I remember traveling to an east coast client meeting in 2010 and needing a document I forgot to bring with me.
Fortunately, I had a copy in my Dropbox app (more below).
I went to a desktop computer, accessed Dropbox, and downloaded that file.
Everyone looked at me like I had superpowers then because many people had not seen anyone use the Dropbox app.
Today, with the growing concern about avoiding exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), working from home (a.k.a. “remote work” and “telecommuting”) is becoming more popular with both employers and employees.
But, working outside of an office may be very challenging without the right tools to use.
Working From Home Is Increasingly Popular
World at Work reports 43% of U.S. businesses will allow remote Work within the next year. Another report, from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, states older workers (ages 40-65) are more likely to work from home.
As you can see in this chart, working from home is growing in popularity.
The percentage of people working from home has increased by 159% in the last 12 years.
This increase in remote workers requires the right tools to meet or to exceed productivity and connectivity expectations from employers.
9 Tools for Work-from-Home / Remote Workers
The best tools for the modern remote worker can destroy the ceiling on limitations. As a remote worker, you will be responsible for ensuring your work products, communications with your distributed team, stakeholders, and clients are as seamless as possible.
These tools are essential, not just a luxury, to bring value to your Work and the virtual workplace.
Working remote tools are mobile-friendly and cloud-based yet easily accessible to you, your team, and your clients.
Below are nine apps for both laptops and mobile phones, Mac and Windows, that I find helpful.
To Stay Organized and Up-to-Date
This article explains how both apps work together on projects when multiple people are collaborating and sharing ideas, can exchange files and links in real-time. Remote workers can also converge on concepts, work products, or casual conversations using video.
Working away from the human, face-to-face touch of team members can be very lonely. For a remote worker, seeing someone’s face is the best connection you can have to conduct business without a personal touch.
All four apps are useful to distributed teams for face-to-face communication for real-time conversations. Only Zoom offers FREE audio and video recording for a one-on-one discussion. Zoom also provides 40 minutes FREE for multi-users.
Where will you store the volume of Work you are doing as a distributed worker? A virtual file cabinet!
I’ve been a Dropbox user since 2010 and have files safely stored and secured since. It’s similar to a file cabinet, but it’s portable.
If you or your team needs a cloud solution for file storage, they offer a free version or, for a small cost, a version multi-user business account. Both are excellent ways to maintain private files and to keep them accessible to clients.
It syncs all mobile devices. The mobile app offers additional password security, primarily when files exist on your mobile device.
If Dropbox is like a file cabinet, then Evernote is a portable note pad or notebook.
For years I used the free version, but a year ago, I caught the yearly $40 special and bought the subscription. With its scanner, you can store multi-page documentation in a digital format.
The search for terms makes it easy to save passwords, credit cards, or documents, and it’s as secure as Dropbox’s settings for security. You can even send your remote work team notes from your Evernote.
WhatsApp (messaging across the world)
Remember those expensive phone calls and text messages from your mobile phone plan? Yeah, me too.
The solution to an international distributed team is the WhatsApp that allows you to text, video message, or share links to anyone. The big draw for this app is the money it saves on international text messaging, voice, and video calling.
Receiving digital documents are annoying if you need to print, physically sign, and scan to send the signed document back. DocuSign is my personal choice for a mobile app to help you sign documents, business or personal, on the go.
DocuSign is easy to implement when receiving a PDF file or Word document, signing it, and sending it back. Or import documents from cloud services such as Google Drive, Evernote, or Dropbox to sign and save to the portal of your choice.
To Communicate Securely
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Your company or client may provide some security software making your work products more secure. But, anytime you work away from home on another WiFi network, for additional security, you need to use a VPN.
I have a subscription to IP Vanish, making my IP address invisible on any WiFi network safe from predators who want to attack you via your Internet use.
Norton LifeLock has a suite to include a VPN and a security suite to use its software on all of your mobile devices. Your device can reach the network and encrypts your IP to protect against cyber predators, and conceals your personal information.
Even when on vacation, a client or coworker may need a signature, confirmation, or a video call from you.
WiFi Map helps you find the nearest available WiFi network. Although the strength of WiFi signals are not created equally, at least the app will provide options.
