Essential Software to Help You Work From Home

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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When it comes to maximising your efficiency, here’s our advice on the essential software you need to help you get your work done from home.

Making the transition from working in a bustling office to your very quiet kitchen can be difficult for a number of reasons. Some people find it hard to focus without the constant buzz of people in the background, while others might have long worn habits around productivity – such as that strategy meeting after your morning coffee – that are sorely missed. There’s always a silver lining, however; working from home can be an effective way to enhance your work/life balance, help save the planet from the emissions of a long commute and give you time and breathing room to finally get around to those tasks that you had on the back burner.

So what now? Whether this is a permanent fixture to your schedule, or just a COVID-19 coping stopgap, we’ve researched the best apps and technology available to help your workflow across a number of areas:

Working From Home: Essential Software

Connectivity

Whether you’re helping a client, delivering coursework, or writing copy, you will need to check in with your colleagues from time-to-time. Plus, for many of us, our job is as much about maintaining a social outlet as it is about getting a paycheque – which doesn’t have to change if you’re working remotely. When it comes to collaborating as part of a bigger team, a Whattsap group chat can be distracting, while an email thread can clog up workflow and detract from important correspondence. There are many viable alternatives such as Slack, Discord, GroupMe, Twist, Flock or Viber which are perfect for sharing jokes, assigning tasks, asking quick questions, or having group discussions with your team.

Planning & Time Management

Long gone are the days of a hastily scrawled to-do list on a loose sheet of paper. Working solo means that the onus is on you to hold yourself accountable for your workflow. This is where strategic planning plays a pivotal role. What are the tasks that you absolutely have to get done today? What are your long term goals? There are several different apps on the market at the moment that are perfect for helping you strategise, collaborate and schedule your workflow. A calendar app, be it Microsoft’s Calendar, Google’s Calendar or Any.do is essential – along with that virtual to do list, such as Reminders, Todoist, or Microsoft To Do – can keep you on track for what you need to achieve.

Collaborating on Projects & Documents

Not all organisational challenges are created equal. For complex tasks and objectives where you need to interact with your colleagues, a project management app like Trello and Asana might be your best option. These works well when coming up with ideas; you can create boards, lists, assign tasks and even add snazzy images or edit themes. Then, when it comes to collaborating on documents, nothing beats the old classics; Microsoft Office 365 or Google Drive, both save versions of the documents as you go, allow you to control permissions and most importantly, work in real time.

Keeping Calm and Carrying On

With everything that’s presently happening on a global scale, teamed with deadlines, targets and the numerous other stresses that the average person faces while adulting, never underestimate the importance of practicing mindfulness. There are a number of products on the market that can help you in those stress filled moments. Try Calm, Stop, Breathe & Think, Headspace, or even the age old life hack of going out for a walk – mild physical exercise can work wonders for your mental health.

Concentration & Productivity

It’s not always easy to get into that proverbial zone. The human mind is a complex thing, and sometimes the neighbours putting up shelves, or your partner’s conference call in the other room can bring your ability to focus to an immediate halt. If you want to keep on track of your productivity and manage your workflow, an app like Hours, or Toggl might work best for you, or why not practice the pomodoro technique (25 minutes on, 5 minutes off) with Focus Booster? If you’re missing that background buzz we mentioned earlier, try an app like Coffitivity or Noisli. Perhaps you’re distracted and clicking on news, or other non work related websites? Then Serene or RescueTime can help you to avoid all temptation and block them completely.

Shared Storage & File Sharing

Online file storage is a must nowadays, and there are many, many services to choose from. You can share a series of files and collaborate on Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or OneDrive – which are all excellent options – at varying costs. However, if you just need to access that office server, or grab a file from your in work desktop then you can login remotely to your desktop with software such as Chrome Remote Desktop, TeamVeiwer or AnyDesk. Sometimes, working on a project with colleagues means you might have to send very large files that won’t fit as email attachments, in which case, WeTransfer, pCloud or Send Anywhere are your best options.

Honing Your Skills

Working from home means cutting down on distractions and commutes –  so what better time is there to reevaluate your own ability and skillset? Now that you’re redesigning your new schedule, make sure you allow space for training. There are plenty of online options, which cover all levels of training in Ireland and abroad. Whether you want to pick up a new practical ability, bridge a skills gap on your CV or finally tick that postgraduate course off your bucket list there’s something online for you. Check out eCollege, Udemy, Open University and of course – OnlineCampus.ie. Search our comprehensive database today for a range of training options designed to work for you.

Meetings

With any business, when it comes to staying connected, there will always be meetings. The golden rules of which when working from home are: keep your camera on, be mindful of noise on your end (mute your mic where possible), stay present and be ready to contribute. When it comes to one-on-one video chats or conference calls, there’s a multitude of software for you to choose from, our top tips are Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts, but the interfaces are more or less the same across the board, and once you have the hang of one, you should be able to use most of them.

Finally….

And don’t forget, working from home does not mean you are on call 24/7. Make sure to keep those pesky notifications muted with something like Daywise, where you can schedule those reminders to only go off during your working hours.

If you find an app that works better than our suggestions, or if you’ve any recommendations yourself, we’d love to hear them in the comments section below. Most of the options we recommend have free versions if you’re using them on a smaller scale. Also these are only a small fraction of the technology available, so don’t be afraid to do a deeper dive and find out what exactly works best for you and your devices.


Gemma Creagh

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Comments

  1. Okharu Isaiah 25th May 2020 at 3:55 pm

    It is interesting

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