Must-Have Productivity Tools for Working from Home

Gimena Aguerreberry
April 29, 2021

The past year has seen a considerable shift towards remote working.

Working from home has increased by 150% since 2005, making it an increasingly common working style.

There are some great features of this, including a more inclusive work environment that lets people across the globe collaborate. However, it also comes with significant challenges.

One of the biggest challenges in a remote working environment is staying productive. When you no longer have direct access to team members daily, and your only communication is over video chats, this can be difficult.

However, we've done some research and come up with some of the best productivity tools for remote workers. Use this guide to discover various remote working tools so that you can stay motivated and efficient even as the work environment changes around you.

Just read on for everything you need to know.

Project Management Tool

Managing to stay productive is a lot easier when you have a project management tool to keep you focused on what you need to do.

There are several ways that project management software can benefit you and your remote team, as they often contain a complete package of essential tools.

While the exact functions of the management tools depend on the brand you choose, they often include a task manager. This feature lets remote workers get on with their jobs knowing a reliable piece of software will help them stay on track and prioritize tasks in real-time.

Project management software is also a great collaboration tool. Many varieties allow a whole remote team to work together in real-time, sharing to-do lists, comments on documents, and file sharing. A collaboration tool such as Trello helps to manage multiple tasks and deadlines.

Overall, a project management tool is one of the top productivity tools for remote workers looking to stay on-task and organized.

Best Bits:

  • Great Collaboration Tool: Easily link with colleagues to understand how your project is operating as a whole.

  • Meet Deadlines: Excellent at holding you accountable if you struggle with remote working.

  • Easy to Use: Project management tools usually have a simple interface with features like drag-and-drop so that your whole remote team can quickly get to grips with their technology.

File Sharing System

A collaboration tool that some companies overlook is an effective cloud-based file-sharing system. This item is essential for a remote team as it lets workers stay productive and avoids wasting time emailing the same document with multiple track changes.

There are many cloud storage options, but one of the most popular is Google Drive. Team members can make edits to files and have them updated in real-time, making it an excellent collaboration tool for remote workers. Cloud storage helps to keep edits uniform and prevents team members from having different versions of the same document.

Don't like Google Drive? No need to worry — there are plenty of equally great cloud-based storage systems that will allow your remote team to collaborate in a changing work environment effectively.

Best Bits

  • Real-Time Updates: No need to worry about sending files back and forth — cloud-based sharing systems are great for teamwork.

  • File Storage: Not only can team members see live updates, but they also don't need to worry if a document crashes or a computer breaks if they have software like Google Drive — the file is always safe with a backup handy in the cloud.

  • Perfect for International Teams: This is great if your remote workers operate in different time zones. Their colleagues can immediately see edits and comments when they next check the cloud storage.

Video Calling Application

Communication has never been so crucial for successful remote working. It can be challenging to stay productive and connected when remote working, but video chats are an excellent way to keep your team members productive.

Video calling programs can also be excellent management tools: video calling allows managers to explain tasks to remote workers more accurately, helping them be more efficient and precise.

Nowadays, you have a wide range of applications, from Zoom to Loom, Panopto, Skype, Google Meet, and more.

That said, there are several features that you should look for when selecting video calling software. Although all video chats are helpful, screen sharing is vital.

Screen sharing helps team members to illustrate edits or important information quickly during the video chats.

Although there are many video calling and screen sharing management tools available, you should pick one with minimal distractions to stay most productive. With 42% of the US labor population working remotely at the start of 2021, communication and productivity tools are vital for company success.

Best Bits

  • Screen Sharing: Many video calling applications and sites now have a built-in screen sharing setting, letting you quickly develop and share ideas with your remote team.

  • Real-Time Chatting: No need to worry about sending long emails with video calling software. You can chat through ideas and issues just like you would in the office.

  • Excellent Collaboration Tool: Video chats are a great way to brainstorm for new projects or iron out any issues you're having. You can discuss just like you would in person. With messaging, chat, and video now making up 80% of communication in the workplace, it's crucial you invest in a good video calling tool.


