Working from home has become the normal routine for many of us now and for the foreseeable future, and for some of us, it’s an unusual experience. It may take some time to adjust (and that’s okay).
Working remotely can bring with it a unique set of difficulties but can also be a lot of fun. You’re in familiar surroundings and have access to your own kitchen all day, plus you can wear more comfortable clothes and listen to your favourite music while you work.
Making sure that you actually manage to get some work done at the same time is where many hit a little snag. Therefore, the more free tools you can get your hands on to help you, the better!
Some find it hard to keep motivated when working remotely. It’s easier to allow certain tasks and jobs to slide to make your day a bit simpler. What you need, then, is something to track everything you have to do, when you have to do it, and display it right in front of your face so you don’t get lazy.
Trello is an online pin board that uses ‘lists’ which have individual cards within them. The most obvious way to use this list and card system is for a to-do list. With file sharing, comment posting, checklists, and the ability to drag and drop team members into a card (or to-do item), Trello could rapidly become integral to your work, whether you are a lone freelancer or a team worker
Toggl is an alternative to time sheets and allows you to track how much time you spend on projects. With unlimited projects, sub-projects, and clients, you can track every second you and your team spends working, allowing you to bill accurately and analyse how how your time might be spent more effectively.
Remember The Milk is a quirky to-do app. It’s quick and easy to add tasks, but also allows a number of details such as sub-tasks, priority, repeat, tags, colour-coding, and more. Unlike entering a task into your phone’s calendar, Remember The Milk will remind you through email, text, IM, Twitter, and the mobile app, ensuring that you’ll never forget anything.
If you have a team to collaborate with, free tools to keep your work together and available are invaluable. All you need for these tools is internet access.
Google Docs allows you to pick up and continue work on any document, from any computer, and it can be worked on by more than one person at a time with all changes saved in the cloud
Dropbox provides online storage for your files and can be accessed via your desktop, an app for devices, or directly through a browser. Although you start with 2GB of space, that increases with every person you refer to the service
Evernote stores your notes, files, images, web clippings, etc., and allows you to make group notes and track tasks, syncing everything across computers and devices.
Admin tasks are now falling to everyone as well try to manage teams and ourselves. This might be daunting and time consuming but some of these free tools might help.
Hiveage (previously CurdBee) is a web-based invoicing tool that allows you to send estimates and invoices as well as tracking time and expenses. Payments can be taken via the site itself or through PayPal and, although free, you are able to add your own branding to everything
Wave is an accounting tool specifically designed for small business and non-accountants. Connect Wave to your bank account or other financial data source, and transactions will automatically be entered into your account. Generating reports, payroll, and even invoices is 100% free no matter how many customers you have
Hootsuite is an invaluable time-saving tool for marketing. It is a central platform for sending and, more importantly, scheduling posts for a variety of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Not only can you quickly and easily schedule these posts, but you can view important live feeds from each channel right there on Hootsuite’s dashboard.
Remote working can be lonely and keeping contact with other team members is not only essential for collaboration, but also for your sanity. Be sure to use video where you can so you have some face to face and eye contact with people in your team and social circle.
Skype or Skype for Business is an obvious choice for keeping in touch, especially with the ability to create group conversations. With a couple of quick taps on the keyboard, you can make a comment about how good your coffee is or ask a question and be right back to work in a few seconds. Free video or voice calls and file and screen sharing are its main source of usefulness.
Slack is a communications platform that allows private and public messaging and sharing within your team, but also takes other sharing and communication channels (like Dropbox and Twitter) and bundles them together to allow you to do pretty much everything from one place.
Remote working can be lonely, especially if it’s new for you. Staying in touch with friends, family, and co-workers is really important for your mental health. Try these to keep in contact.
Zoom allows you to conference call with up to 100 people. It’s free for 40 minutes, so if you take it in turns to host the meeting, you can use it for some time to talk. Host a meeting, catch up, or share resources with this handy programme. They’ve even lifted the 40-minute limit for all educational institutions in certain countries, to help maintain education whilst schools are on lockdown.
Google Hangouts allows voice and video calls and is built into Google+, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Voice. Plus there's Hangouts apps for iOS, Android, and the web.
EFactor is a website built by entrepreneurs and investors, by entrepreneurs. There is a blog area for members to submit articles and tips, a virtual marketplace, business listings, and a networking area.
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