Excited at the prospect of being able to work from home or wherever you choose? Perhaps you’re not exactly sure what your day-to-day tasks outside of a traditional office might involve, or if your resume would even get a second glance. Thankfully, if you really want to work remotely, you have more influence over this than you might think.

The most competitive candidates are, naturally, those professionals who have previously worked from home in a fully distributed or flexible role. If that doesn’t describe your career, don’t worry: you can shift the odds in your favor by acquiring specific experiences that are appealing to hiring managers. It all starts with the right tools.

While there’s no silver bullet to fully prepare you for working remotely, there are a number of commonly used tools that you should get to know. No matter the role, you’ll likely encounter the following five. So before you apply, it’d be wise to familiarize yourself with them. (As a remote worker, I use just about all of these multiple times per day, and I’m sure I’m not alone!)

Want to Work Remotely? Top 5 Tools You Need to Know (and Master):

1. Messaging Apps

Think of these as online hubs for all of your written communication; this is how you avoid having 200 emails a day. It serves as a repository for conversations, documents, and a water cooler all rolled into one. Some companies are even using it as a product, inviting members to closed chat rooms.

With applications such as Slack, which bills itself as a “digital workspace,” you can engage in conversations organized by channel, with documents, images, and links pinned or saved to each. You can also log in on your smartphone to keep up with your team throughout the day.

2. VoIP Services

These are your phones over the web; this is how you avoid racking up huge charges for overseas calls, for example. You can use these services to call mobile landlines or cellphones (for a small fee), or others’ online handles at no cost.

However, software such as Skype or appear.in also enables remote teams to have 1:1 video calls (free) and video conferences with larger groups (premium), which offers a big boost in terms of interpersonal communication. You’ll want to get the hang of this prior to your first video interview, of course.

3. Shared Documents

This is your online word processor, presentation builder, and spreadsheet rolled into one virtual hub; it’s how you avoid having a dozen disparate or outdated versions of a document getting passed around.

With Google docs, for example, you can make and see edits in real time, update sharing settings so others have varying levels of access, and enable anyone to create and collaborate from a distance. Thanks to robust infrastructure in the Cloud, remote teams are producing innovative products from locations across the globe.

4. Project Management Platforms

This is where all of your project-based work (see above) lives, along with assigned tasks and responsibilities; it’s how you can work together seamlessly without being in the same room or building.

Trello has a more visual dashboard—great for creative professionals—while Asana affords companies a big-picture view of a variety of projects at once. Both allow you to track progress, set deadlines, and share pertinent files. Staying in the loop has never been easier.

5. Online Presentation Software

This is how you can interact with clients and provide courses to customers; it’s how companies reach a broader audience base with little overhead. Software programs such as WebEx and GoToMeeting not only enable teams to communicate with one another; they can be used to give presentations to prospective clients or lead webinars as a product offering.

Best of all, once you become used to one of these interfaces, you tend to be able to pick others up very quickly.

Want to work remotely? Check out these remote jobs hiring now

Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com 

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