Work from Home 101: 24 Tools to Improve Your Efficiency

Work from Home 101 Hero Image of Mother Working from Home
 
Last week, most of the companies switched to work from home. We are no exception. Working from home has its challenges, especially for those who have never done it. We have done it and this is why I decided to write this article, to share 24 great tools that can help you to improve your efficiency. To make it easier, I included prices and platforms these services work on.
 
I’ve grouped all of them under different categories, depending on what problem they are solving or what function they serve best. Here’s a look:

 

Work from Home Toolbox:

  • Communications
  • Meeting and conferencing
  • Planning and project management
  • Teamwork
  • Time tracking and scheduling
  • Productivity and task management
  • Cloud storage and file sharing
  • Screen sharing
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Communications

The first thing you struggle with is communication. After moving from working in the office to work from home – you lose the ability to communicate the way you used to communicate. You can’t meet in person; you can get together to solve the little issue quickly. This is why good and quality communications are crucial for efficient teamwork while remote.

Slack

Slack is a workplace communication tool. A single place for messaging, tools, files. Slack was built to replace emails – and it reduces the amount of emails teams used to send each other. There are three methods of communication in slack: channels (group chats), direct messages, and video calls. Slack has an extensive library of apps that can be connected to post information to slack channels automatically. You can also use commands in Slack channels to perform actions in other services. Slack is a very powerful tool. This is our #1 tool that gets used the most.
Work from home with Slack

Slack View – Source

Platforms: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android.
Pricing: Free limited version. Paid – From $6.67/user/mo.

Telegram

Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging and voice over IP service. They have both – mobile and desktop apps for most operating systems. Telegram is great for non-formal communications. They also have groups and DM’s. This is a great tool for communications with freelancers, contractors, and team off-hours on non-related to work topics. Telegram is known for its privacy and speed.
Some teams use Telegram instead of Slack.
Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android.
Pricing: Free.

Skype

Yes, Skype is still around. They may feel like a dinosaur – but they still have tens of millions of active users. Most of the time, Skype gets used by affiliate marketers and freelancers. If you are dealing with affiliate programs or freelancing – this might be a great communication tool. Skype has lots of features, including DM’s, channels, voice, and video calls, and has been a popular tool for many people that work from home in the past.
Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Alexa, Xbox.
Pricing: Free for personal use. $5/user/mo for business.
[ps2id id=’meetingandconferencing’/]

Meeting and conferencing

The second thing you are struggling with is your collaborations and conferences. Yes, you don’t need to have them all the time, but you need to have them every week. At least once. But if you work with teams and if you are a manager – you have conferences all the time.

Google Hangouts

Hangouts is a great tool for running meetings and conferences for free – not just with the internal team, but also external players. It enables small and medium businesses to send messages and run voice and video conference calls. You can record the call and simulcast it on your YouTube channel, or send it to your email list or share it on social media when your call is over.
 
Google Hangouts – Source
 
Platforms: Web, iOS, Android.
Pricing: Free.

 

 

Zoom

More than one million businesses use Zoom to run their meetings. It is a super simple tool to set up and use. You can run your call, chat, and share files at the same time. Great for collaboration. Zoom also allows you to share your screen. Zoom is not free, but you can run your free meetings under 30 minutes. To me, this is an advantage – a reason to run shorter meetings, less temptation to waste time, more value.
Platforms: Web, iOS, Android.
Pricing: Free limited version. Paid – from $14.99/mo/host.
 

Discord app

Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app. It used to be very popular among gamers and was built for gamers in the first place. But lately gained its popularity among other groups of creative individuals. Very popular among generation Z and Millenials.
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android
Pricing: Free limited version. Paid – from $4.99/user/mo

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Planning and project management

Without planning and proper project management, you can’t go far – especially when you work from home. This is why it is important to have all your projects and planning in one place.

ClickUp

In the past five years, we have tested and changed more than ten project management tools and end up using ClickUp. Our goal was to find something that will be used across all teams. ClickUp is easy to use; it has all the features to run and track your projects. It has a powerful landscape mode. It has the best UI (IMHO).

ClickUp Views – Source

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android
Pricing: $5/user/mo.

 

 

Monday

Monday is a simple tool to use. It helps you to delegate tasks and track progress with ease. It is great to manage a remote team. You can easily manage complex projects by creating boards for each project. Each team member can be invited to each board separately. Monday is very flexible, highly visual, and has very intuitive dashboards. It also has powerful reporting and analytics.

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android

Pricing: $8/user/mo.

Trello

Trello is another great alternative to ClickUp and Monday. They don’t have the best UI, but if you never used Project Management tools before – this might be a great start. Great cabana-style boards, drag and drop tasks – all you need to run your project and have a visual understanding of where you are at. Great for beginners.

 

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android

Pricing: $9.99/user/mo.

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Teamwork

Sometimes during conference calls, you need to use a whiteboard. Or between those calls – you need to work from home, but with a team, using a whiteboard or a tool that allows you to work together to create something like mind-map or prototype. Have you looked for those? Look no more.

 

Miro

Miro is like a whiteboard but online. It helps teams to brainstorm in real-time, create workshops, and strategy mapping efficiently. Miro is great for all kinds of collaboration environments and can suit many teams from strategy development, to UX research, to Mockups creation, to design, product development, customer discovery, and so on.

Miro Views – Source

 
Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: Free version. Paid version starts at $10/user/mo.

 

Mindmeister

Mindmeister is a solid, brainstorming tool for creative types. The UI is straightforward and easy to use. Their workflows are simple and make sense. You don’t need to watch guides to figure out how to use this app. Their collaboration features make brainstorming fun. It’s great not just for teams, but for single-use, to collect all of your thoughts and ideas to work with all of them on the same surface.

