Category Archives: Work From Home Tools

Tools to run a business remotely

In this blog, we discuss five of the best tools that help to run a remote business in 2021.

When it comes to running a business remotely, using all the tools at your disposal will make a difference between failure and success, but choosing the right remote business tools for your business is not an easy job.

Last year, many businesses had no choice but to make the transition to remote work, and although it was a challenging transition at first, many businesses had come to rely on all sorts of business tools to help them run their business remotely, from team management tools to hiring registered agents. Here are five of the most popular business tools that help businesses run remotely in 2021.

Zoom 

Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing software as businesses have made the transition to remote operation and employees have started working from home. With office meetings out of the question, Zoom is now about how most remote businesses can keep in touch, communicate and schedule daily meetings. Zoom allows remote businesses to conduct online meetings for up to 25 people, host video webinars, and share files and exchange messages through different platforms. Zoom also helps organizations to host virtual training sessions for new team members.

Google Drive

If your remote business consists of a very compact team that doesn’t manage a lot of paperwork and documents, Google Drive allows your business to store and share important documents almost instantly. Google Drive is more than just a document management tool, it lets you organize and store documents and collaborate with staff and team members in real-time, regardless of time zones and geographical locations. Users can create, share and access documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Their free plan allows 15GB of free storage and is available in the application form for both iOS and Android devices. 

Read Work Management Software – Why Your Team Needs Now?

Restyaboard

Working from home and managing a team or a specific project remotely can be challenging when you cannot keep tabs on what everyone is doing in the office. Restyaboard is the best visual project management tool that allows business owners as well as staff members to assign tasks to individuals or groups of employees, customize their workflow, and keep track of how ongoing projects are progressing. Restyaboard has one of the most comprehensive sets of features other project management tools. It is based on a board system and allows staff members to create project templates, budget dashboards, schedule and prioritize tasks, and so much more to boost productivity and efficiency.  

Using a Registered Agent 

While working remotely has its benefits, it’s hard to do it on your own, and that’s where third-party assistance comes in. Hiring a Registered Agent is the best way of outsourced support that a remote business may have. Every business needs an appointed Registered Agent, and while you can serve as a Registered Agent of your remote business, there are certain requirements. If you’re not always available during business hours, or your remote business doesn’t have a physical address, hiring a registered agent service is your best option. The Registered Agent Service will serve as your point of contact with the department, collect essential documents on your behalf and help you remain in compliance.

Also, read 15 Productivity Tools for Your Remote Team

Team Viewer

When running a remote business, finding ways to support your distributed team is important, and when simple screenshots are no longer enough, Team View is one of the best business tools to help give employers remote access to their team’s work and provide support when needed. Team Viewer allows staff members to access one another’s computers if the application is installed on all devices and everyone is provided with the necessary login information. It is a truly reliable tool when business owners need to have secure access to work devices and documents.

Find the right combination that works for you

These are some of the best business tools that remote businesses can use to operate efficiently. The above tools cover all aspects of remote business management, including team and document management tools, as well as various remote support tools. Most remote businesses use a combination of the above-mentioned tools or others like it. It’s all about finding the right tools that work for you, your team, and, of course, your budget.

2020 has forced the whole world to work remotely. It has also made people realize that remote work works. But remote work is not all rainbows and unicorns. It is a challenging feat to pull off. It can be difficult to keep your head around managing a distributed team. But if you have the right productivity tools in your magazine, you can cultivate an empowering, rewarding, and effective remote work environment for your team.

While you will see many remote productivity tools on the web, we’ve rounded up the best ones to bring your team’s remote work experience to a new level. Let’s check each of these productivity tools and how they benefit your remote team. 

Productivity Tools for Remote Work

Team Collaboration Tools

Collaboration can be tricky when you need to keep work flowing smoothly despite geographical distance and time differences. Everything must be accessible to everyone at any given time. Communication must be instantaneous and seamless. This helps teams get an experience as close to how they would normally collaborate with their teammates when they’re co-located. Invest in these productivity tools to ensure there are no blockers to team collaboration.

Team Chat App

Slack is widely used by remote teams worldwide. It’s easy to set up and organize topics into channels. Direct messaging is also seamless. You can bring all the project discussions into one place. You can also make calls and screen share within Slack. 

Cloud Storage and File Sharing App

This might be a close call between Google Drive and Dropbox. Both are widely used by remote teams for its ease of use and accessibility. Even with a free plan, you get a generous amount of storage to start with. You also get full control of how you share your files. 

