Handy tools for remote workers

There has been a huge rise in the past couple of years of new software and apps to increase productivity, streamline connectivity and all in all, make it easier for both in-house and remote workers to improve the efficiency of their working days.

For productivity and project management there are the usual suspects, Trello, Asana, Jira and Axosoft, which crop up a lot in reviews and articles about remote working. Also Slack, which is technically more of a messaging app for teams, but you can do a fair bit more than that, including file sharing and prioritizing conversations into topics and themes.

Another clever tool for remote teams split across different time zones is EveryTimeZone, which shows you how the time zones of your coworkers overlap with yours so you can coordinate efforts more easily.

Google Cloud Print eliminates the need to print huge documents at home and allows you to send the documents to a printer at the office or, any printer in the world really! Speaking of clouds, Dropbox and WeTransfer are great for sharing large documents with your colleagues – you don’t need an account for the latter and can transfer up to 2GB a time as often as you need.

Need to drown out some background noise but find the radio or television too distracting? Try Noisli, a white noise app. You can pick and choose the high quality ambient sounds and see what works for you!

A new contender that we’re quite excited about is Moleskine’s Smart Writing Set, which lets you hand write your notes and see them transferred to an app on your phone, so they are instantly digitized. Eliminating the need to write up your notes or scan in diagrams or drawings to send to colleagues, this will save you time and reduce the risk of losing the work. We can’t wait to give this one a try!

Nowbridge is our offering; a remote working software that allows you to stay part of the team by sharing live still images every few seconds with your colleagues so you can see who is available and who isn’t. You can send instant chat messages, leave voice messages and even call someone on Skype from within the desktop app. There are a number of different photo filters available and the images are only shared with people who you allow to see you. It gives you a clear boundary between when you’re at work and when you’ve finished for the day and helps you stay part of the team, wherever you are in the world.

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Are there any other great apps or software we should be aware of? Let us know!

 

How do remote workers switch off?

Where do you draw the line between work and your personal life when you work from home?

At Nowbridge, we know how tricky it can be, which is why we designed our software but there are lots of other things you can do to keep your work and home lives separate.

Firstly, there are things that you can do during the working day to help with this, like taking a proper lunch break, making sure you get up from your desk frequently and walk around like you would in an office, dress properly for work and making sure you switch off your computer/close the door to your office (if you have one) when your day is done.

Speaking of your home office, as your office and home are in the same place, it can be really hard to switch off at the end of the working day. We’ve scoured dozens of articles about this, looking for ideas and here are some of our favourites:

  • Schedule a workout for after work – helps you de-stress and de-clutter your mind
  • Get out of the house – do a food shop, walk the dog, go and pick up a coffee etc.
  • Have a glass of wine (or something similar)…

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All of these things can help you switch off and prevent you from overworking…remember, your boss can’t see all those extra hours you’re doing.

Don’t forget that one of the huge benefits of working remotely or working from home is that you can have a better life balance, don’t be tempted to fall into bad habits.

 

Nowbridge in action!

Are you part of a remote team? Have you tried Nowbridge yet?

If not, why not?

We all know the benefits of working remotely, but it can be lonely. We created Nowbridge so that all of your colleagues, wherever they are in the world, can stay a part of the team.

Our software unobtrusively sits on your desktop in the background while you work, but it’s there when you want to check whether a colleague is at their desk, or you need to quickly send a message that it’s not worth sending an email about. You can use it to call them on Skype or leave a voice message, which they can hear when they’re back at their desks.

The rest of the time, you might not even realise that it’s there, until you need it. There are lots of handy filters that you can apply to your live still images too, which gives you another level of control. It also gives you a clear way of switching off at the end of your day as your remote colleagues can see when you turn it off, your box goes white. This helps distinguish between your work time and your home time.

Why not introduce it to your remote teams and see how you get on?

The shift towards remote working

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Remote working is on the up and up, and we can’t be happier. Being ‘self employed’ or ‘freelance’ no longer implies being between jobs or out of work. Instead, it’s becoming a sort of, badge of honor nowadays, with lots of people seeing the move as brave.

As more and more companies embrace remote working, there is more work available for people who decide to move away from the office. So really, it’s no wonder that with the increase in public transport costs and the stress of commuting, the pull to work remotely is getting stronger.

We created our software because as great as remote working can be, for productivity, for your stress levels and for the environment, it sure can be lonely sometimes. When you’re working in an office, you have ongoing micro-interactions with people without often even realising it. Even if you can just see the top of someone’s head from your desk or hear them answer the phone, you know that they’re there. Whereas when you’re working remotely, you really don’t have any way of knowing whether someone is available. Yes, you can login to Skype or Gmail chat, if your company use those, but those green “online” dots aren’t always accurate.

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Nowbridge bridges the gap between staff working remotely and in the office. Live still images updating every few seconds all day long create the illusion of being together. You control who you connect with and when. You can only be seen by the people you can see. Use it throughout the day to send chat messages to colleagues or even quickly call them on Skype when you can see they’re at their desks. At the end of your working day, press pause or close Nowbridge down and it’s clear to everyone in your team that you have finished for the day.

Also, it’s free to download and easy to use! Have you tried it yet?

Why companies shouldn’t fear remote working

The subject of remote working is being bounded around offices all over the world at the moment. Although many individuals are embracing the movement, some companies may be understandably a bit apprehensive about the concept.

The main opinion going around the internet at the moment is that if you don’t trust your employees to work remotely, you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place, which is a good point but doesn’t necessarily help.

Many companies consider the move to open-plan offices to have been a substantial step forward for maximizing space while minimizing costs but as we’re sure many of you will agree, this doesn’t really do anything to improve communication between staff and boost the work culture. In fact some people, like the creator of Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH), see it it this:

“The open office plan is a tyrant of interruption, a deep loss of privacy, and the death of productivity.”

Strong words yes,  but who hasn’t been frustrated by so and so’s phone going off constantly while they’re away from their desk, or those colleagues who seem to enjoy loudly discussing their lunch plans from 9am onwards.

Perhaps we’ve now gone full circle back to people wanting their own space, but rather than wanting a physical office, they actually want their own space.

With so much work being done on computers anyway and the increasing costs of public transport, gas and electric, office space rental and more, embracing remote working even for some of the week could be a sensible move.

Nowbridge was developed so that people working remotely could still feel connected to the office and feel a part of the team. It’s free software that creates the illusion of being in the same room together. Try it today and let us know what you think!