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Remote working: Five pieces of software to keep you productive

Man working on laptop in office space

Sud­den­ly, remote work­ing has gone from being a nice-to-have to an essen­tial part of our lives. With mil­lions of peo­ple across the world asked to stay at home by gov­ern­ments in an effort to slow the spread of the coro­n­avirus, peo­ple who nev­er expect­ed to work remote­ly are now being forced to adapt. 

Humans are good at adapt­ing — in fact, it will be inter­est­ing to see what this prece­dent means for flex­i­ble work­ing once the cri­sis is over — but we all need a lit­tle help to make the most of the sit­u­a­tion. Man­agers can find new ways to check in with their teams and man­age per­for­mance. There are sim­ple strate­gies you can fol­low to keep a han­dle on pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. But good­will and thought­ful lead­er­ship will only go so far: we’ll also need the right tools. For most of us, that means tech. So here are five essen­tial soft­ware tools to keep you con­nect­ed, per­form­ing and pro­duc­tive when you’re work­ing from home. 

VPN soft­ware

A vir­tu­al pri­vate net­work (VPN) does a num­ber of things, but for busi­ness­es its main pur­pose is to keep your con­nec­tion encrypt­ed and secure. If you’re work­ing remote­ly and need to con­nect to office sys­tems, this is the go-to answer, and it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant if you plan to use shared wi-fi, as oth­er­wise you could be allow­ing unscrupu­lous types unin­tend­ed access to your organisation’s pri­vate files

It’s dif­fi­cult to rec­om­mend any sin­gle ser­vice, because what you need will depend very much on the size and require­ments of your orga­ni­za­tion. Many major sys­tems ven­dors, includ­ing Microsoft and Cis­co, offer VPN ser­vices: your own IT team will doubt­less have their own pref­er­ence too. 

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions software

It’s seem iron­ic to be talk­ing about peo­ple get­ting iso­lat­ed, since that’s why we’re all here in the first place. Nonethe­less, with­out the right resources to free lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, peo­ple do have a ten­den­cy to with­draw into their own per­son­al silos. Email is fine, but we’re talk­ing here about tools that can keep forg­ing those human con­nec­tions that are so vital if you want to main­tain vis­i­bil­i­ty, cre­ativ­i­ty and camaraderie. 

And there are quite a few to choose from. At Clear Review we use Slack for instant mes­sag­ing, group chats and calls; Google Hang­outs for video calls and screen shar­ing; and Zoom for con­fer­enc­ing, prod­uct demos and con­ver­sa­tions we want to record. Video is a real help: you do lose a cer­tain some­thing when calls are voice-only, and it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful for non-busi­ness crit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions: for exam­ple, for our month­ly well­ness ses­sions or the Fri­day after­noon meet­ing where we share the high­lights of the week. 

Col­lab­o­ra­tion tools 

Work­ing togeth­er on team and strate­gic goals is a vital­ly impor­tant way for us to keep vis­i­bil­i­ty on key work­streams and ensure that we’re all work­ing pro­duc­tive­ly and efficiently. 

Again, this is a chal­lenge that’s been solved by an excel­lent selec­tion of soft­ware. We use a com­bi­na­tion of Trel­lo and Asana for work­flow, Jira for tech project man­age­ment and Box for doc­u­ment collaboration. 

Shared stor­age

Most orga­ni­za­tions will already have this, in one form or anoth­er. OneDrive, Google Dri­ve, Share­point: all the big play­ers have their own ver­sion and you prob­a­bly use one already. Your IT team will make sure that access is secure, so your con­fi­den­tial and impor­tant data remains con­fi­den­tial, but what they prob­a­bly can’t do is make sure that the right data is there to be accessed. 

So if you don’t use this sort of tool reg­u­lar­ly, or you use it occa­sion­al­ly but are about to start rely­ing on it, do make sure that all the fold­ers and files you need are avail­able and that the fold­er man­age­ment is set up correctly. 

A decent inter­net connection 

In this era of broad­band for all, it seems strange that we’d even have to men­tion this. But the truth is that con­nec­tions aren’t always reli­able, and you don’t want to find that out while you’re on an essen­tial con­fer­ence call. All of the above stuff is great, and will help you work more smart­ly and effec­tive­ly, but none of them will work if your inter­net is being pow­ered by a ham­ster on a wheel. 

So take into account the num­ber of users in the house, as you’ll all be draw­ing band­width from the same well. If you have kids, or a part­ner who’s also work­ing from home, you may need to con­tend with two lap­tops, a gam­ing con­sole and a smart TV all run­ning simul­ta­ne­ous­ly (for example). 

If your con­nec­tion real­ly is per­sis­tent­ly poor, you can make do with a wire­less don­gle in the short term. 

Per­for­mance man­age­ment tools 

Most organ­i­sa­tion may have annu­al appraisals or oth­er forms of paper based per­for­mance man­age­ment process­es as well as engage­ment sur­veys to gauge how pro­duc­tive and moti­vat­ed the work­force is. But as more peo­ple start work­ing remote­ly, employ­ee moral can take a toll which can affect employ­ee engage­ment and ulti­mate­ly per­for­mance and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. The need for paper­less per­for­mance man­age­ment and a reg­u­lar mea­sure of employ­ee engage­ment becomes more of a necessity. 

Con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment tools like Clear Review can help you man­age per­for­mance and mea­sure engage­ment more reg­u­lar­ly. For exam­ple, reg­u­lar check-ins with your man­ag­er, feed­back from your employ­ees, and clear and well-aligned goals can help you feel moti­vat­ed and give you a sense of pur­pose and accom­plish­ment. Plus, Clear Review helps you under­stand how engaged your work­force is by allow­ing you to gath­er employ­ee feed­back and pro­vide a safe space for employ­ees to voice their con­cerns and ideas. Employ­ees can also self-reflect on how they are feel­ing about work, which is so impor­tant when they are often work­ing in isolation. 

Learn more about how you can keep your work­force pro­duc­tive and engaged

Find out how Clear Review’s con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment tool can help you main­tain a cul­ture of high per­for­mance, and keep employ­ees engaged while they are work­ing remote­ly. Book an online demo where a mem­ber of our team will take you through the platform. 

Book a free demo of Clear Review

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