With remote working sharply on the rise (50% of the entire UK workforce is expected to work remotely at some capacity by 2020), more people are getting the day’s tasks done at home. According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Report, despite having the freedom to work from anywhere, the vast majority of remote workers (84%) still prefer to get things done from home.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider the challenges of getting tasks done from the comfort of your own home – as well as any implications this might have on the rest of your home life. One of the key supposed benefits of remote working is achieving a better work-life balance and another one is that it boosts productivity.
This is all great, in theory, but reality shows us that achieving these benefits doesn’t come automatically. The same report from Buffer also lists the most common struggles remote workers say they encounter.
It’s telling that the most common problem cited is struggling to unplug after work and I can say this is something I definitely have problems with. However, I can also say this is directly linked to productivity when tasks take longer and then start eating into my personal time.
Communication and collaboration is an obvious barrier when you’re working in a different location to your teammates, but this is one area where we have an abundance of apps at our disposal. More challenging is the issue of distractions at home and this is something else I have to be really disciplined with.
I can also understand motivation being a problem when you remove all the gentle nudges of having superiors, teammates and that sense of being at work.
These are challenges we’re addressing in this article and all of the apps we’re looking at today will help you overcome these.
Top 10 apps for remote working at home
We’ve previously looked at the best productivity tools for teams, apps for distributed teams around the world and automation tools for small businesses. However, the focus of this article is the individual remote worker who calls their home their office. You work from home (or you want to work from home) and you need to maximise productivity so you can achieve that work-life balance everyone keeps telling you about.
Therefore, many of the tools I’m recommending here are free and the paid ones all come with a free version or offer reasonably-priced options. I’m not here to recommend expensive business-grade tools that your company should be paying. There are tools you can use to improve your own workflow, impress your bosses and turn remote working into a truly life-changing move.
Here’s a quick summary of the tools we’ll be looking at in more detail:
- Serene: A tool that cuts out distractions, helps you stay focused and complete tasks faster.
- Slack: Team communication, the way it should be for remote workers.
- Zoom: Video and voice calls for groups and one-to-one.
- Toggl: Keep track of how long it’s really taking you to complete tasks.
- Google Drive: Document creation, cloud storage, file sharing and collaboration.
- Calendar: Manage all of your calendars and events in one place, arrange meetings without dozens of emails.
- Spark: A smart email client that stops your inbox getting in the way of productivity and turns it into an asset.
- Chrome Remote Desktop: Access your computer securely from any device and screen share with teammates for stronger collaboration.
- Zapier: Save time on repetitive tasks and switching between apps by automating processes (eg: automatically saving Gmail attachments to Google Drive).
- Daywise: Schedule notifications to stop work interrupting your free time.
As you can see, each of these tools fulfils a different role so I’m not recommending 10 different apps that basically all do the same thing. Each of these recommendations will increase your productivity and I fully expect you’ll be using eight or more of these after reading this article (or similar alternatives to each individual tool).
Written by Aaron Brooks