In the last few days, hundreds of thousands of companies rolled out mandatory work from home policies amid the spread of Covid-19. It’s realistic to assume that shifting to the “home office” will become the new normal for many of us for a while.
Here at MediaDigi, we are working entirely remote for over 3 years. I’m Daniel and I will help you figure out which remote work tools your company needs to set up a remote working arrangement, with essential remote work tools and products that will keep your remote employees engaged, productive, and most important, safe.
1. Team Communication Tools
1. 1. Slack [Get Slack]
Slack it’s a team messaging app on steroids. You can centralize all your team conversations, including document attachments, calendars, and other information through what Slack calls integrations.
We are using Slack for all day to day communications between team members. It has apps for Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, macOS and it can also be used in the browser. Here is a step by step guide for installing and running Slack.
The slack free version includes:
- Search and browse the 10000 most recent messages
- 10 integrations (like Twitter, Google Calendar, Dropbox, and many more)
- Free native apps for iOS, Android, Mac Desktop & Windows Desktop
- 5Gb storage space for messages and files in Free version
- File sharing – All the public files your team shares are kept in one place
- 1:1 voice and video calls between teammates
1.2 Microsoft Teams [Get Microsoft Team]
Microsoft Teams is the main competitor of Slack. If you are using Office 365 in your organization then I recommend you going with Microsoft Teams as the integration is seamless.
According to TechAgainstCoronaVirus.com, Microsoft is offering a free six-month trial globally for a premium tier of Microsoft Teams. The tier was originally designed to enable hospitals, schools, and businesses in China to get up and running quickly on Microsoft Teams, and that tier is now available globally.
1. 3. Skype [Get Skype]
Before going with Slack we’ve used Skype for all our team communication and conference needs. Now we are using it to keep contacts with external contractors and customers.
You can use Skype for free, or you can purchase “Skype credits”, which allow you to receive and make calls to landlines and cell phones from your Skype account. It comes with apps for Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS and Android or you can use it from the browser with some functions limited.
2. Conference Tools
When working remotely is important to keep your team aligned with the organization goals.
2.1 Zoom [Get Zoom]
Zoom comes in handy for multi-participant meetings that work remotely.
With a free Zoom plan, you can host conferences with up to 100 participants, have 1 to 1 unlimited meeting but comes with a 40 mins limit on group meetings of three or more participants. This limit goes away on Business and Enterprise plans.
2.2 Whereby [Get Whereby]
The Whereby app is a nice little tool for videoconferencing and remote meetings. Can be used entirely in your browser, without having to install an app, just a small browser extension.
You can hold a video call with up to 4 people and even share your screen with the participants.
3. Office Suite Tools
In each company, there are plans, projects and documents that you need to share with your coworkers. Office Suite tools allow you to work remotely and collaborate on sight without having to email documents back and forth.
3.1 Google Suite [Get Google Suite]
G Suite is a suite of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products developed by Google Cloud. Under one account you have Business Email, Docs, Calendar, Meet, Drive and other useful tools.
You can easily create, share and collaborate with your team on documents. This is the solution we are using for over 3 years and we are really happy with it.
G Suite offers three main plans: Basic, which costs $6/user/month and comes with 30GB of Google Drive storage; Business, which costs $12/user/month and provides unlimited storage and extra security and admin controls; and Enterprise, with unlimited storage and advanced controls, which costs $25/user/month.
* We have 20% discount codes for Google Suite on the 1st year of usage. Contact us as we can not share them publicly.
3.2 Office 365 [Get Office 365]
Office 365 is a cloud-based subscription to a suite of Office programs like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive Outlook, Publisher, and Access.
Microsoft provides Office client apps for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android, and its web-based apps work across browsers.
Office 365 business subscriptions range from $5 per user per month for the most basic version, Office 365 Business Essentials, to $35 per user per month for Office 365 E5, the most feature-packed version for enterprises. You may read a head to head comparison with G Suite here.
Other office suite tools you can use: Zoho.
4. Time Tracking and Productivity Tools
Employee time tracking software allows your team to track work hours spent on every single project and task. As a project manager, you can see exactly which member is productive and stay focused and which one needs help.
You should discuss with your teammates about privacy matters of these tools (you can configure them to take screenshots at given intervals, to track visited websites etc).
4.1 Hubstaff [Get Hubstaff]
Hubstaff is a time tracking tool that utilizes a desktop app in order to record time. Users simply select the project they are working on and begin the timer.
The app will then record various information, capture random screenshots (an option that can be customized or turned off), track activity (based on keyboard and mouse usage) along with applications used and URLs visited.
Hubstaff is free for one user. For team plans, it starts at $7/user/month. The Hubstaff client can be installed on Windows, Linux, macOS, Chrome OS, iOS, Android.
4.2 TimeDoctor [Get TimeDoctor]
TimeDoctor is very similar to Hubstaff. It gives you detailed insights into how you spend your time so that you know where your weaknesses are and can improve them.
We haven’t used TimeDoctor in our organization but we know others that do and are happy with the results. Regarding price, it starts at $12/month for a user, goes up to $49/month for up to 5 users and continues based on your needs.
TimeDoctor can be used on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android and as a Google Chrome extension.
Other time tracking and productivity tools: Toggl.
5. Project Management Tools
There are many project management tools that come in different flavours. Over time we tested many of them but we decided to use only 2: Asana and Trello.
5.1 Asana [Get Asana]
Asana has been servicing individuals, small and big firms with easy communication and work style. It helps employers effectively monitor work progress and ensure that workers stay on track.
With Asana, teams can monitor workflow, stay organized, and informed on available or pending results. The application allows for posting or revisiting past work and making comments or reviews on tasks.
