More and more of us are working away from the office or with distributed teams so we’ve put together a list of 25 software, tools and websites that are useful for remote workers. We’ve grouped the list to make it easier to navigate.
Between us we have used them all and they will certainly make our lives easier for major upcoming events such as the Olympics and the Jubilee as the UK deals with a major influx of tourists and it may be hard to travel.
Remote communications tools
1. Yuuguu for one-to-one or group screen sharing, web conferencing and remote desktop control. Let your colleagues, customers or prospects see your screen. No need for viewers to download an app, it’s good quality screen sharing which is fast and available in a couple of clicks. It’s cross platform on Linux, Mac and PC and offers presence, shared control, IM and chat.
2. Skype - great for calls and IM if of course the other person has Skype. Free video calling, free Skype-to-Skype calls worldwide and ability to call mobiles and landlines for a fee.
3. Powwownow for conference calling. You pay the cost of your own dial in number and receive instant conference calling, low-cost international access, free call recordings, free web conferencing and free scheduling.
4. Business VoIP (Voice Over IP) systems allow you to transfer calls even though a colleague is in a different office. Intelligent call routing means that a call is never missed. VoIP is available on many smartphones and internet devices so that users of portable mobile devices can make calls or send SMS messages over 3G or Wi-Fi.
5. Webmail or web-based email allows email access via a web browser. Many Internet service providers provide a webmail service, but we like Google. Its main advantage is the ability to send and receive email anywhere from a web browser.
6. For secure connections with the office, virtual private networks (VPNs) with random-number-generating key tokens to provide login passwords are preferred by IT departments.
7. Call handling service – a phone answering service or outsourced call centre that will take phone messages when the telephone line is busy or you are unable to take calls.
8. Webcam – a video camera that feeds images into a computer or network, allowing video links and permitting computers to act as videophones.
9. Mobile device – whether it’s an iPad, netbook or a smart phone, ensure that you can grab your email from it, update your Twitter on it, store your documents and basically have your office with you wherever you go.
Remote task management/coordination tools
10. Basecamp – great online project management software. Easy to use with schedules and easy addition of projects.
11. ApolloHQ is similar to Basecamp but cheaper and not as good looking. Has a useful timer to keep a track on time spent on a job.
12. Trello (new but making a lot of noise in the software development world). It is a collaboration tool that organises your projects into boards, allowing you to see what’s being worked on, who’s working on what and where something’s in process all in one glance.
13. Timeanddate.com – if you are working with people in other countries, an international meeting planner enables you to chose time zones and multiple locations of your choice to set up meetings.
Storage and file sharing tools
14. Dropbox – share files and folders. They give some space for free but for regular sharing and if you have lots of documents, you can upgrade.
15. Google docs – create and share your work online and access your documents from anywhere. Manage documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc for free.
16. insync (like Dropbox but uses Google dox). Insync syncs your Google docs to all your devices and vice versa. It works on Windows and Mac and is free.
17. Box – collaboration tool, simplifying online file storage and sharing, allowing you to access, manage and share it from anywhere. Integrates with Google Apps and Salesforce and can be accessed on mobile devices.
Finding remote workers
Working remotely potentially opens up your company to a whole new pool of experts who may not be in the same town or city. These sites tend to be free to employers or freelancers with a small fee charged to the other party.
18. Freelancer.com – outsourcing marketplace allowing employers to hire freelancers via their website in areas such as software, writing, data entry and design through to engineering, sciences, sales and marketing and accounting and legal services
19. Elance.com – similar to freelancer – allows you to hire expert programmers, designers, writers, translators, marketers, researchers and admin contractors with tested skills.
20. Odesk – global marketplace to help businesses hire, manage and pay remote working freelancers or teams.
21. Peopleperhour – marketplace connecting small businesses and freelancers all over the world where they can buy and sell services to each other.
Creative thinking tools
22. Mindmeister is an online mind mapping software that allows users to visualise their thinking. You can share any creation by email or by secure link. Once shared you can start a thinking session and collaborate in real time.
23. Evernote – a free family of products that help you remember and act upon ideas, projects and experiences across all computers, phones and tablets.
This may seem obvious, but if you haven’t worked remotely before, you may want to consider ramping up your internet provision and having mobile internet capability too.
24. High speed broadband – high data rate access to the Internet. Broadband provides continuous connection with no dial up and frees up your phone line. Standard broadband technologies in most areas are ADSL and cable internet.
25. 3g dongle – 3g dongle is a portable device that attaches to a USB port to enable a PC to connect to WiMAX or 3G networks. A useful back-up if there are problems with your fixed line broadband.