The best products for working from home are software solutions with proven efficiency to support offsite employee productivity. These include applications for project management/collaboration, time tracking/billing, document management/file sharing, and communication.
When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, everything came to a standstill. Suddenly, “social distancing,” “self-quarantine,” and “community lockdowns” became the norm to prevent the disease from spreading further. And in an instant, workers everywhere were compelled to take stock of the best products for working from home, typically known in the industry as remote work platforms.
We’ve prepared this article to help you transition to a remote work setup, a development that caught many people unprepared. By knowing the essential products you’ll need, you’ll be able to not only survive the demands of remote work but may find it more advantageous and even enjoyable.
“Work from home” or “remote work” is among the most significant buzzwords nowadays. On the one hand, it’s the inevitable response to the widespread community lockdowns everywhere to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. On the other hand, it’s the business community’s collective initiative to keep the wheels of industries running, mainly to prevent any impending recession.
Even before the WHO formally declared the COVID-19 pandemic, FishBowl conducted a survey among employees to determine the extent of work restrictions or remote work setup being observed. Per industry, the most affected are advertising employees, followed by accounting and consulting workers. Overall, more than half (52.21%) of all respondents are experiencing considerable levels of travel restrictions or persuasion to work from home.
Source: FishBowl, March 2020
Amidst the horrifying ordeals millions worldwide are experiencing right now, it’s somewhat reassuring to know that employees can easily access software products that make remote work possible and even easy. Some products are already quite advanced since they’ve already been supporting remote work for years.
We’ve gathered here some of the best products for working from home. These are the essential software that you must have to sustain your productivity and efficiency, away from the convenience of your office workstation. We’ve also grouped them into the most common categories for remote work: project management/collaboration, time tracking/billing, document management/file sharing, and communication.
Project management software products help managers or team leaders to monitor assigned tasks easily, keep tabs on work progress, and manage the overall productivity of remote teams. Collaboration solutions are an indispensable tool for work from home employees. Aside from helping them work with remote colleagues, these software products offer a host of benefits, such as the smooth exchange of ideas, cost savings, and faster completion of tasks among work teams.
When it comes to collaboration and project management software products, monday.com is a popular choice, especially among remote workers. This solution functions as a robust hub that syncs all project data, providing streamlined task management. As such, it offers managers and staff valuable insights to make decisions as a collaborative unit.
This solution also offers an extensive range of workflow automation tools that facilitates project completion by empowering teams to collaborate seamlessly. Also, this highly flexible platform supports broad customization, enabling users to create process workflows according to their specific needs.
What’s more, this platform has wide applications, such as event management, design planning, sales pipelines, and marketing campaigns. It also has the essential tools for managing work from home employees, such as workflow templates, Column Center, boards, and project timelines.
monday.com offers a free trial, with four paid plans starting at $39 per month.
One of today’s best project management applications, Wrike, offers some of the best tools for web-based collaboration and project management. These include project dashboards, automated workflows, resource management, and interactive Gantt charts.
This software helps business users to build a collaborative work environment to allow for more effective management of tasks, projects, and business operations, even among dispersed team members. Its smart project templates are among its most popular features that numerous project management teams worldwide use.
This product offers a free trial and a free plan. Premium subscriptions start at $9.80 per user per month.
ProjectManager is an award-winning cloud-based project management solution that unifies robust task scheduling, project planning, and collaboration features to empower remote teams. With this platform, your remote teams can easily perform all their tasks from the comfort of their home-based offices.
From a single, smart dashboard, this go-to project management platform allows users to perform a wide range of tasks. These include creating new projects, planning and scheduling tasks, allocating project assets, and monitoring project progress.
It also supports seamless collaboration among remote teams, wherever they are, providing them with critical notifications, team updates, and task statuses in real-time. Its key features include real-time dashboards, team workload management, team collaboration, project templates, and instant reports, among others.
It offers a free trial, while premium plans start at $15 per user per month.
Jira is a popular project management platform that streamlines collaboration tasks by helping remote teams efficiently identify, prioritize, and assign tasks. Mostly used by software development teams, this solution is also increasingly used by dispersed work teams that use the same stringent workflows to complete their tasks and projects.
A major strength of this software is its robust flexibility to make project plans, using industry-proven methods like Scrumban, Kanban, and Scrum. It also allows project teams to easily gain relevant, actionable insights through Jira’s visual, data-driven analytics features.
It offers a free trial and free-forever edition. Premium plans start at $7 per user per month.
Another “household” name among remote workers, Asana, is a communication and work management solution that helps distributed teams work better. It does so by providing tools that help remote workers maintain their focus on their tasks, projects, and work objectives, wherever they are.
This communication software product also helps work teams better organize their tasks, make more efficient plans, and build more effective workflows. With Asana, managers and staff can collaborate more successfully using features like automatic updates to inbox/email, project permissions, real-time updates, and multiple workspaces.
Aside from a free trial offer, Asana also has a free plan. It offers a premium plan at $9.99 per member per month.
Detailed Asana Review
Talking with colleagues in-person about a project issue during work is impossible, if not impractical, when working from home. But since discussions are key to solving problems and getting things done, we’ve got the best communication software products to help us fill-up this gap.
