Remote working is all the rage today. More and more millennials, who now form the majority of the workforce in most industries, are opting to become a “digital nomad” and travel the world while working remotely.
While the idea of working from the comfort of your home or exotic locations across the planet is great, productivity can take a hit. And with the fierce competition among businesses and startups in every industry, it is only natural that employers today take productivity very seriously.
What’s more, the phrase “work-life balance” is more important than ever before. The young working population is all about the “hustle” but at the same time, they are also aware of the importance of avoiding stress and burn out.
And so, making the most of your limited working hours, regardless of where you’re working from, is crucial. Traditionally, productivity in offices has been dependent on several different factors, such as:
Desk design: Your desk is where most of the actual work happens. It should be designed such that it facilitates openness and communication while at the same time allows for some privacy.
Office environment: The overall design of the workplace also plays a big role in your productivity. It extends to your overall health and wellbeing. Having ample lighting and ventilation is just as important as having well-thought-out conference rooms and lounges.
Software and tools: The quality of tools (and resources in general) available to you is obviously a determinant to your level of efficiency.
Work culture: Fostering a genial company culture is vital to work productivity, plain and simple. Positive work culture is one that creates a sense of belonging among employees, encourages them to take breaks to recharge, and advocates collaboration across all teams.
Personalization: Personalizing your work station can boost your connection to your work. Simple personal items such as toys or photo frames help you feel at home and consequently, increase productivity.
These are just a few of the numerous factors that affect your productivity in a traditional workspace.
However, if you’re working from a remote workplace, such as a home office or an island in the beautiful Maldives, you are in complete charge of your work environment. You will surely optimize your workspace according to your tastes and preferences, wouldn’t you? Did you know, a 2017 study by the University of Minnesota suggests that ‘creative geniuses’ prefer a cluttered workspace.
And so, maximizing the level of productivity in a highly collaborative, remote workspace boils down to the tools and software at your disposal. Now, tools used are typically standardized across the company. In this regard, your productivity is still somewhat dependent on factors outside your control.
Just as a lot of thinking goes into designing a highly productive physical workspace architecture, interior design, structural design, etc. the same is true for a digital workspace. It takes gobs of creativity and design thinking to develop software that renders a great User Experience (UX), and in turn, boosts productivity. Furthermore, software with appealing User Interface (UI) subtly motivates you to do more work.
Thus, let’s take a brief look at some tools that actually enhance productivity when working remotely. Also, let’s keep it a pocket-friendly list without settling for mediocre.
Tools for Crisp Communication
While long email threads serve the purpose of communication, there are countless tools and apps both free and freemium that offer all-in-one communication services: voice calling, video calling, screen sharing, and instant messaging, over the internet. Although, only a handful of them work well and increase efficiency instead of increasing the hassle.
As you may have already guessed, Slack tops the charts here. With competitive pricing and a compelling free plan boasting all the features a small team could need, it’s no surprise Slack sets the global benchmark for professional instant messaging.
Noteworthy alternatives include Google Hangouts and Skype. These have all the features but feel somewhat inferior to Slack with regards to user experience.
Tools for Collaborative Project Management
Being on the same page can be a tall order, especially when you and your workmates are working from different time zones. Fortunately, there are some really good apps that help streamline work, track progress, and promote productivity and accountability across the team.
One of the most well-known tools in this space is Asana. It doesn’t drown you in a sea of unnecessary features and satisfies the basic needs creating calendars, assigning tasks, and setting priorities in an elegant way. An excellent alternative worth mentioning is Trello. It follows the Kanban technique to project management, with intuitive boards and drag-and-drop cards.
As such, both tools are pocket-friendly and moreover, the free version of Trello is perfect for small teams wanting to collaborate on projects broken down into smaller tasks.
Tools for Collaborative Documentation
Documentation can be dull. However, a well-designed user interface and user experience can help spice and speed things up.
Quite indisputably, Google Drive comes out on top when it comes to collaborative documentation documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms you name it. It is fast, free, and the ease of real-time collaboration is simply unparalleled. No alternative needed.
Thanks to the internet, we are no longer confined to suffocating office cubicles. That said, productivity can take a toll when your remote work requires a fair amount of teamwork. The free and freemium tools listed above will help you collaborate more efficiently when telecommuting.
What tools do you use when working remotely? Are they helping your productivity? Drop your two cents in the comments below.
About the Author:
Shyamal is the Founder of SmartTask, an online work management tool that's helping teams be more productive by having clarity on who's doing what by when. Has a penchant for researching and sharing strategies that could benefit a team's productivity.