7 Tools I Could Not Live Without When Working Remotely

by · July 11, 201414 comments

In my last post, I shared a few tips to help you set yourself up for success as a remote-worker. But, getting setup is just the beginning. It takes organization, simplification and the help of several tools to stay efficient.

Here are the seven tools I rely on to be efficient, effective and to exceed expectations during any given workday:

Basecamp There is nothing more stressful than not having what you need, when you need it. Basecamp is a project management tool that helps you keep everything and everyone in one place. At SME Digital, the agency arm of Social Media Explorer, we use Basecamp for all client and internal projects. Having all communication, meeting notes, deliverables and files in one place, accessible to all internal team members and clients makes projects run smoothly. We also use the task feature that allows us to assign “to-dos” to specific people with a due date to serve as a reminder.

Success ToolsAccessible via computer or mobile, Basecamp is the best project management tool I’ve come across. It runs in the cloud on secure servers, so technical issues are few and far between (I’ve been on Basecamp for over a year and have not had an issue yet). There are tons of additional features I have not touched on in this brief summary, so be sure to check it out for yourself.

Boomerang This Gmail plug-in allows you to decide when to send and receive emails in Chrome, Firefox and Safari. This tool has become a lifeline, as I’m often drafting emails in the late evening hours. The ability to schedule emails to deploy at specified times keeps my communication within business hours so no one is disrupted during their personal time and also eliminates the chance of forgetting to actually send the message at a later time. Another cool feature is its ability to “boomerang” an incoming email, which schedules an incoming email to reappear at a later time, as determined by you. Depending on your work situation, your scheduled emails may stack up. At any time you can access a list of all scheduled messages and reschedule or cancel them.

DropBox A virtual company requires a reliable, easily accessible and secure server. SME Digital has found DropBox for Business to be exactly that. Its real-time syncing and accessibility from desktop, web, or mobile makes accessing files a breeze.

Join.Me No virtual company is complete without an online meeting and screen sharing solution. There are several services out there (including GoToMeeting and StartMeeting), but I have found Join.Me to be the most reliable in terms of connection. Most of our internal and client meetings at SME Digital take place via conference call and shared screens and we need a tool that can be easily shared with current and future clients that does not require any downloads or subscriptions. Join.Me is intuitive, simple, and my virtual meeting service of choice.

KanbanFlow Inspired by Toyota’s lean engineering process, Kanban (Japanese for “sign” or “visual board”) boards are a visual representation of project management. The Kanban system uses virtual sticky notes on a whiteboard to give you a visual overview of your current work situation. I love this tool because it gives me a simple way to stay organized, know exactly where I am on any project and sure beats a “To-Do” list. You can fly solo on this or connect with team members for further collaboration. The human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, so take some strain off your brain and get visual.

Toggl Ditch the outdated timesheet and get on board with this simple time tracking tool. Whether by web, desktop widget or mobile app (Android or iOS), this digital solution offers one-click start and stop tracking in real-time, or manual entry, which keeps this daunting task from being a hassle. Toggl offers time breakdowns so you can see how your time is really spent. Tagging and flagging options help you organize specific projects and designate billable vs. non-billable time.

15five This feedback system plays a vital role in keeping the SME Digital team connected, offering a way to communicate any issues or problems, celebrate wins (both big and small), and get a pulse on the overall team morale. The idea of this tool is to keep all team members engaged and informed by providing every employee a brief digital form to fill out that should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. The form is then reviewed by his or her manager in five minutes or less. Our team is taking full advantage of this internal communication tool and we especially love the opportunity to share exciting happenings that may go unmentioned on weekly calls.

If you manage a remote team, be sure to check out Jason Spooner’s latest post, Seven Tips For Leading a Team That Works Remotely.

These are the tools that I find most helpful. What tools would you add to this list?

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About Danielle Terreri

Danielle Terreri

Danielle Terreri specializes in helping brands deliver powerful, creative, and most importantly, effective, messages in the best way. Her passion for strategic communication and branding from ideation through execution aligns with her role as Content Marketing Manager at SME Digital, the digital consultancy behind Social Media Explorer. Danielle has results-driven experience in the social, digital and traditional marketing fields. She’s also the proud mother of Lola, a 12 pound Maltese-Shih Tzu, and is a world traveler always ready for the next adventure.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Alex Hobbs

    I rely on my hosted desktop from http://www.rtwhosting.com that unifies everything I have in the office and makes it securely accessible form any device

  • Alex Hobbs

    oh and I should also say the remote IT support that I get from http://www.backbone.uk.com

    • DanielleSME

      I will have to check this out!

  • TheJayKelly

    We just implemented SoCoCo today (SoCoCo.com) and I have a feeling that you will be adding that to your list very soon!

    • DanielleSME

      Looking forward to checking it out, Jay!

  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    I had forgotten about Join.me, cool site. But you could just use a Google+ Hangout instead.. And it’s free!

  • ryan

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Thanks for sharing your Blog with others. You really share valuable information.This is one of the best articles that I’ve seen so far about this topic. Good job.flower delivery service mumbai

  • http://www.kingged.com/ Sunday

    When it comes to the use of different tools, it is different strokes for different folks. While the seven tools shared here are peculiar with you, I cannot be agree with your picks because I have used at least five of these. I have used Basecamp and Boomerang before but I guess I would like to! :D

    I found this post shared on kingged where I upvoted it:

    http://kingged.com/7-tools-live-working-remotely/

  • http://kingged.com/ Metz

    These tools sound interesting! Dropbox is the one and only
    tool I am familiar with (actually, I use this tool until now). I will put
    DropBox forward. It’s very useful if you have files you wanted to access
    anywhere in the world.

    I will try to check the 6 others and observe what are the
    things it can do to me.

    Well, thanks for sharing this article with us!

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the IM social networking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  • Axel

    If this is one of those what tools is missing posts, I’ll throw Intuit’s Quickbase into the ring. Managing contractors and freelancers’ projects around the country without it would be difficult to say the least.

  • George Cook

    I’d recommend you to give a try to Proofhub.com as well. Best solution to work from remote locations. Have a look.

  • Carrie

    Thank you for the list of cool products, I have discovered for myself 15five. Regarding timesheet, instead of Toggl I would recommend using actitime (www.actitime.com). I tried many time tracking softwares, but actitime is the best one.

  • http://www.arttechint.com/ Suraj Rai

    I am really impressed with your post. Nowadays everyone wants to save time and get result fast that time these tools are very helpful to everyone. You shared good tools list for internet users. Thank to share this great post.

  • http://scootersparts.net/ ScootersParts

    These are all cool programs. We use most of them. Virtually all cost little bit of your $ per month per user.