Read Best Tools To Support Remote Work in 2020

Video Conferencing App

Zoom is a strong contender for this one. I find video calls in Zoom are more stable than other apps. It’s a reliable option, especially for big team video meetings. You can also do screen sharing and collaborate on an online whiteboard. You can use Zoom Breakout Rooms to split your discussions into groups if you ever need to have smaller focused groups.

Video calls are far more effective than communicating through email or a phone call. You can see your teammates’ gestures and expressions and makes you feel more connected to them.

Connectivity

Stable and consistent connectivity is important for remote teams. These productivity tools will help your team stay connected anywhere and anytime they need to.

Mobile Hotspots or Pocket WiFis

While your teams may have reliable and fast internet at home, it’s recommended to have a backup. This ensures everyone can get to work anywhere or when their internet home connection is down. Your teammates should check with their local internet providers and see what options are available. What I usually do is ask for recommendations from my teammates living nearby or through online remote workgroups I’m a member of.    

Remote Desktop App

There will be times when your teams will need to access their office desktop remotely. If this is a requirement, having a remote desktop app will be beneficial. Some popular options are TeamViewer and Chrome Remote Desktop

Security

You need to ensure all your team files and assets are secure and only those who have authorized access can get into your systems. Security tools are one of the most important productivity tools your team needs to have. With security in mind, maximum productivity is achieved.

Password Manager

There are free and paid apps that your team can use. A popular paid option is Dashlane. It even comes with a VPN and secure file storage. It can even scan the dark web for data breaches and will notify you if your data has been compromised. But it can be a little pricey. So another option to look at is LastPass. It comes with a free version and even has multi-factor authentication as an added security layer. Even with the paid version, it’s still reasonably priced. 

Multi-factor Authentication

Most apps come with two-factor or multi-factor authentication and we highly encourage your teams to enable this feature. When generating tokens, you can use an authenticator app such as Google Authenticator

VPN

While we strongly discourage using public Wi-Fi when working remotely, sometimes it cannot be helped. But when using public networks, security can’t be guaranteed. To keep your remote teams secure wherever they are, require the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN). VPNs create secure tunnels that mask or encrypt any data you send and receive on the fly. For all these security-related productivity tools, check with your IT department on the best options.

Time Management

Time management can be difficult when working remotely. It can be challenging to establish a fine line between your house chores and your work responsibilities when you work from home. This is why time management is very important. Productivity tools that focus on time management help you get more done with whatever time you have. 

Time Tracking

Time trackers shouldn’t be seen as the ultimate gauge of productivity. Instead, it should be seen as a tool to understand the time consumed on work and how best to improve it. If you’re a team manager, having your team members track their time while they work remotely can provide valuable insights as to where their time is being spent on. You can then review with them how it aligns with their goals. You may also see some indicators of work inefficiency through time data. Time Doctor and Restyaboard are some of the well-known team time tracking apps in the market. It also has reporting and analytics that will come in handy for remote team managers.

Scheduling

I’m a firm believer in the saying, “What gets scheduled gets done.” Anything else that pops up in the middle of the day that is NOT in your schedule, shouldn’t be your main focus. Scheduling and planning are essential productivity techniques that remote workers should master. It’s hard to stay motivated when working alone. So you have to encourage your team to develop discipline and structure. 

We recommend using a calendar app that’s already integrated with your other work tools such as your email. This way, it’s easier to sync them to your other activities like meeting invites, events, and other alerts.

Task Management

Every team should have a task management tool, especially for your remote team. Your task management tool should be easily accessible, secure, and has the right features to encourage collaboration within your project teams right then and there. It’s one of the productivity tools remote teams can’t live without as this essentially becomes their virtual office. 

Restyaboard is a project and task management tool that allows teams to collaborate on projects in one place. It’s a highly visual tool that enables teams to maintain transparency and achieve seamless collaboration. Restyaboard is much more than just a Kanban board. It’s built around the Kanban methodology and has rich and easy-to-use features that bring out the in-person work experience into the virtual setting. What’s great about this is you not only have a productivity tool, but you and your team will also have a framework to manage your work.

Focus

One of the key elements to productivity is maintaining focus. Our attention gets challenged every second. There are plenty of distractions especially when you work from home or remotely. What may seem to be a harmless 5-min check on your Social Media feed could turn out to a 30-min waste of time. Focus apps are essential productivity tools to instill discipline and accountability. 

I like using the Pomodoro Technique especially during times when I need to engage in deep work. You can use any online timer available or even use a physical one that you’d put on your desk. You could also explore focus apps that limit your access to and alerts from social media apps and even your email inbox. The important thing is to keep unnecessary distractions to a minimum or none at all when you need to focus on work. Share these focus-centered productivity tools with your remote team to supercharge their efficiency.

