I’ve been doing remote freelance work for a number of years. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with the right tools and processes in place working with someone on the other side of the globe. In my experience, success boils down to two main ingredients: communication and tools.
Picking the Right Tools
I have a few “core” tools that I use to help make working remotely actually work: Trello, Slack, Wunderlist and Gmail. There are hundreds of other tools out there to choose from. I’ve tried some of them, but these are the tools I’ve found that work for me and the people I work with.
Try different tools until you find ones that work for you and your team. Don’t settle on a tool just because that’s what others are using. Make sure that it adds value. If a tool is creating more stress then it’s probably not the right tool.
Knowing How to Use the Tools
Having access to tools is great, but a tool is nothing if you don’t know how to use it. Pick the right tool for the job, and take the time to get familiar with it. Here’s how I use my remote working tool set…
Trello helps me collaborate on projects with other people. I also use Trello to show the state that a project is in by moving it across the board. This gives other people instant insight into what’s going on. Trello is a very lightweight, simple tool, and their mobile app is great – this has huge value to remote workers who are on the go.
Slack is a great alternative to email and provides instant group and one-to-one communication channels. Slack helps reduce excessive emails, promotes transparency and visibility, and helps to keep communication in a single place. Slack’s integrations are pretty powerful too, allowing you to connect many of your other tools to it and use Slack as a main hub of information. Slack also has a great mobile app for communication on the go.
Wunderlist is like my personal sidekick. It’s my favorite to-do list application of all the ones out there. I use Wunderlist to track more detailed tasks that might not belong in Trello – an example of this would be “Send Invoice.” Like Trello, Wunderlist’s mobile app is really powerful and easy to use. Without this tool, I’d be forgetting things left and right.
It’s pretty obvious that remote workers rely heavily on email. However, with the above tools in place and used correctly, email can often be used to a lesser extent. I try to only use emails when absolutely necessary.
With that said, my preferred email client is Gmail – it comes with an entire suite of tools (Docs, Drive, Calendar, and much more) that come in handy for working remotely, particularly Google Docs. Google Docs is a free and powerful way to collaborate with others on documents.
In general, the remote tools that I use do a few things really well, and they all have strong mobile applications for access on the go.
Build Trust and Focus on Communication
When you’re working remotely, there’s already a big disconnect due to the nature of working in different geographical locations. The quicker and stronger that you respond, the stronger the connection is. It’s all about building trust and being easy to work with.
Without strong communication, you will fail as a remote worker. Focus on how you’re communicating. Put a little extra time in your emails, messages, documents, etc. It’s worth it, and you’ll save time in the long run.
Try New Things
If something isn’t working, try something else… whether it’s a tool, process, or style of working. There are so many different ways of going about doing things. Pave your own path to success and try new things!
Working remotely requires you to stay organized and communicate efficiently and effectively. With the right tools and processes in place, you can do that with ease and focus on producing high-quality work that you’re proud of.
About the Author
Jake Bartlett is a software tester and writer for TestLodge, an online test case management tool. He’s worked as a writer, tester, and customer advocate for a number of different software companies.