5.2 Trello [Get Trello]
When it comes to projects that are not complex, you might want to take a second look at Trello. With its design set around cards and boards, you can hardly miss anything.
It helps you keep all your work in check and share them easily. The application makes working with it not only easy but also allows integration with other services and applications.
You don’t have to install anything as you can use Trello in your browser but if you take it to go, it comes with iOS and Android apps.
The free version allows unlimited personal boards, cards and lists and up to 10 team boards. On a business plan which is $9,99 per month for each user, you get unlimited team boards and other features.
Other project management tools: Monday.com
6. Password Management Tools
As most of the services move into the cloud we get more and more passwords we have to remember. If we take into consideration that we use these tools on our computer, laptop and mobile phones and also share them with our coworkers a password manager is mandatory.
6.1 LastPass [Get LastPass]
With LastPass, you do not need to bother about your passwords. Not only does it help you create strong, reliable, and safe passwords, it also saves them for you. Now you can easily do what you have to do and not bother about passwords across your many applications. Or you can share a password with a coworker in seconds.
That not being all it offers, amazingly, it can recall information and help you avoid the stress of filling forms or handling payment details.
The free plan comes with a vault for every user, one to one sharing access on all devices and almost any other feature you need. Business plans start at $4/user/month and are suitable for up to 50 users.
6.2 Keepass [Get KeePass]
KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can store all your passwords in one database, which is locked with a master key.
The big difference between LastPass and KeePass is that KeePass is storing the passwords in a local database and not in the cloud. However, you can have the passwords available on all the devices if you store the database in a cloud service like Dropbox but it adds a security issue.
7. Cloud File Hosting Services
If you don’t yet have a service for storing and syncing your data in the cloud, you should seriously consider one.
Which you choose depends on the kinds of files you store, how much security you need, whether you plan to collaborate with other people and the devices you use.
7.1 DropBox [Get DropBox]
Dropbox is a cloud storage service, which means you can copy your files to the cloud and access them later, even if you’re using a different device. Also, you can share and synchronize them with your coworkers.
The Free plan comes with 2GB of storage, limited sync and no viewer history. The next individual plan is Plus, costs 11,9 euros when paid monthly and comes with 2TB of storage.
If we talk about business plans the standard one is 12 Eur/user/month and comes with 5TB of storage and sharing and collaboration tools. More details here.
7.2 Google Drive [Get Google Drive]
The personal plan of Google Drive allows you to store, share and access your files from any device, including the browser and comes with 15GB free storage.
The business version is part of Google Suite and comes with Google Docs and other tools. It starts at $8/user/month for 30GB storage space.
8. Remote access Tools
When you transfer your work remotely your access to other devices is mandatory. Maybe there are files on your computer in the office or tools that work only on that particular computer etc. That’s where remote access tools come in handy helping you access and use the devices like you were in front of them.
8.1 TeamViewer [Get TeamViewer]
TeamViewer is a handy all-in-one solution for remote control & support. You can use it to access remotely your own devices or devices of your colleagues when they need help and grant you access.
TeamViewer is free for non-commercial usage. With a Remote Access Annual Subscription plan of 119 euros, 1 user can access 3 assigned computers or servers.
With a Business license that costs 335 euros, one user can access up to 200 devices. More about prices here. You can install TeamViewer on the following operating systems: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome OS.
8.2 AnyDesk [Get AnyDesk]
AnyDesk is a popular remote desktop application that allows you to access all your programs, documents and files from anywhere. You may read here a full review here.
It comes with a built-in address book that keeps track of contacts/connections and enables users to view online status for collaborators.
AnyDesk can be installed on Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, ChromeOS, iOS, Android.
9. Cybersecurity Suite
The security of your data is mandatory so don’t take any risks. Install a security suite that will keep your computer and your data protected.
9.1 Bitdefender Small Office Security [Get Bitdefender Small Office Security]
Bitdefender protects your business against ransomware and all new and existing cyber threats and prevents data breaches and secures your clients’ personal and financial data.
Bitdefender costs you $99 yearly (with a 33% discount) and you may install it on up to 10 devices. You may install Bitdefender on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android.
9.2 Kaspersky Small Office Security [Get Kaspersky Small Office Security]
Kaspersky Small Office Security has been specifically designed for small offices. It combines the simplicity of home PC protection with special capabilities to keep your business safe. It costs $230 annually for 5 desktops and 5 mobile devices along with 1 file server. You can install it on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android devices.
10. Maintenance Tools – CCleaner [Get CCleaner]
CCleaner Professional Plus is a PC and Mac – enhancing toolkit that breathes new life into heavily used machines. Clears many areas of your computer including system area, browser cache and apps cache.
So here are 33 tools you can use to transform your organization into a remote one. It doesn’t matter if this is temporary due to COVID 19 pandemic or you are considering to go fully remote to make your team more productive and save funds on office rent.
I will list them once again:
- Team Communication – Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Facebook Workplace
- Conference: Zoom, Whereby, Webex, Google Meet, Google Hangouts
- Office Suite: Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, Zoho
- Project Management: Asana, Trello
- Time Tracking and Productivity: Hubstaff, TimeDoctor, Toggl
- Password Management: LastPass, Keepass, 1Password, DashLane, RoboForm
- Cloud File Hosting Services: Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box.com, Sync.com
- Remote access: AnyDesk, Teamviewer, Chrome Remote Desktop
- Cybersecurity Suite: Bitdefender Small Office Security, Kaspersky SO Suite
- Maintenance Tools: CCleaner
Disclaimer: As we are happy customers of most of these tools, I’ve added our affiliate links. If you don’t want to purchase through us simply search the tool name in Google.