Remote working used to be a perk or benefit that only came with snazzy tech startups or hip marketing agencies. But with the pandemic forcing most offices to close, many companies had to adapt quickly to keep their operations running despite the stay-at-home directives. So now, remote work has become a necessity for many businesses, and it's only going to get more common as time goes on.
A Forbes article shared some significant numbers concerning remote work and why it's here to stay:
- First, 74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard practice.
- Second, 97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full-time and prefer a hybrid set-up.
- Finally, 61% of employees like being fully remote and like not to go to an office.
If companies want to continue being competitive, they have to treat remote working as a part of their work practices rather than an afterthought. After all, according to TechRepublic, 81% of 4,000 surveyed respondents in 2020 would be more loyal to their organization if they offered flexible work options. In this survey, flexible remote options meant remote working or flexible work scheduling.
As businesses continue to adapt to a more remote working environment, it's essential to ensure that the best tools for working remote are available to empower employees to do their best work.
Good work from home software is essential to ensure mindful productivity during work hours while still giving them time to have fulfilling lives outside of work.
The Right Tools for Working Remotely
Many tools and apps are available in the market, but the problem is that many of the tools used for remote work were designed around face-to-face interaction. This design may hinder employees’ and teams’ efforts to work remotely effectively because it forces them to adapt to a workflow not suited for their current circumstances.
To help sift through the ever-growing market of apps for work, here is a list of some of the best remote work tools available.
Video conferencing apps are essential because they give teams much-needed face time to interact and connect with their colleagues. With face-to-face meetings not possible or generally hard to coordinate due to distance or time zone differences, these apps give teams the chance to collaborate and communicate in real-time.
Zoom is an online platform for video conferencing, collaboration, and content sharing. It’s a lightweight and straightforward software that allows people to easily join meetings and calls.
Users can easily create webinars, live chats, screen-share presentations, and share files from their computer or mobile device. Note that an account with Zoom is needed to host and set up meetings.
Google Meet is a virtual meeting platform developed by tech-giant Google. It's designed to let many people join the same virtual meeting and communicate with each other via various communication options - like video, audio, and chat. The beauty of Google Meet is that it comes with a Google account, so there’s no need to create a separate account to hold online meetings.
Teams can get advanced features such as breakout rooms, saving meeting recording to Google Drive, intelligent noise canceling, and other useful conferencing features with a Google Workspace account.
Jitsi is an open-source video conferencing software. Multiparty video conferencing is possible through Jitsi’s Videobridge program. Videobridge allows users to run multiple video streams simultaneously from a single server. It’s suitable for building massively scalable multiparty video applications.
Since Jitsi’s efforts and development are commercially supported by 8x8, the developers do not require any subscription or payment to access its meeting and video conferencing features.
Messaging apps are for communication or discussions that don’t need real-time collaboration or don’t need video-conferencing. This also leaves a paper trail of all meetings so that it’s easier for teams to get back to topics and other conversations.
Rock is an all-in-one messaging app that enables remote teams to communicate seamlessly. The app allows users, both free and paid, to create spaces to easily discuss projects and topics in one place. In addition, Rock allows unlimited invites into the spaces, allowing teams to easily communicate with anyone: internally and externally.
The app allows users to create 1:1 Spaces (like direct messages) and Group Spaces depending on the need. Each Space also comes with its own project management, note-taking, and file management suite to make project communications flow better.
What started as an internal messaging tool has become one of the most used workplace message software globally. When you think of working for a remote or distributed organization, more often than not, Slack is one of the communication tools in their arsenal.
Slack allows users to create channels, basically group chats for specific topics. In addition, the app has a robust network of integrations with other apps, which allow for improved features and functionality.
Slack has a free plan that provides limited message history, limited integrations, and 1:1 calls. However, if teams want access to the entire message history, go on group calls, and other advanced features, then Slack has several tiers of paid plans (paid per active user per month) depending on the business needs.
Discord is a chat app similar to Slack in its ability to create channels and organize conversations. However, its origins couldn’t be any different - Discord is primarily targeted towards gamers as it’s a lightweight audio and video call app that allows streaming.
What brings people beyond gaming to Discord is its accessibility and high customization options. Discord is free for the most part. You can create and join as many servers without shelling out a cent.
