Here we look at the best remote work tools for online collaboration, communication and productivity in 2021, and provide a list of the 22 most recommended in an online survey. They include useful apps and remote working software, as well as a few other tips for creating your perfect home office set-up.
In mid-April 2020 when many professionals and organisations were adapting to the requirements of lockdown and social distancing amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, popular marketing platform company Hubspot asked the following question on Twitter:
If you could recommend one tool (productivity, collaboration, etc.) that every remote worker needs, what would it be? 💻
— HubSpot (@HubSpot) April 18, 2020
What followed over the next couple of days was interesting, as hundreds of people responded with a total of 55 tools (mainly software / apps) for remote worker communication, collaboration and productivity. That number doesn’t include suggestions like alcohol and lubricants, which we probably don’t need to include on this list.
Most Recommended Remote Worker Tools
Of the 55 serious / seriousish recommendations for a remote work toolkit, 22 were mentioned twice or more. In order of mentions, here are the most recommended remote worker tools:
By organising a full set of communication and collaboration tools in one place, Slack helps remote teams to stay productive no matter where they’reworking from.
Type: Collaboration #Recommendations: 29 Website: https://slack.com/
2. Google Drive
G Suite is an integrated suite of secure, cloud-based collaboration and productivity apps powered by Google AI. It includes Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Meet and more.
Type: Collaboration, Productivity #Recommendations: 26 Website: https://gsuite.google.com/
3. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams brings everything together in a shared workspace, and with the free edition, you can work from anywhere, chat with your team, and collaborate on files at no cost.
Type: Collaboration, Productivity #Recommendations: 20 Website: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/microsoft-teams/free
Trello is team project collaboration software that enables you to create boards, lists, and cards for organising and prioritising projects in a fun and flexible way. It also has a workflow automation tool that enables you to automatically deal with redious / repetitive tasks to further boost productivity.
Type: Collaboration, Project Management #Recommendations: 16 Website: https://trello.com/
Zoom enables Video Conferencing, Screen Sharing, Webinars and Web Conference Calls. Zoom Video Communications has surged in popularity among business and home users since the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Type: Communication #Recommendations: 13 Website: https://zoom.us/
Asana is an online project management tool that helps you keep remote workers and distributed teams, and even an entire organisation, focused on their goals, projects and tasks.
Type: Project Management #Recommendations: 12 Website: https://asana.com/
Monday is another web-based project management tool that is recognisable for its colourful, visual drag and drop interface. It includes several remote work tools, including the ability to create a virtual workspace for team communication and collaboration.
Type: Project Management #Recommendations: 10 Website: https://monday.com/
8. Ergonomic furniture
The topic of ergonomic furniture for health, comfort and productivity included suggestions for standing desks, ergonomic chairs and using a 2nd screen, One user said: “Having a second screen is a lifesaver! Speeds up a lot of work, from writing copy to editing web pages…”
Type: Home office set-up #Recommendations: 8 Website (example): https://www.projectergo.co.uk/
9. High speed internet
You might take this for granted when you usually work in an office with super-fast broadband, but high speed internet at home becomes essential for remote working, and a nightmare when you don’t have it…
Type: Home office set-up #Recommendations: 7 Website: N/A
Todoist is a productivity tool that helps you to organise, plan, and collaborate on team tasks and projects. Rated as the best to do list app by The Verge.
Type: Productivity #Recommendations: 6 Website: https://todoist.com/
What’sApp enables fast, simple, secure messaging and calling for free via your iPhone or Android smartphone, as well as a Mac or Windows PC. It has become a convenient tool for voice or video calls for remote workers during the coronaviros pandemic, because so many (2 billion) were already users.
Type: Communication #Recommendations: 5 Website: https://www.whatsapp.com/
12. Pen and paper
Sometimes, like on a conf call, you just need to scribble down some notes and get off the keyboard…
Type: Home office set-up #Recommendations: 4(*) Website: N/A
Basecamp is online project management and team communication software. It is one of the original remote worker tools. So much so that the team behind Basecamp literally wrote the book on working remotely – Remote – published in 2013 (an excellent read).
Type: Collaboration, Project Management #Recommendations: 4(*) Website: https://basecamp.com/
An interesting all in one solution app for remote work. It is designed to be an alternative to other popular project / task management and communication software, like Slack, Trello and Asana, while integrating with email tools like Gmail and Outlook.
Type: Collaboration, Project Management, Communication, Productivity #Recommendations: 4(*) Website: https://clickup.com/
Airtable describes itself as “Part spreadsheet, part database” and is a productivity and task management app that uses visual interfaces to help you with organsing team tasks.
Type: Productivity, Project Management #Recommendations: 3(*) Website: https://airtable.com/
Notion is another all-in-one software toolkit, designed to replace multiple apps you might be using for CRM, project planning, knowledge management, and communication.
Type: Communication, CRM, Project Management #Recommendations: 3(*) Website: https://www.notion.so/
Wrike is online project management software used by many top global brands. This collaborative work management platform enable you to view project progress, simplify plans, collaborate with stakeholders and streamline workflows. The company created a useful business continuity template to help people deal with remote work during COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing.
Type: Project Management #Recommendations: 3(*) Website: https://www.wrike.com/
As the host of this Twitter survey, Hubspot was always going to get a mention. While it is mainly an all-in-one marketing software solution, it does have relevance to this list as well, as its CRM and website development functionality enable dispersed marketing teams to collaborate and stay productive even when working remotely.
Type: Collaboration, CRM #Recommendations: 2(*) Website: https://www.hubspot.com/
While most of the tools on this list are software, the Pomodoro technique is a personal productivity methodology. With it, you break down your work into specific chunks of time – often anywhere between 25 and 50 minutes, followed by short break – typically 10 to 15 minutes. This method has been shown to help workers stay focused and fresh. Tomoto Timer is the most popular, and free, online tool to help you keep track of those intervals.
Type: Productivity #Recommendations: 2(*) Website (example): https://tomato-timer.com/
Another personal productivity tool, Toggl is free time tracking software that has premium versions for use across teams and entire organisations.
Type: Productivity #Recommendations: 2(*) Website: https://www.toggl.com/
Jira is a software development tool to help tech teams organise their workflow with Agile process. This is niche productivity and project management app for software development companies.
Type: Project Management #Recommendations: 2(*) Website: https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira
Openly promoting itself as a direct alternative to Slack, Twist is designed to enable online team collaboration, but also to reduce the chaos and distraction that can come from live messaging.
Type: Collaboration #Recommendations: 2(*) Website: https://twist.com/
* When tools have been mentioned the same number of times, the tool mentioned earliest is shown highest.
More thoughts on the list
It was noticeable that the tools at the top of the list are very much ‘of the moment’ and I think that if someone had asked this question 5 or 6 years ago, the likes of Basecamp and Evernote would have been towards the top. At the time of collating this list, Evernote had only received one mention…
Such is the nature of tech!