The number of people working remotely increased by an estimated 159% from 2005 to 2017.
In addition to that, a huge amount of people just had to start working from home unexpectedly: we're currently experiencing a surge in remote work like nothing the world has seen before, the extent and impact of which we still can't fully grasp.
Whether you've worked remotely before or it's completely new to you, here are the apps we love for making remote work a success.
From communication apps to tools to help you focus, these platforms will keep your team in sync, on track, and in the best position to stay productive during this new reality.
Working remotely? Here are our favorite apps for...
With over 12 million daily active users, there's a high chance your business already uses Slack, the hugely popular messaging tool that "replaces email inside your company." If your workforce is remote, Slack is more valuable than ever to keep projects moving and collaboration flowing between departments.
Slack is also a great way to boost team spirit. For example, with an #announcements channel, everyone in your company can be kept in the loop with news and updates rather than waiting to hear it through the grapevine. Balance that with fun channels like #filmclub and you're sorted.
Another brand that has seen a huge surge in adoption in the last month is Zoom, the latest darling of remote workers as well as teachers, students and groups of friends. Zoom lets you set up video calls and webinars quickly and easily from anywhere in the world, so it's really handy for team meetings, video conferences and quick catch-ups alike.
It's never been easier for remote teams to collaborate thanks to cloud-based tools like Trello. The Kanban-style project management tool enables teams to organize and collaborate on anything.
Teamwork is similarly designed to help teams improve collaboration, visibility, accountability and results. The platform includes handy automations to streamline project workflows and collaboration while also reducing busywork.
Managing business in the cloud
Cloud-based apps are always a good idea – you can access them on any device, data is instantly synced between users, and providers can release instant updates and bug fixes. When you're working remotely, they're invaluable.
Some of the most impactful cloud-based apps for any business include:
- A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system – here are some of the best CRMs for small businesses
- An accounting system like QuickBooks Online or Xero
- An email marketing platform like Mailchimp or MailerLite
All of these types of apps connect seamlessly with PieSync, enabling your business tools to slot together and your data to stay up-to-date everywhere.
A favorite productivity tip for remote workers is the Pomodoro technique, or working for sets of focused 25-minute interval followed by breaks. Rather than manually setting up a timer, Chrome extensions like Marinara: Pomodoro® Assistant make it easier to get into your focus zone.
RescueTime is one of our team's favorite apps for staying productive when working remotely. The app uncovers where your time goes online and blocks distractions such as social media, news and entertainment when you need to focus.
To work productively, our team also relies on putting headphones on and tuning out the world. As expected, Spotify has a huge range of playlists categorized under "Focus", as well as individual playlists like Music for a Workday. Or use Noisli to craft your perfect background noise, mixing and matching nature and background sounds to get into a state of flow.
Coffitivity is another great app that recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work better. It's backed by a peer-reviewed study out of the University of Chicago showing that "A moderate level of ambient noise is conducive to creative cognition." Start with "Lunchtime Lounge" or "Texas Teahouse" to feel less isolated and more focused in your home office.
Putting a smile on your face
Although remote work has been glamorized in the last few years, the Instagrammable "work from anywhere" lifestyle isn't always all it's cracked up to be.
Working from home can get lonely, even for the dedicated introverts among us. So stay in touch with colleagues using the communication apps in this post, perhaps adding a bit of fun with a custom Zoom background or setting weekly times for a virtual coffee machine chat. Here's an example from one of PieSync's daily virtual chats with some creative backgrounds:
Another common problem for remote workers is struggling to switch off. To remedy this, encourage your team to have firm office hours and expectations about when you will and will not be available. When closing time rolls around, shut down Slack, your laptop and your inbox - and make sure notifications are disabled. And actually leave work behind for the rest of the day! It helps if you have a dedicated office space that you can physically step out of when the workday ends.
Working remotely requires doing things a little differently, but it's absolutely possible to thrive – especially with all the fantastic apps built with remote work in mind.