Discovering the best work from home 'must haves' can be a difficult transition for anyone who is used to working in the office. What used to be a walk to a colleague’s office now is an instant chat or video call. In-person training seminars are now online training courses with webinars thrown in.
But you don’t have to be scared of these changes—embracing them is the best way to move forward with the rest of the world when discovering the best work from home apps and tools!
After deciding how you can transition into holding a remote work from home job, you’ll need to get the right hardware and remote work software. If you're still trying to decide, check out our article about What Does Working Remotely Mean?
As online training experts, we're sharing the best work from home must haves so you don’t have to spend time researching it! We're also including the best online training tools to ensure you can nail the remote work opportunity.
1. The best remote work equipment
We're going to share the best remote work equipment that we personally use at Coassemble to help you succeed as a work from home legend. Let's get straight into it! From decking out the best home office setup, office chair, office desk, laptop stand and so much more, it's time to invest in an epic home office you'll be proud of.
2. Best remote work computers
Looking for the best laptop for remote work? If you’re looking for a great, daily workhorse, the MacBook Pro 13inch model is our top pick! It has all of the bells and whistles of higher-end laptops with the battery and performance to back it up. These are especially solid laptops for design or developer heavy tasks that need a little more oomph.
If Apple’s OS isn’t your thing or you like having touch capability, our Marketing Content Specialist will tell you the best laptop for working from home is the HP Spectre 360 13t model. It comes with great specs on even base models and still boasts high-end performance. Being able to swap between tablet and laptop on the fly comes in handy for notes and collaborative projects.
Lastly, if you just need something to do word processing and web browsing, Chrome books like the Pixelbook Go are up to the task. Coming in at the lower end of any budget, Google’s Chrome books are vastly becoming a great entry-level computer. And you have the benefit of utilizing the Android app store to boost productivity with a host of remote work tools.
3. Best remote work must haves accessories
If you’re taking zoom meetings or audio calls, noise cancelling headphones is a must to block out background noise! Whether you’re using a pair of AirPods or the earbuds that came with your phone, it's a game changer to be able to concentrate regardless of kids playing havoc in your home!
While most web and phone cameras have mics that pick up sound, it’s difficult to isolate your voice. Having a dedicated mic and headphone combo ensures consistent sound for everyone on the call. Don’t be that one person that has too much background noise or can only be heard in a hushed whisper.
In terms of posture, working from home should be treated no differently than working at the office. Standing desks can dramatically improve your ergonomic workspace by taking some strain off your low back. If you have the space in your home, these desks are remote worker game-changers. Laptop stands are a great way to elevate your writing area as well when a standing desk is not an option for your space and you end up working on the kitchen table.If you have an HR team at your company, many of them are supplying these office desks for remote teams as part of your office budgets. Reach out to your manager to find out!
Lastly, here’s a quick list of desk accessories and home office essentials our team can’t go without:
- Post It notes (with colors to match specific tasks).
- A writing pad (blank or lined, we still argue over which is better as a team).
- Coasters for all your drinks (we see those coffee rings on the table).
- A ring light if you need to brighten up your video calls.
- A desk lamp to keep your work area well lit.
- A plant to add some nature to your space, keep your area looking fresh, and purify the air.
Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of what’s needed to get started applying remote work best practices. But hardware is only half the battle. Now let’s have a chat about the best remote work software the really drives remote work success.
4. The best remote work software to successfully work from home
The applications you use to connect, communicate, manage, and deliver work remotely can vary greatly by profession. Below are some work from home tools nearly anyone can make use of in their workdays. Many also offer mobile and computer compatibility, so you can access them from wherever you are located.
5. Best team communication apps
Looking for the best team communication apps? Video conferencing is one of the most important ways to stay in touch with your team. For video, you also have a plethora of options to choose from for your company. Our two picks are Google Hangouts and Zoom. Both are great depending on what you need from a conference platform (Zoom can host large numbers, Google is intuitive with scheduling). Both offer a chat function so people can ask questions and share links during a call. Both also offer a phone-in option for anyone that can’t join with video.
For chatting with your team, instant messaging apps are your best option to maintain a steady flow of communication. Slack is the best tool for remote work when it comes to communication. The integrations list is nearly endless and you can access your team’s channels from anywhere. If you have a team working across different time zones, we highly recommend getting the Timy integration so you can schedule messages. This can make it easy if you have something you want to send but don’t want to bother your teammate before they’re awake.
Video messaging is a great way to explain a complex topic without sending a complex message. We love applications like Loom that work anywhere you need. This is also helpful if you’re trying to create evergreen video content for online training and customer demos.
6. Best Remote Project Management Tools
Being able to manage and measure projects for your remote work is crucial to maintain transparency with your team. Our own CEO, Ryan Macpherson talks about transparency in our article on How To Manage Remote Teams. By staying on top of what everyone is doing, the entire remote team's productivity can improve dramatically.
A platform that can actively help you manage project progress for work done helps everyone stay on track. This also ensures work is getting done efficiently when team members are operating over different time zones.
Here are the best remote project management tools you need to know about to help you succeed at becoming a work from home pro!
Process Street: Organizing and structuring your team's recurring task and procedures workflow automatically sounds like a dream come true, right? Process Street is a simple, free and powerful way to manage your team's recurring checklists and procedures. From rapid task approval, easily built workflows, and an intuitive UI to make your life easy, and integrate the apps you use daily, Process Street has it all.
Click Up: Being able to get through your whole workday with a single application was something thought only possible in the late 90s. But thanks to productivity tools like Click Up, there's hope of that happening again.
Aiming to serve as your team's one app to rule them all and in the process bind them, Click Up offers a powerful suite of functions and features. Each designed to replace the multitude of tools that pull your team across dozens of workspaces (and murdering your productivity).