These technology tools don’t only allow remote workers to closely communicate with each other. They also empower work from home employees to perform other things, such as sharing documents, conducting online meetings, organizing tasks, etc.
RingCentral Video is an all-in-one online communication suite that integrates remote team messaging, video conferencing, and other collaboration tools in a single unified solution. It enables business users to provide engaging online meeting experience for their distributed teams, anytime, anywhere, for up to 500 participants.
Remote teams across the world that require a highly-reliable communication solution turn to RingCentral Video to help them achieve better, faster collaboration. It also provides many business applications, including real-time negotiations of deals and proposals, product demos, brainstorming sessions, among others.
Moreover, work from home workers can access the system using any device, wherever they are, to ensure workflows are continued and tasks are completed on time. With RingCentral Videos, you’re in for a smooth online conference experience.
It offers a free trial, a free edition, and premium plans starting at $14.99 per user per month.
Flock is a comprehensive business communication solution that helps consolidate remote team activities and enhance their overall efficiency. It also helps to simplify process workflows to empower businesses if any size to boost their employees’ capabilities as well as help create a culture of productivity.
It is packed with robust features and tools to allow distributed teams to become more productive despite the limitations of remote work setups. For instance, its intuitive team messaging tool helps teams to maximize their output, enhance work efficiency, and accelerate communication across distributed teams.
This communication solution allows users to easily share and find documents, messages, and any business file. It also provides bank-grade security to ensure your business documents and information are safe from unauthorized access.
Flock offers a great free trial and a forever free plan. Its paid versions start at $6 per user per month.
Speakap is an advanced business communications platform that helps businesses to boost their productivity, drive collaboration, and connect team members anytime, anywhere. It empowers companies to streamline their communication, especially in helping ensure a seamless flow of information between the main office and frontline staff, wherever they are deployed.
This innovative solution also offers secure and branded communication that enables businesses to better engage with their workers, faster and more efficiently. Likewise, it is a go-to communication tool for remote workers as it provides a wide range of features and tools to support work from home setups, including smart mobile apps, chatbar with status, email and desktop notifications, etc.
Speakap offers a free demo and two quote-based enterprise plans.
Slack is a widely-used communication and collaboration tool used by businesses and work teams worldwide. Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business, or a large enterprise, this smart solution delivers the tools you need to work together remotely in a single place to get more things done.
Key to Slack’s efficiency is its capability to bring the right information, files, messages, and staff needed moving forward. Aside from providing extensive integration with popular apps, it can be used on multiple devices, so you can continue collaborating with your team anytime, anywhere.
Some of its powerful features include screen sharing, text/audio/video calls, group/private chat, etc. This solution has a free version and a free trial offer, with three paid plans starting at $8 per user per month.
Detailed Slack Review
From Microsoft, Skype is one of the pioneering communications software but is still one of the most used by freelancers, distributed work teams, and businesses today. This web-based communications solution offers some of the most reliable tools ever, including online-based texting, international calls, and video/audio/text chat.
Remote workers will find Skype very handy in their jobs. Its features address most of their communication needs, such as document and image sharing, group chat, video chat, video conferencing, and instant messaging. Millions of businesses turn to this solution, mainly due to its free video chat and other communication tools.
It has a free plan, offers a free trial, and three paid plans starting at $5 per user per month.
Detailed Skype Review
If you and your distributed teams need a secure hub that can be accessed by every member to allow for collaboration, you need document management and File sharing software. These systems can also help to enhance communication among remote members and even allow managers to address issues before they become full-blown problems.
What’s more, remote team members can use document management software to collaborate in real-time from their respective places. File sharing solutions offer a centralized, cloud-based repository where every team member can add, change, or share files relevant to your projects, at the same time. Here are some of the best examples of these software products:
PandaDoc is a web-based document management software that facilitates the creation, delivery, and sharing of documents. It also enables users to put their electronic signatures on documents to allow them to perform legal paperless transactions quickly.
This platform can handle a wide range of digital document formats such as docs and pdfs and can be used to create and manage legally-binding contracts, sales quotes, etc.
PandaDoc provides three pricing plans for companies of different sizes, starting at $9 per user per month, with 24/7 email and chat support on all plans. It also offers a free trial and free demo.
Dropbox Business is the premium version of the popular file-sharing app, Dropbox, but with added features, tools, and significantly larger online storage capacity. Users will still enjoy the ease-of-use, extensive functionality, and best-in-class simplicity, all at very reasonable rates.
Remote workers can use this software product to share their files securely, sync documents easily, and work with co-workers seamlessly. Aside from dedicated live support, it also provides you with ample online storage space and robust security to protect all your documents.
With Dropbox Business, businesses can maintain complete control of their remote workers’ activities and ensure the safety of their files and documents. What’s more, it supports extensive integration, enabling users to easily use the solution with their favorite third-party apps.
This software product comes with a 30-day free trial offer and three premium plans starting at $15 per user per month.
Detailed Dropbox Business Review
eFileCabinet is a multi-awarded document management solution. It is one of the most secure systems in the market, with robust capability to help businesses streamline their document workflow and remove paper-based and redundant paperwork. It also provides fast and excellent customer support.