Their Nitro Benefits (equivalent to a paid plan) is at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year and give subscribers enhanced customization like personal profile and other perks like HD video for screen share and live streaming.
WhatsApp is a messenger software that’s available on both mobile and desktop. It allows users to send messages and make calls over the internet. With WhatsApp, costs are significantly cheaper than traditional calls and SMS with a service provider.
With over 2 billion users worldwide, WhatsApp adoption within any team or organization will not be difficult. Aside from audio and video calls and texts, WhatsApp allows easy document sharing.
In addition, its end-to-end encryption makes discussing confidential information with the app secure. While it’s not specifically for business and internal team chatter, WhatsApp is still a good platform for real-time chat and messages. It’s also free so fees wouldn’t be a problem.
Like WhatsApp, Telegram is a mobile and desktop messaging app that allows users to send messages and make calls over the internet.
Telegram differentiates itself from WhatsApp by focusing on security, encryption, and data privacy. However, in line with Telegram’s founders’ principles, the app will remain free, with some optional monetization options being rolled out in the future.
Online File Storage
Gone are days of manually printing documents and filing them in folders in metal cabinets. In the digital age, file management and storage files happen in the cloud, where one can access their files any time, any place.
Google Drive is one of the most popular file hosting services available today. It allows users to save files online and access them anywhere from smartphones, tablets, or computers. Google Drive also makes file sharing easier as anyone can access those files or folders provided that they have the link and the appropriate permissions.
Google Drive is integrated within the Google Suite ecosystem. 15GB of Google Drive storage comes with every free Google account. If users or teams need more, extra storage is available. Google Workspace accounts also give extended Drive capacity.
Dropbox is one of the most popular ways to share files online. It has been around since 2006 and continues to be updated regularly. Despite it being one of the forerunners of cloud storage, Dropbox is still widely used and is likely a better choice for file sharing online.
Dropbox also has a rich marketplace of integrations with other productivity apps, ensuring improved and synchronized processes within a team’s workspaces and cloud storage. Dropbox’s plan starts at $9.99 and already gives 2TB worth of storage. For teams that need more storage and advanced features like API integration or teams management, Business plans start at $16.58/month.
OneDrive is an online file storage service offered by Microsoft that allows users to access their files from any device. Users can upload their documents, videos, images, and other types of files to OneDrive. In addition, the service provides file-sharing, automatic backups, and integrated version history, among other features.
Users can get up to 5GB of free OneDrive storage. Microsoft 365 has several pricing options for both home and business users. The paid OneDrive options start at 1TB of storage, so it’ll take a while before extra storage is needed.
Rock allows for unlimited file storage with a limit of up to 10MBper file for free. On the other hand, users with PRO spaces can upload up to 50MB per file.
For bigger files, Rock also allows teams to integrate with cloud storage providers such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Figma and Adobe Creative Cloud so that users can easily link out files and integrate them within the app’s other functions.
Project management apps are essential for remote teams because it allows managers and individuals to see who is working on what, what needs to be done, and when tasks should be done. This helps teams plan better, allocate resources more efficiently, and avoid problems before they occur.
Rock is a project management app that helps remote, distributed, and asynchronous teams work better. It’s an all-in-one tool that lets teams manage projects and collaborate with clients and stakeholders.
With Rock, a user can create a Space with self-contained mini-apps such as messages, topics, tasks, notes, files and meetings that teams can use to communicate and manage projects. The Tasks mini-app helps users manage project-related tasks and creates a visual space that allows team members to easily see what needs to be done.
Users can also add an unlimited number of people to spaces, so that they can work with all the stakeholders and client accounts across their different projects.
Basecamp is a project management and team collaboration tool in one. The software lets users create boards for different teams and projects where each board is its self-contained repository for everything related to that project. The app aims to make remote working easier by lessening unnecessary meetings, decreasing micromanagement, and increasing productivity.
Basecamp has a free plan where users can experience the app with limited features. The free plan is best for individuals looking to get organized or those looking to try the tool out. As for a paid option, the company offers a $99/month flat rate regardless of the number of projects or users.