Automation

Repetitive manual tasks can be a pain. If a task is done repetitively and routinely, there’s a big chance it can be automated. Your team can then spend that time doing more meaningful work. Automation means taking your time back and letting technology steer the wheel. Automation tools are undoubtedly one of the top productivity tools every remote team should have.

Discuss with your remote team what process steps are candidates for automation. Some examples would be consolidating information and transferring task lists from one system to another. After you’ve identified your candidates for automation, explore automation tools such as IFTTT or other web-based service apps that enable system integration without or with minimal coding involved.

Employee Engagement

Happiness and engagement at work affect employee productivity. As a remote team manager, you should also stay on top of your team’s overall well-being. Remote working can be tough on your team’s mental health, so it’s important to check with them every so often. It’s also best to have programs that are designed to encourage employee engagement. 

Virtual Team Building

Who says remote workers can’t have fun? It’s all about being creative and resourceful. Even though your team is not co-located, schedule team-building activities every so often. You can use your video chat tool to facilitate this event and use an online whiteboard to do some charades or to do some team quizzes. 

I also encourage you to schedule virtual celebrations for team and project milestones. This will help your team feel more connected to the rest of the company and stay engaged. 

Rewards and Recognition 

It’s always a different feeling when you’re recognized for a job well done. And it’s these kinds of things that can easily get forgotten when working remotely. But it’s one of those “indirect” productivity tools that will help managers reap more rewards. When employees are appreciated, they are encouraged to do better. This creates a culture of meritocracy and makes your employees feel they are contributing to the company even if they’re working remotely. 

Rewards and recognition tools can be as simple as sending virtual gift cards to your top performers and recognizing them during your virtual town halls. You can also go a step further and use a rewards and recognition platformApart from peer to peer recognition and in-app rewards, it also has social media and gamification that makes a fun and innovative engagement program.

Investing in Productivity Tools for Remote Workers

If you want your remote team to succeed, you need to invest in the right productivity tools to support them. And whether you like it or not, remote work is here to stay. More companies will shift to this model and more employees will expect and demand flexible working arrangements. But having the right productivity tools is only half the battle. Your remote teams should also have the right mindset when it comes to productivity. You need to make them realize that these tools are not meant to restrict them but to empower them and bring team collaboration to a whole new level. This will create a culture that’s uplifting, empowering, and productive for remote work.

In 2020, the working world was turned on its head, and most of us will have to learn quickly how best to Work From Home.

It seemed that working life was beginning to return to normal as lockdown eased, a long journey accompanied by a two-screen set up next to colleagues, as several companies steadily returned to the workplace.

But, with cases on the rise and the government asking us to work from home if we can, it seems that for the long term, we need to strap in tight. If you haven’t already downloaded them, here are 10 essential apps that will make going Work From Home full time again that much more organized…

1. Wave Invoicing

If you’re self-employed, keeping on top of your invoicing can be a real pain. But no invoices means no money, so that’s not an option. Wavelets you create and send personalized invoices, check their payment status, and automatically send reminders when one is overdue. No need to send the boys round. 

2. Expensify

Collecting receipts for your expense claims is not only a hassle, it often ends up with a late night in the office submitting them. Expensify isn’t the first app to process receipts using your phone’s camera, but its automatic sorting, GPS mileage capture, and automated reimbursements make it easier than ever. 

3. Otter Voice Meeting Notes

Otter is a voice recorder with a difference. Rather than spending whole meetings taking notes (and then promptly forgetting what half of them refer to), let the app record everything and it’ll use artificial intelligence to transcribe the conversation — it even splits the resulting text into different speakers. 

4. Slack

Sick of getting CC’d into about 50 email chains a day? Slack is a bit like a work chatroom, complete with mentions and notifications, easy file sharing, and invite-only channels for any need-to-know business. Don’t worry, you can still send private messages, so virtual office gossip is still very much on the agenda. 

5. FreshBooks

While Wave is great for invoicing and Expensify does what it says on the tin, FreshBooks is more of an all-in-one accounting tool. It also handles invoices and expenses, but throws in task-tracking, communication with clients, and allows you to take credit card payments. It’s both simple and powerful — the perfect combination. 

Read Free Tools To Handle Your ”Work From Home” Day Easier

6. Flow

If words and numbers aren’t your things, regular note-taking apps won’t be either. With its wide range of drawing tools and canvas types, Flow by Moleskine Studio is ideal for everything from rough sketches to detailed designs, particularly when combined with Apple’s Pencil stylus, plus it backs everything up to the cloud.

