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

Being able to work from anywhere with 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 no longer the status quo, 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 shift to remote work.

It isn’t news to anyone that the 2020 pandemic changed how we work. Employers and employees alike realized that, in many cases, remote work is ideal for several reasons.

Most employers believe that remote work productivity levels are higher, and employees prefer the work-life balance. Research shows that employees are more likely to remain with a company where remote work is an option and that the rate of turnover is lower. More than 80% of managers and employees expect remote work opportunities to continue.

This shift in lifestyle for a large portion of the labor force has led to new ways of thinking about what work and remote collaboration can and should look like. There is room for improvement and innovation. Companies have opportunities with hiring and managing remote teams that they didn’t before. For example, remote work opens up the field of qualified candidates. Teams can be assembled based on qualifications and compatibility instead of geographic location. More diverse teams can bring fresh ideas, connections, and capabilities

Not all remote work is fully remote. Many employers offer hybrid environments, requiring workers to come into the office a few days a week or for certain meetings with teams and clients. Whether they use a hybrid or fully remote model, many companies are now focused on hiring people who can manage their own time and providing the technical resources they need to keep work moving seamlessly wherever employees are located.

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The new world of remote work.

Today, many workers have adapted to remote work or a hybrid work 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 as remote workers and sustain work from home productivity, distributed teams might have to outfit themselves with tools to deal with the distance, sometimes from different time zones. The following resources and collaboration tools are essential in setting yourself and your team up for remote work success.

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

Remote workers need to have a prioritized to do list, 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.

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

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.

Adobe Acrobat Pro includes integrated features for gathering feedback, comments, electronic 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 your favorite table while working at coffee shops you love. 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 your activities outside of work. Setting up in your workspace 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.

The future of remote work.

Successful remote teamwork 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.

What tools do I need to work remotely?

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 people are not all in the same space.

Which tools are the most useful for remote employees and coworkers?

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 ensure that everyone sees feedback about a given piece of work.

What is the best software to help me work remotely?

Industry-standard word processing, presentation, collaboration, and project management software all help teams work efficiently and effectively, and clients and outside stakeholders are likely to be familiar with them. That makes sharing work outside an organization easier.

What is the best digital tool to use while working from home?

Industry-standard tools make onboarding new team members and freelancers much simpler, as they probably will already be familiar with the functionality. Digital document software like Adobe Acrobat may be a good choice for remote teams that need to stay connected while working on a project. The Acrobat feedback and comments features help keep everyone in the know on a project. Great work is only a few clicks away, and it’s almost like being in the office again.

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