When you work from home, there are a few critical software productivity tools that can help you to get your job done smoothly. Without these tools, your work would take much longer and be more tedious. As a remote worker, many of these productivity tools are indispensable for your daily workflow.
The big winner of communication tools. When you’re working with a team, email is far too limited for group communication. Slack is a team messaging platform that’s heavily used among remote teams. You can communicate across different “channels” that have different people in them. Channels can be publicly discoverable across the whole organization or private, among a few select individuals. Uploading a file to Slack is easy: drag-n-drop the file into the chat.
Whether you’re on your computer, phone, or tablet, there is a slack app that you can use for all devices. If you don’t want to use the apps, you can just open up a browser on any device and use Slack there as well.
Slack also includes video conferencing capabilities, but the experience doesn’t quite match what Zoom has to offer…
My Personal Experience with Slack as Productivity Tool
It’s a wonderful tool. Every remote company that I’ve worked with has used it. There are really cool integrations that allow you to send messages from Slack to other platforms- or from other platforms back to Slack.
As a Software Engineer, there are many automated activities that go on throughout the day whenever new code is published, or error alerts are triggered. All of these things will pop up as a Slack message for team awareness. I also have Slack on my phone so I can respond to urgent incidents while I’m offline. I’d say that Slack is the most important productivity tool that I use on a daily basis.
Text messaging tools are great for asynchronous communication, where team members might have different hours of availability and respond at different times. But sometimes, you have to talk with people face-to-face in order to effectively exchange ideas. Some conversations just don’t transfer well over a text message. In these cases, Zoom is the top runner in terms of video conferencing software. However, if you are new to Zoom, then you should learn about the security aspects of Zoom before using it.
My Personal Experience with Zoom as a Productivity Tool
I use Zoom several times a week to catch up with my team. Although we all work from different timezones, we choose an hour of overlap to catch up on a video conference call. We can quickly share what we’ve done, any problems we ran into, and what we’re going to do next.
While text messages on Slack can be seen minutes or hours after they’re sent, a video call ensures that the whole team is in sync regarding all activities. It’s just like the good ‘ol days when people used to work together in the office! Once the call is over, we go back to working asynchronously for the most part.
I’ve tried numerous video conferencing tools over the years, but Zoom seems to have one advantage over the others- it works great on slow internet. I’ve held video calls while using my 4G phone as a WIFI hotspot. It worked surprisingly well. But I found that Zoom is very demanding on the computer and can really slow down multitasking- once I upgraded to a faster machine, my issues went away. Secondary to Slack, I find that Zoom is one of the best productivity tools for communicating more abstract ideas to a group of individuals.
3.) Google Workspace (Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets)
Formerly known as G-suite, Google Workspace actually consists of several cloud applications that work seamlessly with each other. If your entire team utilizes the Google Workspace tools, it’s very easy to exchange large files, collaborate on documents, create spreadsheets, and share any of those across your organization. Additionally, if you connect your domain name to the account, you can have custom emails like [email protected] rather than [email protected]. Let’s check out some of the specific apps that are included in a Google Workspace account:
The clock is always ticking, and we often need to plan out our activities days, week,s and months in advance. A paper calendar might get the job done, but Google Calendar is a far more dynamic and powerful calendar. Whenever an event on your calendar is about to happen, you’ll get a notification to your mobile devices a few minutes before (or however you customize it) as a quick reminder. It’s easy to manage a team calendar that everyone in the Google Workspace can access. Google Calendar is an absolutely necessary productivity tool for anyone who needs to precisely manage their schedule.
With Google Docs, you can create full rich text documents in the browser. There was a time when you needed a word processor software like Microsoft Word in order to create professional documents, but Google Docs is free and has nearly the same amount of functionality as Microsoft Word. And best of all, it’s in the cloud. No matter what computer you use, you can hop online and access any of your documents instantly. The documents can be exported as PDF too. Google Docs is one of those productivity tools that makes document management so easy.
Google Sheets is basically Microsoft Excel, but in the cloud. With Google Sheets, you can edit complex spreadsheets and apply formulas. Create charts and graphs. And you can export them to your favorite file formats such as Microsoft Excel or CSV. Google Sheets is another excellent productivity tool, especially for people who need to manage data about finances, business contacts, statistical data, and many more.
Back in the day, you’d need to carry a USB thumb drive in your pocket if you wanted to share files. Those days are mostly over. With Google Drive, we can send files to other users over the web with ease. Users can view pictures and videos within Google Drive without downloading them. Dropbox is a similar online service and a great personal solution, but Google Drive integrates nicely with the rest of the Google Workspace apps, making it more convenient. All of your Google Docs documents and Google Sheets spreadsheets can be accessed from within Google Drive and shared just like files.
My Personal Experience with Google Workspace as a Productivity Tool
Of all the online productivity tools I’ve used, Google Workspace takes the cake as being the most impactful. I use it on a daily basis either for work or personal use. Google Drive enables me to securely store photos and backup files to the cloud so that I can access them anywhere. Google Docs and Google Sheets help me to organize ideas and calculate finances, respectively.
From a work standpoint, pretty much every company I’ve worked with has used Google Workspace to share files, documents, and calendar events across the team. It’s easy, fast, stable, and trusted.
Franz is the glue between your favorite productivity tools. It allows you to connect multiple accounts for Slack, Google, LinkedIn, Trello, Skype, and more- into a single app. Many of us use anywhere from 5 to 10 or more different online accounts. Franz helps you to merge all of those into a single simple experience so you can save time and use fewer Chrome tabs.
My Personal Experience With Franz as a Productivity Tool
I use Franz for my work Slack account and work Gmail account. I can quickly toggle between them. It’s particularly nice to be able to connect a few other Slack accounts that I like to check on occasionally. If it weren’t for Franz, I’d likely let go of those other accounts but Franz makes it easy to access them. It’s almost like having a bookmark for all my accounts, but better.
Okay, this might not technically be in the category of “productivity tools”, but it should be! Sometimes putting on your favorite jam can help you get into the zone so you can start knocking out your todo list. As for my personal experience with Spotify, I enjoy listening to atmospheric non-lyrical music when I really need to focus. The funny thing is- when I get into the zone, I end up accidentally listening to other types of music and not even noticing.
Let’s Be Productive
Working from home comes with some new challenges, but hopefully, these five-ish productivity tools help to ease some of the hassles. There are also more sophisticated tools for managing your data without writing code.
Do you already use some of these tools? What has your experience been like? Let us know in the comments below.