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android
Pricing: Free version. Paid version starts at $4.99/user/mo.

 

Marvel

Marvel is great for prototyping with the team. If you are developing a website or an app – Marvel is your answer. Its quick, simple, and straight to the point. With Marvel, you can create interactive prototypes for most of the devices in minutes and then turn your prototype into a clickable wireframe to test it with your coworkers or clients.

Platforms: Web
Pricing: Free version. Paid version starts at $12/user/mo.


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Time tracking and scheduling

It is essential always to know how much time you spend and on what. Sometimes it feels like it took you 30 minutes, but in fact – it was two hours. It doesn’t matter if you have to share your time tracking report with your employer/client or not – it is generally a good idea to know whats going on.

 

Toggl

Time tracking is important, and toggle does well, helping you to track your time. Not all of us have high self-discipline, and we can’t fight temptations to use social media and do something else. With the help of Toggl, you can track all your daily activities across different platforms – that will give you an insight on how to optimize your workflow by identifying areas you can improve. Working from home can be much more efficient with a tool like Toggl.

Toggl's Time Tracking Feature

Toggl Views – Source

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: $10/user/mo.

 

Qbserve

Very nice app to track your activities. The app that carries about you and asks you if you ate while you being out from the computer. It logs every website or app you visit and does nice categorizations for you. At the end of the day, you can look at charts it builds for you to analyze how well you have done and what can be improved.

Platforms: Mac
Pricing: $40/one-time/user

 

Clockify

Great app to show your clients or your employer where you were (every minute) and how well their investments were spent. It lets you show them a detailed breakdown of your time and how well it was spent. It is an entirely free tool for freelancers and agencies.

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: Free


[ps2id id=’productivity’/]

Productivity and task management

I can’t imagine my life without Google Calendar. I use it for everything – even tasks, sometimes. I can’t imagine how to be productive without Calendar – it’s just impossible. It also helps you not to overload your brain with extra information.
 

Google calendar

Google Calendar is a time management and scheduling tool. If you are using Gmail and other, Google’s tools and services, Google calendar is the best fit. It is one of the most used tools I use. It’s simple, helps you to organize tasks and events. Great for planning your day from morning through the night.

 

Google Calendar Screenshot

Google Calendar Views – Source

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android
Pricing: part of professional office suit, $6/mo/user

 

Todoist

Todoist is a simple task management app that helps you to manage your personal and professional tasks and productivity. It’s great for simple tasks that don’t require additional sub-tasks. But at the same time, it allows you to collaborate with other members of the family or team while you are working from home.

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: $36/user/year.

 

1Password

Remember times when you spent minutes and sometimes tens of minutes trying to remember your password? With 1Password, you won’t lose that time – it remembers all your passwords for you. And it does it on different devices and platforms. It’s secure and very easy to use.

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: $2.99/user/mo.

 


[ps2id id=’cloudstorage’ /]

Cloud storage and file sharing

Those times when the size of the hard drive on your computer was a thing – in the past. Now I don’t have to have big hard drives – my files are in the cloud. I use Drive and Dropbox for years – can’t imagine my life without these tools.
 

Google drive

Google Drive is a cloud storage service, and it allows you to expand the limits of your hard drive. It works across all devices and platforms and connects with other Google services like Gmail. Free account allows you to get up to 15GB of storage, which shared across services like Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive. Google Drive is a great solution not just for teams working at the office, but for everyone who is working from home.

Screenshots of Google Drive

Google Drive Views – Source

Platforms: Web, iOS, Android
Pricing: part of professional office suit, $6/mo/user

 

Dropbox

Dropbox makes it easy to transfer files across devices and allows you to synchronize all files across all devices. It works like a folder on your desktop. So, even when you work from home, it makes it easy to share files with your friends or colleagues. In addition to file storage and sharing features, Dropbox has services called Paper – which allows you to create simple and beautiful text documents.

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android
Pricing: $9.99/mo/2TB

 

Box

Box.com is another great alternative to Google Drive and Dropbox. It is fast, secure, and simple to use. Box is great for viewing, editing, and sharing your files securely in the cloud. With Box, you get 10GB of free storage.

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: $5/user/mo.

 


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Remote desktop and screen sharing

Sometimes you need to create a specific job. Perhaps teach someone or explain to them how to do things on their computers. Or perform a service – yes, this is also possible. This is when remote desktop and screen sharing tools come handy.
 

TeamViewer

TeamViewer is known for a remote desktop feature. It’s mostly used as remote access and support. It can connect to any PC or server and let you control that PC or server like if you were sitting right in front of it. TeamViewer is safe and easy to use, and allows you to work from home while controlling the computers in your office.

TeamViewer Remote Control

TeamViewer Views – Source

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: $49/user/mo.

 

Gotomeeting

In addition to remote desktop access, you might need screen sharing features. GoToMeeting is a meeting and webinar tool, but because of their screen share feature (Zoom has it too), I decided to add them to this category. Its a simple and great tool to have in your arsenal.

Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: $12/user/mo.

 

Screens

And my last one is Screens – it allows you to access your Mac desktop while keeping it hidden. Its fast, secure, and reliable. You can also share files between Macs via drag and drop feature. Great app for Mac users.

Platforms: Mac, iOS
Pricing: $29.99/one-time/user

 
As some of us know, and many of us will soon learn, being able to work from home is convenient in many ways, but comes with its own set of challenges. Nobody yet knows exactly how long this nationwide-shift to working from home will last, so it is important for each one of us to learn what routines and habits will make us most effective. Hopefully this list will help you identify a few resources you can use to help keep you and your team’s productivity high.

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