If you’re new to working remotely, or even if you’re a regular teleworker, you may not know all the tools and hacks that can make virtual work a little simpler. Here are a few you may want to try.
As you get used to working remotely for possibly the first time in your professional life, you might find that communicating mostly through Slack or videoconferencing isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. But don’t fret, because there are lots of lesser-known software offerings that can make life easier when working out of the comfort of your living room.
These tools can boost your productivity, make conference calls more bearable, and even improve communication with your team. You might want to give one or two of them a try.
- Krisp (free for 120 minutes per week, $5 per month for unlimited use; MacOS, Windows, iOS). Phone calls while teleworking can be a challenge if there’s a bunch of household noise in the background. One way to minimize it is to use Krisp, a tool that removes background noise that both comes into your speakers and out of your mic.
- Toggl (free basic plan, $10 per user per month; MacOS, Windows, Android, iPhone, Chrome, Firefox). Remote work allows for new kinds of distractions all around that can interfere with productivity and make it harder to manage time. Toggl, a time-tracking tool, is designed to help users build efficiency. Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian recently told CNBC that Toggl helped him become more efficient after he became a father. “You find ways to cut time and to preserve time,” he said.
- I Done This ($12.50 per user per month; web-based). This daily productivity tracker tool is dead simple: Every day, the software emails team members working together on a project, asking them to check in and report what they’ve done so that progress can be marked off. It’s project management that’s a bit less hands-on and keeps out of the way for the most part.
- Focusmate (three free sessions per week; web-based). Described by The New Yorker as “part social network and part coworking space,” Focusmate is based on the idea that you’re less likely to procrastinate if you’ve committed to show up to work with someone else. The offbeat method here is that the tool sets up what’s essentially a video “work date” between two strangers who want to get something done in the same time slot. It could be just the thing to help remote workers feel some companionship and an extra nudge of accountability for how they spend their time.
A virtual private network (price varies). One way to ensure that your cloud networks are secure—and therefore your confidential communications and sensitive data are protected—is to use a virtual private network. There are lots of options on this front, as CNBC noted recently, and all have their strengths and weaknesses. The federal government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recently released recommendations for VPN tools and the features they should include.
By Ernie Smith, social media journalist for Associations Now