The Tools You Need To Set Yourself Up For Remote Work Success
By: Mollie Kane | March 26, 2020
The concept of remote working has seen an increase in the last few years, well before the necessary remote working environments associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the State of Remote Work 2019 survey by OwlLabs revealed that 54% of U.S. workers are working remotely at least once per month with 30% working remotely full-time. When it comes to corporate executives, 18% of those surveyed are working remotely than on-site.
Of course, these statistics came out prior to the current global pandemic, meaning now more than ever, employees are working remotely. For the teams not used to being distributed, now can be a very confusing and uncomfortable time, but we’re fortunate to be living in an age of evolving technology. From headphones to Trello boards, there are a variety of tools — physical and digital, that will set you and your team up for remote success.
The Digital Tools To Download & Use As A Remote Worker
Slack is a digital communication tool that is great for remote teams of any kind. Slack allows all of your team’s communication to live in one place but organized into separate channels to ensure there’s no confusion on conversation topics like water-cooler chatter. Providing a channel for random, non-work related chatter allows for better connections, higher levels of trust, and overall more productivity. Also allowing voice and video calls, team members can easily hop into a call and have a conversation as you would in an office setting.
There is also the ability to have constant communication with not only your own team members but teams at other companies with shared channels. This is a paid feature of Slack in order to create shared channels and invite guest users.
Since constant availability isn’t realistic, Slack makes it easy to communicate your status with the use of emojis. At Aimtal, we use some custom and some prepopulated status’ to display our availability, including:
This one-stop-shop for communication will help remote teams everywhere stay in touch and do their best work, together.
Trello is a digital, Kanban-style list-making app that helps to organize plans or projects, ensuring full communication and transparency of all work. Think of it as a virtual whiteboard that everyone on your team can see, allowing for projects to be broken down by tasks, each with individual due dates. With several Butler automations and Power-Ups, your board can be personalized to fit you and your team’s personal needs, no matter what size company, making staying productive simple. Trello makes it simple for teams to collaborate while staying organized and in control of every and any task.
Zoom Video Communications is a remote conferencing service that makes audio conferences, webinars, videos, and chat simple and reliable. When it comes to remote work, a dependable video communication app is imperative to staying connected. For newly dispersed teams still quite uncomfortable with the idea of remote work, staying on video while working through the day provides a sense of community that remote work otherwise lacks.
Simply “hopping on a call” to talk through a problem or idea gives employees the ability to have a face to face style conversation in which they can express emotion and share their tone of voice.
Google Docs provides a space not only to create incredible projects but for team members to comment and communicate with one another. From smart editing to revision history and collaboration, Google Docs make it easy to work together as a team to complete a project, no matter where you are. This even includes a mobile version that allows offline usage, so there is no excuse for not staying connected.
The Hardware You Need While Working Remotely
While everyone has a different workspace setup preference, the one thing to remember is the importance of having it resemble an office setup. This means you should avoid your bed or couch. A clear divide between where you relax and work will not only increase productivity but will help you get a good night’s sleep. Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Being More Productive explains:
Unless you are careful to maintain boundaries, you may start to feel like you’re always at work and losing a place to come home to.
Learn to associate this designated space with work and it will become a place of productivity that you have the ability to leave at the end of the day and show up to the next morning.
Headset or Airpods
A headset or good pair of Bluetooth headphones such as AirPods are necessary to maintain a constant flow of communication. From webinars to audio conferences, a headset or headphones with an attached microphone is your main way of communicating your thoughts and emotions with both team members and clients.
Whether you’ve mastered the art of deep work sessions or not, when you’re working from home, noise-canceling headphones become more necessary. That could be because you live in a major city surrounded by constant car horns and shouting pedestrians. Or, in a suburban neighborhood with dogs and a neighbor who seems to use his leaf blower more than necessary. The ability to slip into an uninterrupted, quality work session while working from home is important, and noise-canceling headphones can do wonders for you.
Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard, And Laptop Stand
These tools are not only necessary to do your job but to do your job well, providing ergonomic benefits as well as just making it easier. When it comes to the laptop stand, the greatest benefit is bringing your laptop up to eye level, helping to correct your sitting position and bend in the neck. A small 15-degree bend in your neck doubles the weight our head has to support from 12 pounds to 27 pounds, that fact alone is enough to use a laptop stand ASAP.
A monitor, mouse, and keyboard that are comfortable to use and function well are an obvious necessity for doing remote work in a digital age. Finding tools that fit your personal preferences will help your work go more smoothly and aid in your productivity.
Though this is a time when our remote work should be done from home, as social distancing is incredibly important, a VPN is necessary for working from places with open WiFi connections. Using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network provides the security that open networks aren’t owned by a thief looking to gain access to your private information. Also providing the confidence that you have a secure internet connection while traveling as well.
Remote Work, Works… When You Have The Right Tools In Place
For many, working remotely was something they never dreamed themselves able to do, envisioning constant distraction, lack of human interaction, and never getting anything done. With so many now distributed without their permission, they’re seeing that remote work is actually doable. Many are realizing that the real secret to remote success is constant communication, and that doesn’t exist only inside a brick and mortar building. Each of the above tools will aid your remote team in ensuring a constant flow of communication.