This comprehensive document management solution offers multiple delivery modules to allow quick and simple file sharing and data migration. It also has a user-friendly dashboard, robust document security, and supports extensive automation and digitalization of most paper-based transactions.
eFileCabinet offers four enterprise pricing plans, starting with its Basic Plan at $15 per user per month. It also offers a free product demo and a 14-day free trial.
Detailed eFileCabinet Review
Samepage is an all-in-one document management and collaboration platform for businesses and project teams. By providing a single robust hub for all document and file handling needs, remote teams can seamlessly collaborate and get things done correctly and fast.
It provides an extensive array of features such as task lists, conversations, instant messages, files, meeting agendas, discussion topics, and task scheduling. Organizations of any type and size can deploy Samepage, which is accessible from any device. It also supports wide integration so file sharing can is possible using popular third-party apps, such as OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive.
Samepage offers a 30-day free trial, a free edition, and a paid plan at $9 per user per month.
Detailed Samepage Review
Backlog is a document and project management solution developed to help teams throughout the entire software development cycle. This is a comprehensive suite that is designed to enhance collaboration, organization, and communication among technical and support teams.
Can be deployed via the cloud or on-premise, Backlog helps remove workflow bottlenecks using its extensive array of features, such as task management, issue monitoring, and project tracking. It can empower software development teams, from planning and development to IT design and marketing.
This solution has a free trial offer and a forever-free plan. It offers four premium plans starting at $35 per month.
Detailed Backlog Review
Time tracking software offers a reliable way to keep track of every remote worker’s logged time, monitor task performance, create work schedules, etc. Also called timekeeping apps, these products come with many helpful features like timesheets, payroll computation, and analytics.
As a typical companion to time trackers, billing software tools take care of the financial aspects of working from home, including freelance work. This category of solutions is known to eliminate errors and hastens any billing process, whether for remote workers or freelance service providers.
When I Work is a time tracking solution that is user-friendly, easy to set up, and can be accessed on any device. Both business owners and staff can use it to easily manage work schedules and attendance, even when rendering remote work.
This solution simplifies the work of managers and team leaders as it can automatically integrate individual worker’s schedules. It also provides quick snapshots of work shifts to facilitate many scheduling requirements, including filling up unfilled schedules, approve off-days, etc.
When I Work is available for free for up to 75 employees, with flexible pricing plans starting at $1.50/month for additional features.
Harvest is a widely-used time tracking software product that millions of businesses use to manage the performance of their distributed workforce. It is packed with numerous features that include timesheets, task scheduling, and expense management.
Remote employees will find its smart timer tool handy for automatically tracking their work. In case they failed to log in hours due to electricity supply or internet outage, they can manually enter their hours in the system.
Harvest is also compatible with many types of devices, as it can be accessed via desktop, laptops, smartphones, or tablets. It offers a free plan and a free trial. Its premium plans start at $12 per month.
Detailed Harvest Review
BigTime is a time tracking and billing solution that has been simplifying the billing and invoicing requirements of freelancers, small businesses, and large enterprises. This all-in-one platform is designed to make time monitoring and invoicing needs precise, quicker, and easier to complete.
This system is highly customizable, complete with every tool you need to allow you to monitor timesheets and relevant costs on-premise and online. For instance, it makes all the required billing data easily accessible to facilitate your invoicing requirements. Likewise, it helps managers closely track workflows, tasks, and WIPs.
It offers a free trial with three subscription plans starting at $10 per user per month.
Detailed BigTime Review
Time Doctor is a time tracking software that provides precise tracking of work hours per employee. It can capture work hours in real-time to accurately determine if every team member is working productively in their work shift.
It’s no wonder that Time Doctor is a popular choice among business owners who have been managing distributed work teams. Aside from its main app that can be used in any device, features include an online portal, task- and time-based tracking, daily and weekly reports, etc.
This popular time tracking tool offers a free trial, while its premium plan is $10 per user per month.
Detailed Time Doctor Review
Toggl is an online time monitoring software that simplifies employee time tracking of remote workers. It is easy to use yet offers robust features, including a smart dashboard that provides a quick overview of staff performance, individual productivity, time use per task, etc.
Toggl can be accessed online using a browser-based app, a native app for laptops and desktops, and a mobile app (iOS and Android). It can be used offline or online and can automatically sync whatever device you use.
It offers a free basic time tracking plan for teams of up to five members and three premium packages.
Detailed Toggl Review
So there you have it, some of the expert-picked most essential remote work tools that are proven to help you sustain your productivity as you work from home. If you can deploy one product from each category, you can be assured that you can set up the needed basic workflow to complete your tasks.
However, these solutions can only do so much. Their advanced technology, intuitive design, and overall efficiency depend on how you use them to your advantage. This is why some remote work experts suggest these best practices to follow, especially for those without prior experience in working from home:
In case you’re already using some office-provided apps and found some to be inadequate, why not try some of the above-mentioned products. For instance, you can test drive monday.com as this is a remote-work certified solution that millions of distributed teams had been using for years now.
Good luck and stay safe, fellow remote workers!
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