I was once at a Starbucks near a wireless mobile store where the mobile WiFi signal was so powerful, and it was much faster to connect using it rather than the Starbucks one. Both showed up on the map, but, in my case, it did not matter which had a more reliable signal.
Add another layer of security by using LastPass free version. It allows you to store passwords through all of your devices.
Since safety and personal information for all apps are essential, strong passwords are a crucial part of maintaining security. If you have more than one device, this is a helpful app to use.
You may consider their low price of $3 per month for the premium, but read this article to understand the difference between free and premium versions.
The Bottom Line:
These tools will provide a powerful distributed work experience for remote workers when time is invested. They are not just productivity tools, but also communication necessities needed across all mobile devices. Most of the useful mobile tools are budget-friendly and, usually, adaptable to the remote work experience you desire.
The original article was published on job-hunt.org!
Most of us favor our jobs over our livelihoods. We favor it as much as we do our right-hand. And it’s human nature, we use our left-hand only when our right-hand is rendered or declared useless. Similarly, we do the same if when our jobs lay us off, or we become useless, and then we consider new skills. Now, we’re going to make this left-hand useful because the right-hand has worth, but the job market says it’s useless.
Years ago, teachers used to make children who were left hand use their right hand. There have been studies that have documented the plight of left-handed people, and especially children. Left-handed people are not cursed, but there are fewer than right-handed people.
We’re so used to depending on the right hand
In many ways, left-handed people were practically hazed and treated indifferently. As a society, we are right-handed and refer to the right-hand as the stronger hand.
Losing a job under any circumstance is the same as losing your right-hand (or left). For many, self-worth came from the job as did the monetary, relationship, and some emotional needs. The right-hand was the primary tool for everything, just like the job.
The left-hand is the default hand. The left rides shot-gun to support the right. Until the job was gone, the left-hand had a limited role. When the time came to learn how to write left-handed, there were no other choices.
I wrote on LinkedIn and Facebook recently,
In offer some job search advice, I decided to include some Bill Withers musings: Bill’s wife Marcie had an MBA, Bill cleaned toilets while in the Navy. His first major recording was published at 33 years old (that’s 50 in today’s pop music scene). This breaks all the rules for career change today. And breaks all of the dating advice about women who shouldn’t date “down.”
Although we live in a right-handed world, to write left-handed is not natural or advised for most of us. Many of us will learn to write left-handed when this COVID19 crises is over. You will have use or learn skills you don’t know now. You’ll be asked to write left-handed and you won’t.
You’ll realize that you should have learned years ago. Proud you’re old school? You’ll need to dismantle your resistance to write left-handed. Get ready to write left-handed. This is “Job Search 3.0!” Listen to the word of this song about a soldier who lost his right hand in battle. He has someone write a letter home to tell his family what happened to him.
Many will be forced to use the left-hand.
Remote working might be your left-hand. Communication could be your lefty.
Many have already given up or settle for whatever happens. The literal use of the left have similarities, to job loss and learning the other possibilities, skills, and purpose. Your responses may fit the ones below, trying to write left-handed:
- I can’t write left-handed at all. People are not learning new skills until a crisis. They hope someone saves them. Prepare your career long before losing your job, and before the writing is on the wall.
- I can’t understand my writing at all. You get a few points for trying, but you haven’t used other job skills much at all. It takes patience, but you must keep trying to enhance work skills. No one says that using another talent or learning another profession would be easy.
- This is so strenuous. You neglected your left hand for most of your life unless you became injured. If you ignored a specific skill set because someone else you didn’t need it, you no one else to blame. Take charge of your career.
- I barely wrote my name, but can’t write anything else. Although it is better than most, you don’t stand out. Barely “knowing” or “barely can do” is a weak core competency.
- This hand tires so quickly. When you learn something new, it is more challenging and trying. It takes up more brain space and muscle activation because it’s unique. Don’t think that it is just about getting one degree, certificate, or reward.
Learning is a continual process that will enable longevity. Learn for life, and train to use the left and right equally. Are you training, learning, and developing so that your left is as useful as your right? If not, what is holding you back?