When you’re new to working from home, it can feel a lot like: “What now? How am I going to do this all alone?"
Many things that were possible in the office are now different. Things like team meetings, water cooler chats and after-work beers. Instead of having a workspace that you go to and leave, your home is now your office. That takes a different type of mindset and some new work habits.
Luckily, with the right remote working tools, things don’t have to change all that much. They’ll just be different! Instead of brainstorming in a room, you’ll do it via group chat or in a shared document. Apps will help you to keep productive and track your progress. And Friday beers? How about a round of trivia with your teammates instead?
In this article, we’ll talk about the 9 free remote working tools that we find valuable for people working from home in a remote team.
Google Drive: we can’t work without this team-collaborating tool! Though Google Sheets can still learn a thing or two from Excel, we all regularly use Google Docs—especially our content writers.
Once a document is done we share it with the team members involved, who can then leave comments or activate the suggestion mode to proofread and edit the text. Google Drive makes it easy to simultaneously work on a document, and with the sharing options, we can decide who can view, edit and/or comment.
For team communication, we are rooting for #TeamSlack. In fact, we love this tool so much that we wrote an entire blog about it. Slack is a communication tool for teams where you can talk in groups or privately, share files and automate messages using integrations.
Slack is great for teams and makes it super convenient to share, store and search for information. Their free version is not just for business purposes, but also for group communication (think Facebook groups 2.0).
By adding Donut to Slack you can still have those catchups with work friends, but virtually. Donut automatically pairs team members and encourages them to start a chat conversation or hop on a quick (video) call. This strengthens your team engagement, builds relationships and creates an overall better culture in the company.
Remote work is all about written communication, and Grammarly ensures you always sound professional. The tool highlights spelling mistakes, helps with punctuation, recommends substitutes, detects the tone of your message and even autocorrects as you type. Spend some weeks with Grammarly and you’ll be hooked. We especially love the personalized, cheerleading emails with your writing stats they deliver to your inbox.
You need a schedule. Take it from retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent a year up in space and listed “having a schedule” as one of the main lessons he learned to maintain a normal life (well, as normal as it gets).
We might not be from a spaceship, but our mindset when working from home is similar. There’s no office that provides a routine, instead, you need to make your own planning. Calendly helps you plan your day and organize meetings.
The calendar tool makes it easy to find a time that works for everyone, without wasting time going back and forth playing scheduling ping pong. After connecting your schedule and creating a new appointment, Calendly checks for free spots and creates an invitation link. Participants can visit this link and pick from different time slots. You can also embed your availability on your website and let people schedule sessions—great for coaches, online businesses and more.
The free remote working tool that we enjoy using for project management is Trello. With this tool, you can manage projects, keep track of progress and collaborate with your team. The visual drag & drop interface makes it easy to organize and prioritize projects.
Open offices can be quite a distraction, but try working from home and having your Instagram notifications, your WhatsApp friends and your fridge all begging for your attention.
Staying focused is a job most of us have forgotten to master. If you need a kick in the butt and long for more self-discipline, Toggle is your accountability buddy. This free time tracking software tracks your web browser and phone app usage and then reports back. It lets you know exactly how much time you spent on what and reveals which websites and apps keep you from completing tasks that are actually important. Toggle’s free plan includes time interval reminders and a Pomodoro timer as well.
When was the last time you scrolled through your social network feed? We all do it way more than we’d like to admit. If you’re tired of accidentally getting lost in memes, we have just the right app for you.
Serene app for Mac lets you focus on 1 task and cuts all distractions. Organize your day in the planner by creating to-do lists. Then set the session timer for a time period of your choice and prevent yourself from losing focus by using their built-in phone silencer and app and website blocker. If you work better with background music, the app makers also provide focus music suggestions.
If you’re still using the same password or variations thereof, now is the time to finally make the switch. With so much of your personal information stored in different accounts, it’s important to protect yourself from intruders. Bitwarden helps you to generate unique passwords and safely stores all your login data.
This has 3 main benefits:
With Bitwarden, you’ll have 1 place where all your passwords are securely stored. It’s available for desktop, web browser and mobile.
Chances are, you probably heard about this app or already have it installed on your phone. Houseparty is everywhere in 2020! The app started gathering fame because of its 8-people video chat functionality, but the games are what make it really fun. With Houseparty your after-work team activities will evolve less around drinks, more around getting your answers right. The app comes with 4 games: Heads Up!, Trivia, Quick Draw! and Chips and Guac (a sort of Cards Against Humanity).
Before you get started, here are 5 things to know before you join the fun (hint: a separate account for work colleagues and friends wouldn’t be a bad idea).
Having the right free remote working tools installed on your laptop or phone is a good start, but there are many other things you can do to optimize working remotely. We’ve been sharing many tips from our own years of experience as a remote-first team. Here they are:
Working from home
Managing a remote team
I’m Megan, Content Writer at MailerLite. You can find me in Berlin, NYC or somewhere escaping winter in Asia. I have helped many start-ups grow their online visibility. Blogging has always been my thing—from running artist fan pages as a teenager to now discovering upcoming talent on Sign This Kid.