Work from home is becoming a reality for more of us every day as large and small businesses take precautions to protect the health and safety of their employees. But working from home can be tricky business, especially for those of us who aren’t used to working away from a traditional office environment.
While rolling out of bed and working in your PJs may sound attractive, having a fully-equipped office does have its benefits. When we work from home, we can work at our own pace on our own schedules, however our access to resources that we take for granted are much more limited.
Running into network issues or computer problems? At work, most of us have an IT department we can contact to help us. Getting that same kind of help remotely is much more difficult.
Aiming to get a promotion and prove your value as an employee? It’s much harder to make an impression when you’re not there in person. It takes much more effort and intention to stand out and keep your employer’s attention when you’re working remotely.
While some of us may have an easier time transitioning to working from home than others, there are fortunately a lot of emerging technological solutions that make working from home much more manageable! From keeping in touch to staying on top of projects, here are some of the best technological solutions to keep you working fluidly and productively from home.
Slack has steadily increased in popularity in jobs where half of the workforce may work remotely, or where lots of different teams may need to collaborate and share resources and ideas throughout the day. Now, it’s become a lifesaver for many remote workers looking for an efficient way to keep in touch with coworkers they would normally see face-to-face every day.
Slack allows you to communicate via direct message, in custom group chats, and in channels dedicated to certain projects or subjects. This can really help organize your conversations and communications with different people who work in different departments in your company.
For face-to-face interactions, traditional apps like Skype or FaceTime may not be robust or convenient enough for a business environment. Enter Zoom, an app optimized for team meetings that works out all the kinks you’d normally encounter with standard video chat apps.
It’s a free service as long as your meetings last no longer than 40 minutes, upgrading only requires one host to pay the monthly fee. Consider investing in this platform if you’re an employer managing remote employees, as it’ll help you increase communication and overall team cohesiveness. With voice call, 1-1 calls, and chatting features, Zoom is a great practical communication tool for remote workers.
Though paid office suites like Microsoft Office 365 offer more in-depth and robust feature sets, Google docs is a great free collaborative tool that will suit most working environments. Collaborate with team members with chat built-in, as well as comments and corrections that can be made right in the document.
Best of all, this platform works on most modern browsers on any operating system or computer, and can also be accessed with Android and iOS apps. All documents and edits synchronize seamlessly for all users across platforms who have access to the documents.
Sometimes too many people editing can have chaotic consequences. Fortunately, Google docs not only auto-saves the latest changes, but backlogs previous versions of the document, so you can always go back and see changes that have been made. In worst-case scenarios, you can restore previous versions of the document to undo erroneous changes.
Tomato Timer is a dead simple web page that anyone can use. Though it may seem like a very simple tool, it’s actually much more useful than you might think.
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is self-discipline and staying focused amid the myriad distractions that pop up throughout the day. One method remote workers swear by is setting a timer set at regular intervals so you have periods of uninterrupted work with frequent scheduled breaks in between. Tomato Timer is a handy tool that allows you to do just that.
You may find that you like longer periods of uninterrupted work, but even setting just 20 minutes of work at a time, broken up by 5 minute breaks, can have a dramatic beneficial effect on your workflow. It’s up to you and depends on your unique working style.
Music streaming services
Having a music streaming service like Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube Red can make a big difference in your energy and workflow from home. You may prefer fast-paced, high energy music to keep your mood up. Or you may prefer more chilled out instrumental tracks to keep your mind focused without distractions.
Regardless, most streaming music services these days offer robust playlist curation services, meaning you can just input the type of music you’re looking for and let the app set an infinite playlist for you that will last you an entire day.
As an added bonus, you may discover new artists you love this way, and add them into your daily rotation. Most streaming services offer a free trial or even a free version, though you may opt to pay the monthly fee so that those annoying commercials don’t interrupt your music flow and cause distraction from your work.
Stay on top of your mental health
It can be difficult not having anyone to talk to throughout the day. One potentially negative side effect of working from home is a lack of social interaction and increased isolation. While aggressive social distancing may reduce your ability to safely interact with anyone for the time being, there are resources you can take advantage of if you ever feel the need to talk to anyone seriously about anything.
Therapy is a tremendously beneficial and helpful way for anyone to process their emotions and feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression. It’s something everyone should do from time to time! In a fast-paced and busy world obsessed with work output and results, it’s hard to actually take time to check in with ourselves and make sure we’re not only physically healthy, but mentally and emotionally well.
Apps like TalkSpace are perfect for people who can’t or would prefer not to leave their homes and need access to professional therapy. It’s not just a chat app—it actually connects you to a licensed therapist in all 50 states. So no matter where you are, and no matter how isolated you may feel, there’s always someone you can reach out and talk to.
Beyond therapy, meditation and relaxation are great ways to stay centered and focused throughout the day. Meditation apps like Buddhify are a great way to take some time out, even if it’s just for a few minutes, to refocus your mind and clear out the clutter and distractions that can inhibit our mental and emotional processing.
Regardless of what tools you use, don’t underestimate the power of taking care of your mental health while working at home.
Beyond apps and technological solutions, smart physical office furniture can have a huge impact on your mood and productivity. Many people don’t have a proper office setup at home and may resort to doing work at the kitchen table or even in bed.
Break out of these bad habits and supercharge your productivity by dedicating a space in your home to just work! It’ll make a huge difference in your ability to focus and in setting your mind on the tasks at hand. If you’re working in your bed, you’ll be tempted to doze off or watch a movie. Beyond that, laying propped in bed can hurt your back and introduce ergonomic problems that have a long-lasting impact.
An affordable ergonomic office chair, like the ErgoChair 2 from Autonomous, comes in many colors and can be configured to just about any body type for optimal ergonomic posture. It’s a great subdued chair that won’t clash with your home decor, and compared to competing premium brands, it’s quite affordable and just as durable.
Not only is proper seated posture important, but having the option to stand as well! That’s why standing desks are increasingly popular at home—not just in startups or corporate offices. Being able to raise and lower your workspace throughout the day can make all the difference in your energy levels and your ability to focus. You can work from home, and work with comfort and ease, with the right office setup.
Be sure to do research if there’s a specific issue you’re having working from home. Chances are you’re not alone, and someone might have developed a solution to meet your specific needs. These are just a few of the most popular options for people working from home, but you may have your own favorites.
What are your must-have tools and apps for working from home? Sound off in the comments below!
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