Working from home isn’t always easy. Sure, there’s no commute and you’re saving a small fortune without those lunches out– but you may also feel stressed and isolated. We’ve already tackled some of the best home office tools for staying connected, productive, and keeping in touch with colleagues. Here, we’re rounding up some more unusual tools for remote workers. We’ll tackle the most common problems affecting home office workers and offer solutions that help work-from-homers to do their best.
Problem-Solving Tools for Remote Workers
The first step to having a productive workforce is ensuring that they have access to appropriate remote working equipment. Do they have the screens, keyboards, routers, and thumb drives they need? Some businesses are creating budgets to help employees get the stand-up desks, ergonomic chairs, and soft lighting that they need. It turns out that back support is just as important as tech support.
Even workers who are completely decked out may find themselves struggling to adjust to the work-from-home lifestyle. What are some problems currently demotivating remote workers?
- You may feel isolated without workplace interactions or stressed by the competing demands of your work and home lives. These are difficult times and it is more important than ever for managers to prioritize employee mental health.
- Remote workers may also need support to meet the changing demands of the workplace. Tools for monitoring remote workers may leave you feeling untrusted and unsure of expectations.
- We know that communication is key for remote work. Though there are many video chat, text chat, and chat chat platforms to choose from, you may still feel disconnected.
- While studies show that home workers are often more productive than office workers, you are probably worried about productivity. How can you stay focused?
Let’s explore how policy tweaks and technology tools can help remote workers to adjust, and excel… from home.
Tools for Your Remote Working Tool Kit
What is the best technology for working remotely? To be included in our roundup, home office and remote collaboration tools needed to be intuitive, easy-to-use, and relevant.
With everything from mental health support to security precautions, our tools for remote workers will help your business to keep growing.
Some of the most important tools for remote workers will help to support mental health in these difficult times. Working from home can leave you feeling disconnected and stressed out. If you want to be more effective in the workplace, remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Make sure you are taking care of yourself.
Businesses can support employee mental health by circulating resource cheat sheets, informing workers which local counselors and therapists are covered by the company’s benefits. Some businesses may subsidize subscriptions to online mental health services like TalkSpace or BetterHelp. Telehealth services will be key to stress management.
You might also want to check out meditation apps such as headspace and InsightTimer. Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and gain focus. With ten minutes in the morning or at night, you may find yourself a little more at ease.
Supervisors managing remote workers for the first time may feel a little uneasy. How to measure productivity when workers are out of sight? Instead of using tools for monitoring remote workers, it may be better for managers to create an atmosphere of trust. Monitoring remote workers will only keep them glued to superficial busywork that won’t show results.
In order to do meaningful and valuable work, which Cal Newport calls “deep work,” you need the opportunity to think deeply about problems. This means staying away from your inbox and focused on the task at hand.
Mindmapping tools, such as MindMeister, can help with virtual brainstorming whether you are solo or working with a team. Visualize ideas and then easily turn your thoughts into actions by organizing to-do lists directly from your map. List-making systems like old favorite Workflowy can also help you to explore thoughts deeply and organize your process.
When it comes to tools for remote workers, many workers are concerned about staying focused. One of the best productivity tools for remote workers is Mindful Browsing, an extension that will politely keep you from wandering to sites you don’t really want to visit. When you navigate to one of your blocked sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, Mindful Browsing will show a peaceful image such as mountains or a lake. “Are you sure you want to spend time on this website?” It will ask. “No,” you will click, and head back to the serious stuff.
Also be sure to check out Forest, an app that lets you grow adorable trees as long as you don’t touch your phone. The beautiful graphics will keep you motivated! After all, you don’t want to kill a tree… do you?
Remote work has been on the rise for a while now, so you probably already know about essential tools like Zoom and Slack. Let’s talk about how to upgrade your communication game so that you’re excited to get online.
We’ve all been on that call with someone’s incessantly barking dog just off-camera. With Krisp, noise cancellation software that works for all communication apps, your meetings will be disturbed no more. You won’t have to worry about muting or unmuting team members (or begging them to mute themselves) and you’ll have better audio quality. Concentrate on what is being said instead of straining to hear.
You’ve heard of the notorious meeting that should have been an email. But what about the email that could have been an audio message? Sometimes, typing every detail of a complex idea can be less effective than explaining it out loud. But, equally, scheduling a whole meeting over it can seem like a little much. When it comes to collaboration tools, Yac presents a happy medium, allowing users to send each other voice notes.
The most important tools for remote working are arguably those which protect the security of the business. With remote workers, companies face more opportunities for sensitive security breaches. Which two tools increase security for remote workers?
We recommend a password manager, such as 1password. This useful app prevents one of the most common security issues: using the same password across multiple sites. With 1password, you will be given a unique, uncrackable password for each site you use but all you will have to remember is the master password.
For any remote home workers who sometimes work in public, such as in a library or a cafe, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is indispensable. This will protect your information from third parties which could pick it up from foreign servers. The New York Times recommends Mullvad, which meets the highest security standards and will protect all your data.
Massive changes have been underfoot since the start of the pandemic. Companies that were managed completely offline a year ago are now totally digital. As the situation continues to evolve, the demands of the marketplace are rapidly shifting. According to McKinsey, now is a vital time to reskill the workforce, preparing employees to take on new roles and responsibilities.
Employers should invest in training employees, wherever they see skill gaps. What skills will be relevant in the distance economy? This can start with more comprehensive performance reviews and conversations. What skills do employees want to learn? Helping employees with career development will also help them feel more engaged in their day-to-day work.
Employer-led learning programs may be the most specific to your business’s needs, but there are many tools that offer training and development opportunities. Coursera draws classes from the world’s best universities to help with IT learning, while Linkedin Learning can help you to develop the skills you need to further your career.
The Future of Remote Work
As the business landscape changes, remote work may stay the norm for many. Tools for remote workers will continue to advance. But with these tools for remote working in their toolkits, many workers will be off to a great start.
Written by Valerie Slaughter