ClickUp is a cloud-based project management and collaboration tool that enables businesses to communicate and collaborate effectively. It allows users to create projects, assign tasks and send messages. The app also provides dashboards that give real-time information on meaningful data with projects and ongoing work. In addition, ClickUp also has a rich bank of partner apps and integrations to make working easier for its users.
ClickUp has a free plan that allows users to create unlimited tasks and unlimited users. Unlimited's cheapest plan starts at $5/user/month if teams need more advanced features. After that, it goes up to $19/month for advanced business users and has custom pricing for Enterprise accounts.
Asana is a cloud-based integrated task management platform that provides a simple way for teams to organize their activities and track progress. It helps streamline work in organizations, giving team members a way to plan out multiple projects and tasks more efficiently.
The free plan comes with unlimited projects, tasks, and messages. However, it has a collaboration limit of up to 15 users. If teams are interested in adding more users or getting advanced features like Gantt charts, then the paid plan starts at $10.99 per user per month.
Trello is an online task management application designed for individuals or teams. The Atlassian-owned software visualizes projects, quickly shows people assigned to specific tasks and allows for seamless collaboration between multiple users. The app uses the idea of Kanban boards to manage various projects and tasks easily.
Teams can quickly try out Trello’s project management capabilities through a free plan. The free plan comes with unlimited cards, up to 10 boards per Workspace, unlimited storage, and other cool features. Trello’s paid plan starts at $5 per user per month for more advanced features and improved visualization.
Note Taking and Documentation
Note apps help teams and individuals keep track of important information, whether taking down meeting minutes during a sprint call or meaningful feedback after a 1:1 with a manager or taking down information to share with the rest of the team.
Rock has a robust note-taking functionality that helps teams improve the way they share information and handle company knowledge. The Notes mini-app lets users take important notes and jot down information to be shared onto the spaces where the note was created.
Additionally, the Topics mini-app allows for in-depth discussion on one topic at a time, allowing for better documentation of messages, especially when it comes to more exhaustive discussions. This way, anyone looking for specific information or conversations about a topic can just open a topic instead of searching the chat.
Notion sees itself as an all-in-one workspace that helps teams stay organized by putting notes, tasks, to-dos, wikis, and databases in one place. The app also provides an easy-to-use interface using blocks, making it easier for users to create pages. In addition, Notion also provides a robust selection of app integrations, making it easy to put in with existing workflow.
For those interested to try Notion, there’s a free plan that allows for unlimited pages, the ability to share for up to 5 guests, multi-device sync, and API access for custom integrations. Paid plans are available for improved features such as unlimited guests, unlimited file uploads, and more.
Evernote is a cloud-based application that works and syncs on your smartphone and computer. The app allows you to take notes, to-dos, tasks, screenshots, audio notes, and other things to organize them into notebooks that you can later search through.
Evernote’s free plans easily allow for note-taking and synchronizing up to 2 devices. Users can also take advantage of its robust media support to upload or attach .pdfs, videos, images, and other documents. For those needing more features like increased monthly upload limits or integration to the calendar or exporting notes as PDF files, then paid plans are available.
Rock is an All-In-One App for Remote Teams
With remote working here to stay, it’s essential to be updated with some practical remote work tools.
Understandably, it can also be overwhelming when managers have to deal with searching the market for software and platforms that would fit their business and process needs. A good alternative is to consider an all-in-one platform that would empower teams to do their best by focusing on work instead of switching between tools.
Rock is an all-in-one platform created for remote and distributed teams. The platform combines messaging with project management and notes. Teams can also seamlessly connect third party files and meeting platforms via integrations to Google Drive, OneDrive, Google Meet, Zoom, Notion and more.
Rock has a free plan that allows teams and individuals to create unlimited spaces and invite unlimited people - both internal teammates and external stakeholders. In addition, teams can create unlimited tasks, notes, and topics. This means that anyone can enjoy Rock’s suite of productivity tools without paying.
You can import messages from Slack when switching to Rock so you don't lose any conversations while quickly getting up to speed. It is also possible to import tasks from Trello, Asana, ClickUp and Jira for free if you are switching from a project management platform but don't want to lose past documentation.
Try Rock for free now and see the difference an all-in-one app makes to your remote workflow.