Employers are tuning into the benefits of having a remote workforce, and the use of remote work tools have made working remotely more attainable.
For starters, remote workers tend to be more productive than those that spend their time in the office. There are many reasons why. The most important of which is that they’re more comfortable working from home—or a preferred space.
Then, there are the cost savings of a remote workforce. Workers save money because they don’t have to commute and pay for the gas and maintenance on their vehicles. They also save the time they would spend driving, which can actually be rolled back into work. Businesses save money when they don’t have to pay for workspace, including bills to remain operational like power and water.
Benefits aside, this can possibly be attributed to modern technologies and remote work tools like broadband or high-speed internet. But while internet access is necessary, it’s not the only technology remote workers need. There are many others out there.
Here are five must-have remote work tools for aspiring remote workers:
1. Remote Management and Storage Apps
The first on our list is important, and it’s possible thanks to cloud platforms.
Remote storage apps, such as Dropbox and Google Drive*, allow you to store documents and access them from anywhere, with any device. This means you can begin work on your desktop and pick the work up again later from your smartphone or laptop—provided you have internet access. Services like this are absolutely essential if you swap between working remotely and on-site. Your projects are always with you, and always up-to-date, and you don’t have to carry an external hard drive or USB drive.
Collaborative project management apps and platforms also fall under this umbrella. These are things like Basecamp, Asana, and others. They allow teams to organize and keep track of tasks but also to collaborate and work cooperatively at times.
Most importantly, remote management apps allow teams to communicate with one another via a single channel. This is how managers delegate tasks and projects to remote workers and keep track of deadlines.
2. Telecommunication and VOIP Remote Work Tools
VOIP stands for Voice-Over-IP, and it’s a fancy term for software applications that allow you to make voice calls over the internet. Many of these tools, but not all, include videoconference support so you can chat with contacts via a live video feed as well.
Generally, these tools are used to communicate when an email or instant message chat isn’t sufficient. This includes screen-share tools so remote teams can work collaboratively from a single system.
Popular VOIP providers include Skype, GoToMeeting*, Nextiva, ShoreTel, Fonality, VOIP Studio, and more. Platforms like Google Hangouts* and Apple FaceTime count, too, as they’re acceptable conferencing tools.
It’s worth noting that the technology requires hardware on both the remote worker’s and company’s side to function. These are devices like routers, switches, Internet Protocol, or IP, telephony equipment, power amplifiers, base stations, and software tools.
3. Virtual Private Network Tools
When you’re working remotely over the internet, you also need to be wary of security, especially for sensitive documents. Just because you can work from home doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always safe to do so.
To help with this problem, there are a variety of security tools like virtual private network, or VPN, platforms. In most cases, a VPN is designed to protect an internal network or system that outsiders have access to. This means when you tap into your work system from home (or elsewhere in the world), the VPN keeps the connection secure and protected. This occurs by encrypting any and all data that funnels through it.
Without a VPN in place, there’s no way a company can be sure its network, and the data being sent through it, is truly secure. A VPN can also help IT teams prevent unscrupulous individuals from gaining access to a private network and wreaking havoc.
4. Electronic Document Management Remote Work Tools
Electronic document management, or EDM, tools help you categorize and access documents. With the right EDM system, remote teams are more productive. An EDM can aggregate documents and files from a number of sources. This includes guides, online forms, emails, scanned files, images, and more. The data is filed into a single repository for access later. Examples of EDM providers include eFileCabinet, Everteam, Box, Filestack, Quip, and many more.
When workers or managers deem it necessary to retrieve a document, they can conduct a simple search through the entire database. A system like this is especially helpful for large teams that work collaboratively over a long period of time.
Members can upload their work and someone else can pick it up and continue at a later date. It also works as a document archive of sorts, so the team can access files at any time in the future.
5. Virtualized Desktops or Desktop as a Service Tools
Virtualized desktops and desktop as a service, or DaaS, tools are the corporate version of remote desktop software. While working from a remote computer, when you need to access your home desktop, you use a remote desktop application. It lets you tap into the remote machine and continue working, while the data are being streamed to the local machine.
That’s exactly what DaaS platforms do for remote workers; they allow teams to access a work computer or on-site system from a remote location. They have access to all installed tools, applications, and accounts—even if those items aren’t installed on their local machine.
All work that’s done is stored on the remote machine as well. This means documents and files are more secure as they remain on-site.
DaaS providers include Amazon WorkSpaces, Cisco, Citrix, Leostrea, SolidFire, and others.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career site all about happiness and success. Be sure to subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum for more tips about creating a flexible career.