Remote work is becoming an increasingly viable choice for many businesses and professions. Not only is it a great option for businesses with employees scattered across the globe, but remote work is also perfect for small companies that want to cut costs and slash commute times.
However, much is lost when a business says goodbye to the traditional office setting, and teams must deal with the added difficulty of communicating and managing projects together from far-flung locations.
That’s where all the great tools come in. In 2020, there’s an abundance of useful apps and tools for every platform to help employees deal with every aspect of remote work, including holding video conference calls, tracking time spent working, managing projects, and more. To narrow down the plethora of choices, we’ve compiled a guide to the best tools for every facet of remote work.
Project Management Software
Project management software is effective at allowing teams to coordinate and collaborate on large projects from different areas. For businesses with remote workers, using at least one of these tools is essential.
Asana is one of the best project management apps around. It allows project managers to set up tasks, assign team members, create daily to-do lists, and much more. The app features excellent synchronization with changes made in the web tool appearing instantly in the Asana mobile app.
An intuitive, free-to-use project management platform with a host of great features, including drag-and-drop-editing, a progress meter checklist, and automated email notifications. Trello makes it easy for team members to upload files straight from Google Drive or Dropbox accounts.
A project management tool with all the necessary features distinguished by its clean layout and great organization. Individual projects are self-contained with their own message board, list of tasks, and assigned team members.
An all-in-one business management app with all the usual project management features, along with bonus functions like invoicing and time tracking. Plutio is a great app for businesses that employ people from different countries as it’s available in 25 languages.
With its simple layout and user-friendliness, Teamwork is a great project management tool for folks that don’t have a lot of experience with running a business through the web. However, Teamwork also boasts a depth of features and offers integration with apps like Microsoft Office and Hubspot.
A team’s ability to communicate quickly and clearly is one of the most important aspects of remote work. Luckily, there’s a handful of great communication tools available for this specific purpose.
One of the best remote work communication tools available with tons of features and app integrations. Slack allows teams to communicate in different channels and includes a workflow builder feature that can automate routine actions and deliver important reminders.
With instant messaging, video conferencing, and the ability to create conference rooms, Zoom has it all. It’s no surprise that the tool has nearly 13 million monthly active users.
Around is a unique, new video chat app currently in early access that uses state-of-the-art AI-based filtering to cut out all but the user’s face and their voice. That means no echo, no noisy pets, no blaring car horns, just the voice and visage of the person on the call. The app is perfect for those working from a less-than-serene environment and is easy to use: simply fire it up in a Slack or share a link with a team member.
Microsoft’s popular video chat also offers a version designed specifically for businesses. It offers video conferencing, instant messaging, and the ability to collaborate on documents all in one package.
Includes all the features of Skype for Business but with a ton of added features like document collaboration and meeting scheduling that render it the ultimate remote work collaboration tool.
As part of Google’s G Suite, Google Hangouts is a video conferencing and communication tool boasting seamless integration with Google Drive, Google Calendar, and other G Suite apps.
Check out our roundup of Best U.S Cities for Remote Workers
Conference Call Software
Sometimes email and text messaging just doesn’t cut it: key aspects of projects are best discussed via voice calls or video conferencing, which is why a dedicated conference call platform is a crucial tool for any remote work-oriented business.
An all-in-one team messaging, video conferencing and cloud phone system available for nearly any device that delivers HD voice quality and connection from anywhere in the world.
A web conferencing platform that features a layered, intuitive interface and the ability to hold HD quality video meetings. Uberconference’s highly accurate voice intelligence component makes transcribing meetings effortless.
A simple, easy-to-use video conferencing app that allows businesses to hold online meetings with up to 1000 participants.
GoToMeeting is a web conferencing tool with support for 25 HD video feeds per session. The tool is safe to use thanks to its top-of-the-line 128-bit AES encryption and end-to-end SSL.
Vast Conference allows businesses to set up HD quality conference calls on their own or enlist operator assistance.
Alternating between several messaging apps and email accounts is a frustrating experience, and sometimes important messages can fall through the cracks. That’s where messaging aggregators come in, collecting all your messages from different platforms in one place so you never miss another key message.
Shift is a terrific messaging aggregator that condenses hundreds of different apps into one tool. You can connect all of your email accounts, as well as your favorite browser extensions like Grammarly and Lastpass.
With support for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype and many more, the IM+ messenger basically guarantees a 75% reduction in open browser tabs.
A cross-platform workspace browser that keeps your apps, email accounts, and more in one simple interface.
