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5 essential tools for remote work success.

Team collaboration across distance is the new normal. These types of remote work software are a basic necessity for any business.

What you need to flourish in the evolving world of work.

Remote work is the new normal. Since the COVID-19 pandemic went into high gear in March of 2020, “a day at the office” hasn’t meant what it used to. When in-person work is not an option, workers and employers need to make up the difference with technology. This article will lay out what you need to work remotely, and some ways to make this new world work for you.

The brave new world of remote work.

Today, many workers have adapted to remote work or a hybrid model. Their day is less about commutes, water coolers, and gazing out office windows and more about file sharing, screen sharing, and application notifications. Even if they do go into the office occasionally, that physical space no longer defines their job.

       

Remote work isn’t quite like being in the office. To be successful remote workers, distributed teams might have to outfit themselves with tools to deal with the distance, sometimes from different time zones. The following resources and remote collaboration tools are essential in setting yourself and your team up for remote work success.

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1. Time tracking, workflow, and project management software.

Remote workers need to know what they’re supposed to do, what their deadlines are, and who else is doing what on a given project. Teamwork and time management software can be more important to remote teams than face-to-face teams, as the software is usually the only interface that team members have with the project, as opposed to getting updates in person. Instead of a project manager or account manager checking in on people in person at the office for a quick stand-up meeting, remote employees get updates about tasks, subtasks, and deadlines via task management software.

2. Messaging software.

Communication with other team members in real time is key, even (and maybe especially) if you aren’t all in the same location. Email has been a key communication platform for decades now, but it lacks immediacy. There’s an implicit understanding that emails don’t always need an immediate response. But often team members do need to interact promptly.

 

Message software provides that. Real-time conversations are important for collaborating on projects, working together, and just hanging out with other employees. Make sure you have a communication option that is a little bit faster than email and encourages productive back-and-forth conversations.

3. Video conferencing software.

Sometimes you need the kind of energy that comes only from face-to-face team communication. Brainstorming, connecting with other team members, and sharing ideas freely all emerge more naturally from either in-person or online meetings.

       

Video calls will never entirely replace being in the room where it happens. There’s still a certain magic that comes from chatting in a meeting room and jotting ideas on a whiteboard. However, team meetings over video conferencing software can still be effective, especially when it comes to onboarding new employees and freelancers and reminding yourself that your coworkers are, in fact, real people with human faces.

4. Shared documents.

Team members need to see each other’s work. Whether it’s a blog post or an eBook, they need to review drafts, gather comments, get approval from stakeholders, and round up essential input that brings a project from a rough draft to a finished product.

       

PDFs excel at precisely this. They are among the best remote working tools for everything from editing PDFs to converting them to different file types. Additionally, PDFs are an industry-standard document that works on nearly any device and always looks the same whether you’re viewing them on a massive desktop display or a mobile device.

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Adobe Acrobat Pro includes integrated features for gathering feedback, comments, digital e-signatures, and other necessary input from team members and stakeholders. It’s easy to both combine multiple PDFs into a single document and extract pages from a larger work.

       

Adobe Acrobat also features cloud storage so everyone can access essential documents no matter where they’re working from. You can control a document’s access, viewing, editing, and commenting privileges easily, and users can redact sensitive information as needed. You can use many of these tools right in your browser, as well, with Adobe Acrobat online services and integrations like the Adobe Acrobat extension for Google Chrome.

5. A space to work.

A space isn’t really a “tool” per se, but to successfully work remotely, you still need the feeling of being at work. Setting up your work laptop in a space normally reserved for your non-work life can create a bit of dissonance, fraying the boundaries of your work/life balance. A remote work space should very clearly be a work space. You might not be commuting to an office, but you need to feel like you’re “at” work.

       

That can mean a home office, a desk in a flexible office space, or even a preferred table at your favorite local coffee shop. It might even be a very specific spot at your kitchen table, where you sit only while working. But it needs to be distinct from where you live outside of work. Setting up in your work space should make you think, “I’m at work now.” Getting up and leaving it at the end of the day should feel similar to leaving the office at 5:00. And if you’re putting a team together, give your team the resources and latitude they need to put together their own workspace.

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A person sitting at a table using their laptop while talking on their cell phone

The future of remote work.

Remote work is easier and more possible than ever. Technology, especially during the pandemic, has risen to help meet and streamline your team’s needs. Improved video chat technology has made virtual meetings smoother, document sharing is easier, and mobile app versions of collaboration tools make it truly possible for remote work to flourish. The brick-and-mortar office might be a thing of the past. But at the same time, the office is everywhere, and anywhere.

     

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FAQ about remote work tools.

Remote workers need to stay connected. They need time tracking, workflow, messaging, and video conferencing software. They also need shared documents and a space to work. Tools that facilitate communication and collaboration are essential for working together, even when not in the same space.

The most useful tools for remote employees vary from industry to industry, but in general, anything that keeps everyone on the same page with a project is essential. Project management software can keep large teams on track with deadlines, and comments in shared PDFs can make sure everyone sees feedback about a given piece of work.

Industry-standard word processing, presentation, collaboration, and project management software all help teams work efficiently and effectively, and are what clients and outside stakeholders will also likely be familiar with. That makes sharing work outside an organization easier. Industry-standard tools also make onboarding new team members and freelancers much simpler, as they will probably already be familiar with their functionality. Industry-standard document software, like Adobe Acrobat, may be a good choice for remote teams who want to stay connected while working in concert on a project. The Acrobat feedback and comments features help keep everyone in the know on a project. Great work only a few clicks away, and it’s almost like being in the office again.

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