How to be Remotely Productive
While skipping the morning commute and rolling out of bed and straight into your lounge room “office” may feel like a dream alternate reality — we all secretly crave a bit of structure.
With many of us rapidly spending more time sleeping, eating, drinking, working, exercising and living our best lives in close quarters, it’s more important than ever to create a healthy and sustainable work-life balance, and there’s plenty of tech that can help you get there.
Here are a few online tools and tricks our team uses to bring the 9-5 to their WFH spaces.
Say goodbye to clunky office network drives and hello to cloud-based storage and Google-friendly versions of Word docs and Excel spreadsheets. You can do everything you’d normally do on your MS Office Suite, plus it’s fun trying to work out who ‘Helix Hippo’ is, and why they’re messing with your Google Sheet. You can keep track of documents and images, and send a shareable link to non-Google users to view or edit, no login required.
Back-up photos and videos, and access files stored on any of your computers or mobile devices. You can create personal or project folders and invite collaborators to join. Basically it keeps things simple, synced and in one ‘home’ (ie. not on your colleague’s Desktop).
Developers are yet to create the Holy Grail of project management tools, but Asana comes pretty close. It keeps all your projects and tasks organised, you can create sub-tasks, track progress, add comments and collaborate on lists. It even turns emails into tasks. Genius.
This is actually something we're looking at as a team right now. Imagine a digital whiteboard built from the ground up for online collaboration. Run through a bunch of exercises, and get your strategy locked in remotely. Perhaps coming to a workshop near you soon.
For team and client meetings
Video conferencing, so hot right now. Who would’ve thought? And the leader of the pack: Zoom. Why? It’s super easy to set up a meeting with multiple people and there’s no need to download an app, or create an account to join. You can even improve your office set-up or your appearance (yep, FaceTune is a thing, even in corporate land). Click on the link at the scheduled time to enable the video and sound, and you’re good to go. Just remember to exit the meeting if you plan to multitask.
Finding time for meetings is tricky at the best of times. Calendly helps you schedule meetings without endless emails. And yes, you can connect it to Zoom.
Think of this as the voice recorder of the future, now. Can’t remember what Sally said about those March sale reports? Otter is your nominated notetaker. You can share notes, audio, and connect it with Zoom, Dropbox, and your Google or Microsoft calendar and contacts. Plus, it’s AI, so its capabilities improve and adapt the more you use it.
Structuring your workday
Are you someone that likes to segment out their workday? Clockify is great for those who need to set boundaries for the times they take for each work task, or simply to map out a ‘to do’ list for an 8-hr work day.
People who work from home tend to overwork, not underwork and without the usual ‘it’s midday’ cue from your colleagues, 3pm can roll around and all have to show for it is a half-eaten muesli bar. So, do what you need to do to get that lunch break in. Whether it’s setting an alarm, scheduling a recurring event in your calendar or downloading an app, make time to take a break, get some fresh air, keep your energy levels up, and do something meaningful and non-work related for 30-60 minutes.
Equally as important. Clocking off. Set a time every day to finish work, and stick to it. You may not have places to be, or people to see (right now), but you still need to “leave”’ the office.
And if you can’t trust yourself, set your computer up to do it for you.
Creating screen zen
Have a bunch of apps tied to your workflow? Zapier connects all the apps you use each day (and most of the ones mentioned in this post) to make your work life a little more streamlined. Think of it as the glue that holds everything together. You can link up all your apps, and create custom Zaps to automate daily or weekly tasks in the background.
We spend a lot of time in front of our computers during an average work day, and more so when we’re working from home. That harsh blue light can mess with sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body's internal clock. If you haven’t already, make sure your True Tone, adjust brightness and Night Shift settings are switched on, or if you enjoy added flexibility download F.lux, which allows you to adapt the colour of the screen to a time of day, or your mood — sunset at 10:30am? Why not.