By Eoin O'Hara
Whether you sit in a coffee shop or in one of our many co-working spaces, working remotely can bring with it a unique set of complications and difficulties… but these are no match for the fearless freelancer or enterprising entrepreneur!
Of course, remote working can be a lot of fun, but 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 you can get your hands on free stuff to help you the better
Here are 15 free apps and online tools that all remote workers should have in their arsenal.
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.
Perhaps you have your laptop with you at all times, or perhaps you’re perfectly okay with carrying a flash drive or two around in your pockets. But if this isn’t the case, or you have a team to collaborate with, free tools to keep your work together and available are invaluable. All you need 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.
Chances are, if you are remote working or using hot desks, it is because you are either a freelancer or work in a tiny team. If this is the case, you probably have to do a lot of the admin of the business yourself. This can 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 who may be based in a central commercial property is not only essential for collaboration, but also for your sanity.
Skype is an obvious choice for keeping in touch, especially with the ability to create group conversations. With a couple of quick alt+tabs, 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 are its main source of usefulness though.
Sqwiggle is a little similar to Skype, but with a few twists. Not only does it give you 5GB of file storage, but it shows regularly updated images from your team’s webcams. With one click on these images, you can start a video chat, or group text chat with up to 5 streams
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.
As mentioned earlier, remote working can be lonely, and it can also mean you are less likely to hear about events useful to your area of work.
Meetup is a website into which you can put your location, how far you are willing to travel, and the kind of event you are looking for. This can be anything from singles events to learning marketing and digital skills, business bootcamps, and general entrepreneur networking events
Eventbrite is another way of finding out about local events based on location (obviously), category, type, date, and paid or free
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.
Eoin O'Hara is a business developer at Startacus.net