7. SignEasy

Having to physically sign documents is a pain in the biro, particularly if you don’t own a printer, but SignEasy makes the process entirely digital. Import the document from your email or cloud storage, sign on your device’s screen with your finger, and send it back. No pen or paper is required.

8. Dropbox

There are loads of cloud storage services out there but Dropbox offers a whole host of collaborative features while remaining secure and user-friendly. It allows you to access files from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection, with generous storage space and support for plenty of different platforms.

9. Restyaboard

With lots of people likely to be working remotely for the foreseeable future, managing a project can be pretty challenging. Restyaboard’s team and task management tools are ideal for making sure stuff gets done on time without too many late nights or last-minute panics. 

10. PayPal Here

You’ve probably used PayPal when buying stuff off eBay, but if you run a business that takes payments in person, particularly with shoppers being urged to use plastic instead of cash, PayPal Here lets you charge cards using your phone. You can even add a card reader to speed things up.

Remote work has been a popular advantage among employees. Here are 5 tech tools that do businesses to support remote work and effectively manage remote performance.

The world of work has undergone a significant change in the last few months. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, companies around the globe had to move to remote operations — some for the very first time.

Although change has not been without its challenges, it has also been a positive development in many ways. Remote work has long been a popular advantage among employees, who are generally happier and more productive when they are allowed to do telecommunications. And once people start working from home, they don’t want to go back: 99 percent of remote employees said they want to work remotely for the rest of their careers at least some time. It’s no wonder why: Remote work can provide employees with a better work/life balance, provide a sense of autonomy, and save a lot of stress (especially when you consider how frustrating the morning journey is for some people).

Yet, as with most things worth having in life, remote work arrangements aren’t easy. They require time to roll out effectively and effort to maintain themselves over the long term. Managers need training on how best to support remote employees, and companies need to provide remote workers with the tools and resources they need to do their jobs off-site.

If you don’t have the right technology in place, remote work can easily become an aggravating and isolating experience for employees. So what tools do businesses need to support remote work and effectively manage remote performance? Below are five types of tech tools that are essential to every remote work initiative:

1. Task Management Software

Whether they’re working remotely or on-site, employees can only stay productive if they know what they are doing, what is expected of them, and when their tasks are due. Keeping track of all that information can be difficult, especially for remote employees and their managers. That’s where project and task management software comes in.

Tools like Restyaboard allow employees and their managers to set priorities, assign tasks, and establish deadlines. Perhaps most importantly, they also foster accountability by allowing all involved parties to track progress toward tasks together. Ultimately, task management solutions facilitate effective communication and crystal-clear expectations, two vital drivers of success in a remote work environment.

2. Time-Tracking Software

This is an admittedly controversial topic, and many managers believe tracking employees’ time is more harmful than helpful. They argue that the time spent on work isn’t as important as the work that is achieved, and therefore companies should monitor goal progression and task completion instead of hours at a desk. Some leaders also worry that mandating time-tracking software indicates a lack of trust in employees, which can ultimately result in decreased productivity and morale.

However, for organizations just getting started with remote work for the first time, time-tracking software can help to smooth the transition by assuring managers that work is being done. Certain tools, like Restyaboard, even take periodic screenshots of employees’ screens, so managers can see what they’re actually up to.

Read How to Manage a Remote Team Effectively During COVID-19 Pandemic

3. Performance Management Software

Performance management needs to be carefully planned when employees are working remotely. Managers need to make a special effort to maintain regular communication, deliver feedback, and check-in with employees to ensure they are getting all the support they need.

Tracking the performance of a large virtual team can be a difficult task, especially if you are meeting with your employees on a weekly or monthly basis to discuss performance, as most forward-thinking companies are doing today. To keep on top of performance, progress, and productivity, companies should consider investing in cloud-based performance management software. Such software facilitates remote check-ins, helps track objectives and key results, and monitors individual employee development while also tracking team goals.

Remember, while remote work can offer many benefits, some employees may find it isolating at times. Your performance management system should be designed to support employees of all kinds through the building of relationships and the encouragement of continuous communication.

4. Team Communication Tools

The reality is that communication is very different when your employees work off-site. They can’t bond near the water cooler. They can’t simply turn around to ask their colleagues a question or pop by their manager’s office to discuss an issue they may be having.

Most remote teams rely on team communication tools such as Slack to facilitate in-the-moment discussions between colleagues and managers. Many contemporary team communication tools allow for the creation of various channels dedicated to different topics, including informal channels where employees with common interests can socialize virtually with one another. What’s more, with team communication tools, you can spare yourself a lot of unnecessary emails.

