desktop and mobile apps. You can schedule meetings right in the app, record your meetings for future reference and control video and audio settings if you want to mute yourself during a meeting.
Look to Zoom to continue to be the go-to tool for professionals and other types of users, including students in schools. The Verge reports the number of daily Zoom meeting participants has grown from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in June 2020.
Use Zoom for work meetings and for connecting with peers and job leads. If you want to have long group meetings, look into paid options.
2. Networking: LinkedIn
Pew Research Center reports 27% of American adults used LinkedIn, a professional social networking site. What may be even more important? How many recruiters use LinkedIn: 90% of them, according to Kinsta.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, now’s the best time to create one. With economic uncertainty, having a presence on the site ready to share can be good if job loss hits.
A LinkedIn profile also helps you reconnect with past coworkers and start building an online network. You can keep an eye out for job opportunities, join industry groups to establish thought leadership and follow relevant news to keep tabs on your industry.
Build out your LinkedIn profile with recommendations. Learn how to ask for LinkedIn recommendations and how to write them for others.
3. Task Management: Trello
You may already be familiar with Trello if your business has used it for project management. Trello is a digital task tracker that enables teams to gain visibility into who’s working on what part of a project and what tasks are completed and are still in progress.
Even if you’re not required to use it for work, Trello can also be helpful for remote workers who want to stay on track with work and need to organize all that’s on their plate. You can use Trello to add “cards” that have your assignments on them. As you complete work, you can move each card into a completed section.
Creating to-do lists in a task management app like Trello can help you be more productive. A report by “Fast Company” confirmed psychological studies have found to-do lists help with organization and productivity. By breaking down big projects into manageable tasks, you can stay focused and celebrate achievements, which creates momentum to complete more tasks.
If you’re finding that you’re not completing as much work at home as you would at the office, try a task management system like Trello to see how it affects your attention and production.
4. Document Storage: Google Drive
When you’re collaborating remotely, you might have to store large files. Dropbox is one option, but Google Drive may be more advantageous depending on the tools you’re already using.
For those who are already familiar with the Gmail interface, Drive is a natural extension. You can see documents you’ve added, see documents that are shared with you and switch easily between recently accessed docs and folders.
You also get 15GB of free storage with Google Drive, compared to Dropbox’s 2GB of free storage. From Drive, you can create online spreadsheets, documents, slideshows and forms that are all saved in the cloud. That’s pretty convenient compared to saving documents in completely separate apps.
5. Time Management: Smartphone / Smartwatch Timer
Do you find yourself taking breaks every 5 minutes while working from home? That’s not good for productivity.
By working and taking breaks according to your body’s natural energy levels, you can get more work done and maintain focus.
An “Inc.” article reports the body goes through alternating periods of high-frequency brain activity for 90 minutes, followed by lower-frequency brain activity for about 20 minutes. You can match your work schedule to your body’s natural rhythms by using your smartphone or smartwatch timer to block out 90 minutes of work time, followed by a well-deserved 20-minute break.
The idea is to commit to 90 minutes of straight work, no distractions. After that, you can take 20 minutes to do what you want: take a walk, grab a snack, scroll through email, whatever, before you start your next distraction-free work session.
Try it yourself. Knowing you have a nice break after those 90 minutes may make your more effective than ever. You can also experiment with different times and shorter breaks using your smartphone timer to find your sweet spot.
Put Technology to Work to Enhance Your Technical Skills
If your resume’s technical skills section is a little sparse, learning new technology during this period of remote work can help. You’ll become more familiar with technology tools future employers might use, and you can also improve the amount of work you get done and what you accomplish.