Top tech tools to make home workers more efficient

So you’ve finally convinced your boss to let you work in your slippers one day a week. CEO Marissa Mayer might not agree, but a recent Harris poll suggests some 64% of home workers are more productive than office-based staff. And right now, 59% of firms have remote-workers on their books. But to reassure your boss he or she has done the right thing, you need to be as efficient as possible. That said, here are eight tech tools to help you do the job.

 

1.     Time-management
Every home-worker will tell you the urge to put on that load of washing or vacuum the sitting room is overwhelming, at least until you get into your stride. Prioritising your tasks for the day will help you keep track of your time. Time management app 30/30, available on the App Store, allows you to allocate times to your tasks, builds in breaks and tells you to move on when you need to.

 

2.     Remote access
Remote access tools allow you to connect to your office’s internal systems and servers. From email systems to making expenses claims, company calendars to shared folders, it’s essential you still feel part of the pack. Microsoft’s Remote Desktop is popular and Citrix is used by the big media companies as well as larger corporations. Most remote access applications can be used on most devices, from tablets to MacBooks, PCs to smart phones.

 

3.     Cloud storage
Whether you’re using Macs or PCs, cloud storage is the only way to go if you want to be able to work on projects, letters, spreadsheets and other documents and need others to access them immediately, without you having to dig them out and email them over. Google Drive is a simple-to-use application and Dropbox is perfect for sending large files, such as images.

 

4.     Inbox control
Allocate set times during the day to read and respond to emails. Apps like Outlook can refresh your inbox at certain intervals, from 30 minutes upwards, to allow you to concentrate in the meantime before you tackle the mountain of mail. Spark, available via Apple’s iTunes, categorises your emails for easy processing.

 

5.     Screen-sharing
Apple is the master of the instant screen-share, meaning you can discuss plans, documents, financials and other customer information with your boss – who will be able to see exactly what you can see. Careful, though. That selfie you took with your dog? If it’s on your desktop, your boss will see it – and he or she might not see the funny side.

 

6.     Video calling
Conference calling used to be time-consuming to set up and the signal was often unreliable. With Google Hangouts, you can invite contacts via your calendar to join your video call, so you can see and hear everyone you want to talk to. Apple’s FaceTime works equally well, and Skype’s quality has improved so much that even radio stations are using it to interview guests. It’s way more efficient than driving 100 miles for an hour-long meeting, and it’s free.

 

7.     Central database
When you need to get hold of someone you and a colleague had a conversation with months ago, you need an up-to-date, centralised database. Google Vault stores emails, chats, documents and files. Slack retains all of your and your colleagues’ texts and emails in one place. With a simple keyword search, you and those who work with you can find that text exchange from months ago.

 

8.     Cloud office
Microsoft Office 365 for Business allows you to work anywhere, from accessing files to replying to emails. And it allows you to pick up exactly where you left off on any device. G Suite from Google gives you access to integrated online calendars, massive amounts of online storage for file syncing and sharing and video and voice calls.