Trillian is a business-friendly messaging app with a ton of features available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and mobile. Free-to-use, the app is secure and connects to a wide swath of IM services and social media sites.
With support for Slack, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and more, Franz is a newcomer to the message aggregator scene that has become the go-to app of choice for many businesses.
Online Signature Tools
Running a business with remote workers means that not everyone will be on-hand to sign important documents. Thankfully, online signature tools allow team members to sign and send documents electronically with ease.
Used by over 16,000 companies, PandaDoc lets users create great-looking documents with its many custom themes and templates and have them signed and sent over the web, hassle-free.
SignNow is a cross-platform e-signature solution that lets you create documents, build automated workflows, accept payments, and more. A great tool for negotiating contracts across multiple time zones.
EverSign includes all the features of a great online signature tool including customizable templates, automated documents, and app integration with the added bonus of exception 256-bit SSL security.
The most widely-used and trusted online signature tool with over 200 million users around the world. DocuSign’s automation features are unparalleled and make the agreement process quick and easy.
A great e-signature tool offering integration with other Adobe products as well as Microsoft Office and Dropbox.
Internet Speed Test Sites
When you are working online, having a great, high-speed internet connection is key. Internet speed tests let you know the speeds you’re working with and allow you to address connection problems.
A streamlined, no-nonsense speed test that gives your ping, upload and download speeds, as well as the server you are connected to.
Tells you everything you need to know about your internet connection with a fun line graph visual.
Delivered by Netflix, Fast.com keeps it simple, giving just your download speed on a white background with the option of displaying more information.
TestMy.net offers three different speed test options, including download, upload, and automatic.
A handy mobile speed test app for iOS and Android that allows you to compare locations and share results with others.
Online security is a principal concern for businesses that conduct most of the work and communication over the web, which is why a good VPN (virtual private network) that encrypts your data and spoofs your IP address is an essential tool for remote workers.
NordVPN is one of the best VPNs available, boasting 5700 servers in 59 countries around the world. Prospective users can dip their toes by taking advantage of the 30-day moneyback guarantee.
One of the best VPNs available, Surfshark guarantees that your internet connection is secure and anonymous without sacrificing speed. It boasts over 1040 servers in 61+ countries and is available on almost any device, including macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, and Fire TV Stick.
ExpressVPN has a deserved reputation as the best VPN to use in China, where many western websites and social media platforms are blocked. Additionally, its high speeds are perfect for gaming and HD streaming.
With 15 years in the industry, CyberGhost offers a well-rounded VPN package that’s great for streaming, P2P torrenting, and working from public places where security isn’t the best. Boasts over 5700 servers in over 89 countries.
Unlike most VPNs, Switzerland-based ProtonVPN offers a free version, while paid subscribers receive unlimited bandwidth, P2P support, and support for up to 10 devices.
IPVanish is one of the most affordable VPNs around at just $3.25 a month if you commit to a year’s subscription. The service features over 1,300 servers and has a no-logs policy, so they won’t keep records of your traffic.
Time Zone Helpers
Remote workers are often hundreds or thousands of miles away from their team members, which can make project coordination and collaboration difficult. However, time zone helpers make the process easier by helping you keep track of every team member’s specific time zone.
Create and customize your own timeline that includes every team member. You can also share events that specify duration and location.
Spacetime is an excellent, user-friendly time zone app that helps you pinpoint and schedule meetings at the most convenient times for everyone. As an added bonus, the tool tells you the real-time weather in every team member’s location.
FIO (Figure It Out) is a great-looking chrome extension that unobtrusively keeps all your time zones sorted. The app features location compression (grouping up to three locations together in one time zone), the choice of a 24-hour or AM/PM clock, and auto-location generation.
Schedule your emails to be automatically sent at the perfect time so that they don’t get lost in the shuffle. You can also set up reminders or clear out emails from your inbox that you aren’t ready to read.
An iOS app that coverts time zones and automatically find the best times to schedule meetings for team members scattered across the globe. It also features a user-friendly interface and an interactive map.
A simple, yet convenient instant time zone converter tool on the web and iOS.
Screen Recording Software
When an email won’t cut it, a great video capture app will help you explain to a remote team member exactly what is needed to be done on an important project. With the best screen recording software, you can create tutorials and other helpful videos with ease.
Camtasia’s simple interface masks an abundance of features and editing options. Though using the software may seem daunting, the tutorial videos available will have you making videos in minutes. Camtasia is available for Windows, Mac, and iOS.