While platforms like Slack are great for quick connections, they cannot fully replace face-to-face communication, which fosters relationships and maintains levels of engagement in ways that chat platforms simply cannot. That’s why your team communication tools should also include videoconferencing software like Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom. These can be especially effective venues for team meetings or one-on-one performance conversations.

5. Cloud Storage and File-Sharing Services

Because your remote team members will be distributed around various locations, you will need a central cloud-based storage solution where employees can easily save and share important files. Google Drive has become a popular solution for this purpose; its functionality that allows multiple employees to work on one document simultaneously makes it an especially powerful collaboration tool.

File-sharing services can prevent a lot of the confusion that arises when many different versions of the same file are flying around. With everything saved and securely stored on the cloud, you can also be sure no important information will be compromised by tech problems on the employee’s end.

If you don’t handle your time well, it can take all the hours of your day to work from home before you know it.

Besides, even after all that, monitoring all the tasks you’ve managed to get done, and the things you still need to do could become incredibly difficult for you.

So, if you need any support to work harder, quicker, and more effectively, you may want to consider these three programs that are designed to help you establish a discipline of work, and in return also leave you with time to spend with your family, free of guilt.

Forest

If you find yourself wasting time reviewing WhatsApp messages or TikTok videos and reaching for your camera, try Forest.

Not only does this software help you reduce the use of smartphones while you’re working, but it will also help you incorporate the Pomodoro technique into your everyday scheme.

Francesco Cirillo — an entrepreneur and an author — invented this technique in the early 1990s, which he named after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his own student research.

Here’s how it works: Pick a task you want to complete; set an alarm for 25 minutes and work tirelessly on that task until the alarm rings.
Then take a brief five-minute break for the next 25 minutes before you get back to the job at hand. Take a longer 25-minute break after every four 25-minute work sessions before you start working again.

You start with a virtual seed which you plant in Forest. And this seed keeps growing into a tree for as long as you can resist the temptation to reach out for your camera. If you leave the app to do something else on your computer, the tree will willow away. The app sounds an alert after 25 minutes, letting you take your break.

Forest is free for Android users but is available on iOS only as a paid version. Choose a paid account on Android and you’ll get the same premium features as the iOS version: Software developers will plant real trees for your accomplishments in Forest, you’ll be able to white-list work-related applications on your computer, and you’ll even get accurate statistics on what’s your most successful hour, as well as the most successful one.

StayFocusd

Sounds familiar to this? You sit down to work, and three hours later, the next thing you know. In the meantime, you’ve changed your Facebook profile, scrolled through your Twitter feed, watched a bunch of YouTube “reaction” videos and even googled your college crush.

Now, to get your job finished on time, you’ll need to remove all kinds of internet distractions, and that’s where StayFocusd comes in This browser extension for Google Chrome lets you focus on work by minimizing the amount of time you can spend on favourite websites.

Build a list of non-work websites you are addicted to and key in the amount of time you are permitted to “waste” on them. After the allotted time is used, StayFocusd will block certain websites for the remainder of the day.

This “tough-love” tool is highly configurable: you can block entire sites, specific subdomains, routes, pages, even material in the pages (videos, games, images, shapes, etc.).

And the StayFocusd extension can’t even cheat by disabling it. You can not delete a link from its website

When your maximum time for the day has been reached, “Blocked Pages” list, and you can only do it the next day.

Those who use a Firefox browser can use the extension LeechBlock NG which does the same job.

Restyaboard

Kanban is the Japanese word for signboard and a Kanban-style work- management tool is one that uses a dashboard-like interface to give you a columnar overview of the tasks—whether daily, weekly, monthly, or even project-wise—that need to be done.

Now, there are quite a few Kanban-style apps and websites that will help you manage your time, but Restyaboard is still one of the best.

Start a free account on Restya.com for access to a very flexible interface that will help you plan your week, and even micromanage your day.

You can, for instance, create a Kanban board that’s broken up into daily time blocks such as 9 am–11 am, 11.15 am–1 pm, 2 pm–3.30 pm, 4 pm–5.30 pm.. and accordingly create tasks for each of those blocks.

Restyaboard’s drag-and-drop interface is user friendly, but you can head to its YouTube channel for tutorials and tips on how to leverage on its multiple features effectively. For every job you list on your dashboard, you can add a description, checklists, due date, comments, and even add collaborators.

Having your day planned for you will allow you to be more efficient and even give you a sense of purpose for each day.