Working from home doesn’t mean flying solo. Instead, you have to find creative ways to collaborate virtually with your colleagues, co-workers and clients. Watercooler chats move to online forums and collaborative projects come together thanks to cloud-based software.
Whether your employer encourages remote work days a few times per month, or you’re a small business owner making things happen from a home office, it’s not too difficult to communicate with people beyond earshot of your laptop.
Here’s a quick checklist for those who are heading home to put in hours for an employer for the first time:
- Does your company have a remote work policy? Do you know what’s expected of you and what’s provided for you?
- Do you have access to your company email account, CRM and/or intranet from your home?
- Will your employer supply a laptop, cellphone or hardware that you need to complete your job tasks, or do you need to use your own equipment when working from home?
Now, let’s dig into a list of apps, programs, software and tools that make working remotely more efficient while bolstering communication among team members.
Must-Have Work-From-Home Tools
Here are several programs I use day-to-day to nurture remote team collaboration, and a few recommendations from my friends online.
I just started using this website last month to collaborate with a digital marketing agency on content production.
Shortlist allows for assigning content, content submission, payments and messaging among several members working on the same project or goals. It’s a great way to keep ongoing projects organized and everyone up to date on the status of a project.
I'd have to give my vote for the Google suite of apps, although I am not at a point yet where I do a lot of collab work, I am a power-user of @googledrive, @googledocs, and @GoogleKeep … I love these tools bc they allow me to stay organized + focused. I use Keep in a GTD style.
— candice reinke || freelance writer + blogger (@canreinkewriter) November 6, 2018
My go-to for cloud-based sharing and content creation is Google Docs, which can be found in Google Drive.
This program lets me compose, edit and share documents with others via email. Once they have access we can all review, edit and write on common documents.
As a writer, it’s very helpful when several people want to give input on an article without bombing each other with a series of ‘reply all’ emails.
We use Microsoft Teams which allows collaborative document editing, private messaging and virtual meetings.
— Rikki Ayers (@remoterenegades) November 6, 2018
My husband is a die-hard One Note fan, so I’m including it on this list. He loves to use it for both document creation and for gathering bits of pieces across the web and compiling it together.
Much like Google Docs, the One Note content can then be shared with others.
With one of my clients, we work exclusively through Wunderlist. He adds a bullet point list of what to include in each post. When I see the assignment come up, I start on the project, adding the final Word doc to the list upon completion. I love it!
— Mali A. (@MaliAndersonNow) November 5, 2018
I’ve used this project management software several times to collaborate with larger teams. It hosts a series of conversation threads, folders of documents (like PDF’s, photos, charts, reports), project timelines and bios of everyone involved in the project.
Basecamp almost feels like a virtual office, with ongoing back-and-forth comments and daily email recaps of what your team has been up to.
Hi, Try using @ViduPMTool
— Jennifer Morgan (@Jennifer_Mor89) November 6, 2018
If you’re creating several pieces of written content, this platform serves as a meeting place for the writers and project managers, editors and clients.
Each document can be tagged as a draft, in-review, final, etc. so everyone on the team knows the progress of each item. You can also leave comments on the text, which is fabulous during the editing process.
I love the taskbar that shows how far you’ve come and what’s left to complete when working on a multi-page project. GatherContent is great for creating a series of blog posts, chapters of an e-book, site pages for a website or individual white papers.
Remember the old-school forum with nesting threads? There’re back. This website (and app) are helpful if your team needs to chat in real time back and forth about projects.
The site is divided into folders, so individual teams can cluster together. For example, content strategists could chat among themselves in one folder while writers linger in a different folder. However, everyone can pop in and out and visit various threads.
I've tried using project management software like @basecamp and @wrike before to stay on the same page with my clients for each project, but it seems like we always end up reverting to email instead of logging into another system to check in.
— Brooke (Bates) Bilyj (@batesbn) November 5, 2018
I use @toggl to track time with my colleagues so I know who's doing what, @Calendly to easily schedule calls with clients instead of emailing back and forth, @Upwork to manage freelancers & @Google Hangouts to chat with my partner on the fly.
— Brooke (Bates) Bilyj (@batesbn) November 5, 2018
If you need to do a lot of file sharing for work, check out Dropbox. I’ve used it primarily for photo sharing with newspapers and magazines, but I think you could also use it for text, video, graphics and whatever else needs to go from your desktop to another computer.
What programs or apps do you love using when working remotely? Share in the comments below so everyone who stops by can learn about it too.
This post is the third and final article in a three-part series about working-from-home. If you missed them, visit Part 1 to learn more about remote work policies and browse Part 2 if you need help setting up a home office.
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