Top 10 Remote Working Tools

More and more of us are working away from the office on the mobile with a diverse package of software, tools and websites that we can access for almost anything that a start up business needs doing on a daily basis.

For some working from home can be hard. Especially if you've come from a corporate environment where you had everything at your fingertips and now suddenly ... you're on your little ol' lonesome in your home office.

Your business may be micro or small or even growing health and fat, but anywhich way you're doing things, you'll still need this starter kit of remote working tools.

Guest Blogger, Simon Prince, hopped over from his own remote working day to share his top 10 remote working tools.

 

What's In Your Remote Working Toolkit?

Staying connected, sharing documents, travelling to meetings – all these things often add together to create additional and unnecessary stress. But this needn’t be the case. With a range of online tools at our fingertips and an app for pretty much everything, why not let technology lessen the hassles that come with remote working. Here are our top tips for making remote working life that little bit easier.

remote working tools for start up business entrepreneurs

1.    Dropbox

Carrying round a memory drive, remembering which device you last worked on or emailing multiple versions of a document is an easy way for work to get lost. Using a remote storage facility such as Dropbox means that your work is always accessible regardless where you are working and it is easy to see the latest version of a document. This is also a great place to store shared documents such as user guides, price lists and general marketing information, so that remote workers always have access to the most up to date information.

With an app available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and desktop that gives you the first 2GB of data for free, there really is no reason why workers out of the office can’t have the same materials available as those set up on an internal shared access drive.

Cost: 2GB Free, plus an extra 500MB per referral (up to 18GB). Pro plans start at $9.99/month (100, 200, 500 GB). Business plans tailored for the individual, start at 1TB storage.

Find out more: https://www.dropbox.com/

2.    Google Drive

Although unlikely to ever replace programmes such as Microsoft Word and Excel, Google Drive – the new home for Google Docs – is a great collaboration tool that allows multiple users to edit and work on the same document at the same time. Through this you are able to create text documents, presentations, spreadsheets, basic forms and simple drawings.

Removing the confusion of multiple document versions, a great advantage is that you have 15 GB of free storage – although this is shared across any Gmail and Google Plus account you may also have.

Cost: Free

Find out more about Google Drive.

3.    Evernote

When you’re on the move or even flitting between projects in the office, you don’t always want to create a formal document before an idea gets past that initial first step. Evernote is a handy note taking tool where you can save anything from the beginning of an idea through to a fully-fledged plan. Simple in design and easy to search through, it’s a great way to save away those inspirational snippets that can so easily get lost in daily routine.

Cost: Free

Find out more: http://evernote.com/

4.    Pidgin

Because we all receive too many emails a day and sometimes all you need is a quick two word answer, instant messaging tools are not yet dead. The best we’ve found so far is Pidgin as it lets you combine multiple chat networks into one interface – for example, AIM, Google Talk, MSN and Yahoo!

This kind of tool becomes even more important for remote workers as they can’t simply turn to a colleague for a quick opinion. It also makes up a little for the loss of the ‘water cooler effect’ where people working away from an office environment lose out on the daily idle chatter. Sending a quick ‘hello, how was your evening’ over IM first thing in the morning is far less formal than an email but still helps to create a team feeling between colleagues in different locations.

Cost: Free

Find out more: http://www.pidgin.im/

5.    Trello

When working remotely, project management isn’t always the easiest thing to keep on top of. Scalable for different projects, Trello really comes into its own for personal organisation. By creating lists and boards it is easy to see what needs to be done as well as the progress of each item.

Sharing these boards with colleagues avoids repetition and allows for tasks to be assigned so that everyone is clear on their objectives and the role they play within the team. Being available online means that the information is always available and isn’t dependent on a specific device. 

Cost: Free

Find out more: https://trello.com/

6.    Timeanddate

Remote working often means that your freelance colleagues and clients are also working from various locations. When these locations are spread across different countries or time zones, finding a meeting time during standard working hours can become confusing.

This is where using a scheduler such as timeanddate.com allows you to easily see what times are compatible between countries. Showing the time in each location throughout the day avoids the need to remember time differences, whilst the colour coded system makes reasonable working (as opposed to sleeping) hours easily identifiable.

Cost: Free

Find out more: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html

7.    Conference Genie

Conference calling is one thing, but there will always be times when showing what you mean will be easier than describing it. Video conferencing services such as Conference Genie are therefore invaluable. Being able to see call participants and their reactions gives a more personal feel as well as a better insight into how the meeting is going. Similarly, sharing your desktop screen with participants on the call means that you can actively demonstrate your point by talking through a presentation. You can also ask for feedback to edit a document in real-time, making the collaboration process easy.
 
Alternatively, the advantage of using a conference calling service for your video calls means that if you’re having a bad hair day and don’t fancy showing your face, you can always rely on the traditional conference calling system instead.

Cost: cost of the phone call – from a UK BT Landline this 4.3p per minute

Find out more: http://www.conferencegenie.co.uk/

8.    Headset And Webcam

Following from this, when working remotely, phone calls are likely to become a large part of your daily routine. Having the right equipment for this is therefore essential and a headset for answering calls is part of this. Keeping your hands free to take notes or run a presentation, a headset also avoids neck or shoulder strain from any contortionist acts you may otherwise pull.

There is also inevitably going to be a time when you need to take part in a video conference. Many laptops now have a webcam built in, but if using a standalone computer purchasing a separate webcam may be necessary.

9.    Mobile Payments

Remote working doesn’t necessarily mean being stuck behind a computer all day. For some, it is likely that you may need to receive payment whilst out and about.

iZettle enables you to use your smartphone or tablets to take card payments, removing the potential obstacle of processing a card payment. They are also currently running an interesting member offer, which gives you £80 worth of transaction fees for free, working out at £2900 worth of sales without any transaction fees.

Cost: No fixed fees, only 2.75% per transaction, no contract, chip & pin card reader £99 + VAT
Find out more about iZettle.

10.    Tethering 3G Dongle

There will be times when emailing from your phone simply won’t cut it and relying on finding a Wi-Fi hotspot can be a nightmare. Tethering your phone to use as a modem for another device or using a specific 3G dongle removes this worry.

All networks offer a range of options in the form of either a monthly contract or pay-as-you-go. Simply decide how often and for how long you will use it, check mobile network coverage in your area and away you go.

Cost: Dependent on your network and contract.

What do you think? Do you have a recommendation on how to use technology to make remote working that little bit easier? Or perhaps a common stress or obstacle where you’re still searching for the perfect solution?
   
Guest blogger, Simon Prince, is Head of Marketing at Conference Genie. He has over 10 years’ experience across Telecoms, Publishing and Gaming sectors. He’s passionate about strategy, digital and customer marketing and is always looking to learn new skills which may help improve his work and also those in the wider team.