The self-described “most advanced screen recording software on the planet”, Bandicam is a vital work tool, but it’s also great for game recording thanks to its high compression ratios.
CloudApp is a streamlined screen capturing app for those who don’t need to buried under an overabundance of features. Create quick video tutorials, create GIFs, or snap screenshots with ease using this handy app available for most platforms.
Screenflow is more than just a screen capture tool, boasting top-of-the-line video editing features to help create great-looking tutorials and marketing videos.
Screencastify is the simplest screencasting solution. It’s a free chrome extension that fits in your web browser, requiring no installation, enabling users to start making videos in seconds. The app also features seamless integration with YouTube and Google Drive.
A terrific screen capture option for remote workers on a tight budget: OBS Studio is free and open-source software.
Loom is a great video capture tool that allows you to record and instantly share informative videos with team members in a much faster time than it takes to craft the perfect email.
A no-fuss, user-friendly video and image capture tool that allows users to grab what they need and share the content quickly.
How to keep track of and bill for one’s time is one of the trickiest aspects of remote work. These excellent time trackers are the perfect solution to the conundrum.
A fantastic time tracker that also features additional features like project budgeting and invoicing. Integrates smoothly with project management tools like Trello, Asana, and Basecamp.
Hourstack is a calendar-based time tracker and workflow optimizer boasting seamless integration with Office 365, Hubspot, Google Calendar, and more.
With its wide array of features and a 30-day free trial, Toggl gives more established time tracking apps a run for their money. A great feature is the ability to start tracking time on your web browser and stop tracking on another device.
Used by over 50,000 businesses, Harvest might be the most widely-used time tracking app on the market, and for good reason: Harvest makes tracking time and expenses simple and integrates with a long list of apps and tools.
In addition to time tracking, Hubstaff has cool features like GPS tracking, payroll, and invoicing. Users can try a free 14-day trial with no credit card input required.
Cloud storage is a necessity for nearly every business these days: business owners and employees need to be able to access important files and documents where ever they are, on whichever device they happen to be using.
With such a high ratio of remote workers using Macs and iPhones, it makes complete sense for folks to go with Apple’s iCloud service as their cloud storage platform of choice, which is affordable, secure, and reliable.
Google Drive is the other big cloud storage service. It earns points for being completely free, fast, and integrating excellently with other G Suite tools.
iDrive is the cloud storage service of choice for experts and professionals, offering high-end encryption and ease-of-use in backing up multiple devices and computers.
Microsoft’s cloud storage service, OneDrive offers up to 15 gigs of free storage space and works great with Office apps, offering the ability to simultaneously store files locally and in the cloud.
Box is a well-organized and easy to use cloud storage service that allows for multiple device integration and the ability to customize sharing permissions.
Dark Mode Extensions/Software
For remote workers that are irritated by bright white backgrounds, there’s a number of nifty browser extensions that will suitably darken your display.
Perhaps the most widely used dark mode Chrome extension, Dark Reader is great because it works on nearly every website and Google tool.
Dark mode separates itself from the pack with a neat assortment of styles and the ability to disable custom themes for specific sites.
In addition to its great name, Midnight Lizard is a unique dark mode extension because of its high customizability, allowing you to alter the colors for every component of the page. Available for both Chrome and Firefox.
It doesn’t get any darker than this: Super Dark Mode lets you darken almost every website as well as customize colors.
Another high-quality dark mode extension for Chrome that lets you play with different settings for brightness and contrast.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Staring at a screen for so many hours a day makes setting aside time to practice mindfulness essential. Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of great apps that will help you clear your mind and meditate peacefully.
One of the leading mindfulness apps, Calm offers a host of features to improve your meditation sessions and sleep in a gentle, unobtrusive fashion.
The other leading mindfulness app, Headspace is a bit quirkier in its appearance and presentation than Calm, but offers a host of nice features, including program training, a session timer, and tutorial videos.
A free meditation app with over 30,000 guided meditations by 5,000 teachers from around the world.
Put out by the best-selling author and philosopher Sam Harris, the Waking App includes a meditation timer, discussions with some of the world’s leading mindfulness practitioners, and a daily guided meditation by the man, himself.
A simple and accessible meditation app that stands out for its high level of customization and user-friendliness.
Although it does offer meditation courses, Glo is much more than a mindfulness app. Included are 4,000 yoga, pilates and meditation courses from a large selection of the best instructors from around the world. To begin, Glo asks you three basic questions in order to individualize your practice according to your needs.