Best of all, you can try out the platform for free and access most of the features before going unlimited. And we're all about trying before you buy.
Jira: Our teams love Atlassian’s team-oriented remote work software for a variety of reasons. The learning curve is a little high of the three apps listed, but definitely worth the effort. Being able to track ticket issues, blockers or progress made, and time logged is incredibly useful.
You also can utilize sprints for the Agile and Kanban methods of project planning. You’re able to organize everything based on role, team, department, and company project goal. It also integrates with many popular office suites so you can link relevant work right into an issue card.
Asana: Asana is visually appealing and incredibly easy to use. A great mid-tier app that offers project management tools without a lot of fuss. Asana works well because it’s visually focused, creating cards to project plans. What we like most about Asana is that almost anyone can use it once they install it. And the mobile app makes it handy to keep up-to-date on projects.
Trello: By far the easiest to use, Trello is a great place to start if you’re new to project managing remote teams. One of the best remote work tools, Trello thrives in simplicity. Being able to get yourself and your team on a platform fast is essential. This is a great beginning application for project management that you’ll want to check out.
Office suite tools: Without stating the obvious, office suite software is an essential remote work tool for any team. We have the best three depending on your OS or sharing needs listed below. But we think we can all agree that an office suite is an essential part of the best remote work tools.
Rather than look at a single app, we’re giving you our top three picks as their respective groups.
- G Suite is probably the most well-known and accessible of the three. Gmail, calendar, and the drive alone make it an easy choice. But the powerful spreadsheet and word processing apps that accompany it combine for one of the best remote work tools. Being able to collaborate, connect, and share work with your team is essential when working remotely.
Another perk is that many of these features come standard for free with any Google account. The business upgrade increases storage and hangout features, as well as extra storage for your Gmail inbox (for all those spam offers you haven’t deleted yet). Best of all, you can access all of this from your android or iPhone devices.
- Microsoft 365 (Office 365’s new name) might be the right fit if you’re a larger team or have a predominantly windows-computer based team. Working natively on any PC (Mac and Chromebook have versions as well!), you’re able to access all of your team’s work with Microsoft Teams in the project hub. 365 can integrate messages from Outlook into the team’s program chat, giving you one place to access and communicate with everyone. And just like Gsuite, 365 can be used on mobile devices when you’re out of the office!
- iWork is definitely not the powerhouse Google and Microsoft offer, but it makes up for this with design and user interface. iWork is Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—three apps for word processing, creating spreadsheets and creating presentations. Each offers incredibly powerful features for creating content without needing much experience to get started. And you have access to the apps through Mac OS, iOS, and anywhere on the web with iCloud.
17. The best remote work tools to improve productivity
These are best remote work tools that aren’t necessary but can definitely make life easier for remote workers. If you want to follow some of our remote work best practices, these tools make life easier for sure. Productivity for remote work means using tools that translate in-office tasks to the online space.
Drawing, notes, and whiteboards: We all have that one person that needs a whiteboard (or at Coassemble, most of the team). But working remotely means adapting to how whiteboards and other notation and drawing tasks can be shared virtually. Below are our favorite apps for getting these tasks done timely and with ease.
- Microsoft Whiteboard is simple and easy to use (easier with a touch screen or input tablet) - and fantastic tool to replace whiteboards. What makes it even better is that it’s collaborative—giving you access to draft and share a board with teammates. It’s accessible from everywhere, including most mobile devices so you can draw on your touch device and then review on your laptop.
- Miro is another great whiteboard app that shares a host of design elements with a focus on collaboration. They also offer a scaled pricing structure that starts at 0$ and grows with your team’s needs. The best part is their integrations list is so long that you’ll be wondering what you can’t connect with them to increase productivity. You can also use their stickies capture feature to grab all your post-it notes digitally.
- Invision is a powerful UX collaboration tool with an emphasis on aesthetics. Whether you’re trying to sketch out a quick wireframe or starting to build an element library, Invision has your back. And with an extensive list of name brands in their customer base, you can rest easy knowing you’re with the pros.
Note taking apps: If you need to jot down a quick note, we’ve got three solid and easy to use apps depending on your needs.
- Dropbox Paper is a free tool by the cloud storage giant that combines word processing, notation, and project management. Definitely powerful, Paper is a great option if you’re looking for an all-in-one platform and haven’t bought into Google or Microsoft’s platforms. You also have the benefit of sharing files with one of the most reputable cloud storage companies in the world.
- Google Keep is a great notation tool for anyone already in Google’s application ecosystem. Keep has a chrome extension that lets you jot down a note and it links that note to the webpage you’re on. You can also access all of your notes from anywhere, and all of them will be synced with the most recent additions.
- Milanote is perfect if you’re a visual note take and like to have all your thoughts on a single board. Milanote lets you note and create ideas into a cohesive plan of action. You can also gather content from anywhere and get a bird's eye view of everything you’re currently working on in a week/month/quarter.
Our honorable mentions for apps for rounding the best tools for working remotely list out are Grammarly and The Time Zone Converter. Grammarly is great for grammar checking and comes with a chrome extension so it works on any page you’re drafting on (the desktop app works just as well!).
Time Zone Converter is great if you have a large team or customer base spread across time zones. It shows you where every time zone is at a glance and makes it easy to plan meetings and keep track of differences.
Ready to work from home?
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include an online training platform like Coassemble to onboard and train remote teams. Since we’re experts on the subject, we’re here to help you transform your online training.
The most difficult part of working from home is having a team trained and enabled to work successfully. With our easy-to-use creation, delivery, and measurement features, your team can access training from anywhere at any time. And you’ll be able to track their progress and results all from the same platform.
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