Although your project management tool may have some and calendar properties, using a specialized calendar ensures that you never miss an important deadline or meeting.

Whether you choose a cloud-based calendar or one that works through your personal computer, it's a must-have addition to any work environment.

Although it can be tempting to stick to a physical paper calendar, there are many benefits of moving to an online system. Not only do you no longer run the risk of misplacing the calendar, but it can automatically warn you ten minutes before a meeting. The notifications help you always to be prepared and never miss anything important.

Some calendars can sync with other software you use, such as Google Drive or a cloud storage system. This syncing will help you track deadlines and integrate all the items and files needed for a presentation or meeting. It's an essential collaboration tool, but one that's easily forgotten.

Best Bits

  • Never Miss a Task: No need to worry about forgetting important presentations or video chats — just set notifications to get reminders in advance of any meetings.

  • Include as Many People as Needed: One of the great things about calendar software is you can tailor it to your remote team. Have anything from a personal calendar to a huge, interactive one with all your team members.

  • Great Introduction to Technology: This is a great way to introduce team members who are hesitant to use technology to new project management software. Calendars are familiar to people of all ages and knowledge levels.

Task Manager

A task manager is a project management tool that keeps you meeting deadlines and reminds you of important tasks in real-time.

It is one of the best ways to stay productive as your management tools hold you accountable for getting work done. It works even when your remote working environment means that your real managers cannot do this in the same way.

One of the best things about a task manager is how easy they are usually to use. If some of your team members are hesitant about using new technology, or struggle with complex software, it's a smoother transition to going digital at your workplace.

You can easily find task management software with a bright, straightforward interface or features like virtual post-it notes, helping you stay ahead of tasks with enjoyable and effective software.

Just like a calendar, this project management software updates in real-time and can link to productivity tools you already own, such as Google Drive or cloud-based calendar applications. You can also have a personal task manager. With a collaboration tool, you can easily link with colleagues and enable file sharing so that you can meet deadlines together.

Best Bits

  • Interactive: This project management tool is ideal for big teams. You can all hold each other accountable and see how you're progressing.

  • Improve Time Management: A task manager is a must-have if you struggle with time management. It's one of the best productivity tools to keep you on track and help you meet deadlines.

  • Link with Other Apps: Easily connect your task management tools to other software you use in your work environment for easy file sharing and video calling.

Dictation Software

Gone are the days when you could brainstorm ideas on a whiteboard and always have a helpful copy of meeting notes provided by a secretary. Although video calls can be handy for communication, they can also leave you struggling to remember what someone said — depleting your productivity and the effectiveness of your communication.

One way to deal with this issue is to invest in some high-quality dictation software. You can easily dictate important information to the software and leave yourself detailed voice notes, ready to listen to when working on the project.

This software can also be a great way to communicate with colleagues. It's easy to send voice notes or messages and much faster to do than typing notes if you're pressed for time.

Also, dictation software is one way to avoid even more typing. Considering wrist pain is an increasingly common health issue related to remote working, anything that decreases your bodily discomfort is a plus.

Overall, dictation software can improve your efficiency and how easily you can work with other team members.

Best Bits

  • Saves You Time: No need to spend ten minutes typing up notes now that you can quickly say it to your dictation software and have it preserved.

  • Clutter-Free: Investing in dictation software can save you physical space, too — no need for cluttered notebooks filled with information or a desk covered in post-it notes.

  • Makes Communication Easy: Struggling to explain yourself over email? You can easily send large volumes of information via a voice note, allowing colleagues to understand what you mean clearly.

Stay Motivated with These Great Productivity Tools

There's no denying that it's challenging to stay motivated when working from home. Even for those trying to make the best of it in difficult circumstances, remote working can be tricky.

However, there's no need to lose hope just yet. Technology and software companies have been responding to the remote working boom by creating effective software and tools that will help you to make the most of the situation.

Whether you prefer straightforward video calls or need a new project management software, there's a great tool out there to boost your productivity.

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"Must-Have Productivity Tools for Working from Home" by Gimena Aguerreberry is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by Gabriel Benois.

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