Must-Have Telecommuting Tools for Working from Home Online During Coronavirus Pandemic
The enormous expansion of coronavirus has made a lot of companies send their employees home, which becomes their office for a while. Working from home might not be the best solution for everyone, especially for those that live in multi-member families.
Still, we should be responsible and act according to the current situation. Working from home doesn’t need to be difficult – all you have to do is organize well and enhance your environment with the necessary tools and equipment that will allow you to perform your duties seamlessly and on time.
To make sure you have all the tools for telecommuting remotely, take a look at the following list of the 20 must-have work from home software and pieces of equipment essential for performing tasks successfully.
Before we mention software and telecommuting tools you’ll need for your WFH environment, we must talk about essential pieces of hardware you should have in your home office.
A functional laptop, computer, mouse, keyboard, speakers, headset, and other types of equipment are critical for any business, no matter whether it’s done from home or office. Therefore, let’s see why they play such a significant role in the working environment:
Although your home laptop might work great, your work should be done on a separate business laptop. If your company decided to implement work from home, it will probably provide you with a device that works properly and contains all the necessary tools and apps.
Tip: Even if you work from home, don’t use your business laptop for personal purposes – social networks, watching video content, saving passwords, and other things you usually do on your PC.
Mouse and Keyboard
Top-notch mouse and keyboard are a critical part of work from home tools, primarily because they significantly facilitate and enhance task performance. You can use either wired or wireless makes, but make sure that those you’ve chosen function properly. If you don’t have such equipment, your company will provide it for you.
Tip: If you’re using your company’s equipment, make sure you return it in good condition. Otherwise, you’ll probably need to pay for the damage.
To do your tasks much quickly and more conveniently, make sure you have an extra monitor, possibly bigger than the one you’re primarily using. It doesn’t need to have a full HD screen or other specs unless your job requires it. In that case, your company will give you one.
Tip: To make a more comfortable WFH space, purchase an affordable monitor stand that will allow you to set your monitor in the way that suits you the best.
A Good Pair of Headphones
If your business includes communication with clients or if you’re a sound designer, you’ll need a high-quality headset that will allow you to work from home without potential difficulties. Depending on your business needs, you may choose a headset with noise-canceling features and HD sound, or simply use the headphones that came with your mobile phone.
Tip: High-quality headsets can be pricey, which is why you need to determine whether you need more or less advanced features for your business in order not to spend too much money on something you might not use in the future. If your work requires making phone calls, make sure you purchase buds with Bluetooth compatibility and long battery life.
A Multifunctional Printer
Although you’re working from home, you may need to print, scan, fax, or copy something. That said, you should be provided with a multifunctional printer that will allow you to do all of the mentioned things easily and efficiently.
Tip: If you’re purchasing a printer, make sure you choose a smaller make so that it doesn’t take up much space. Your home office will look cozier with smaller and more practical pieces of hardware.
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Business Phone System – VoIP Phones
VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system has changed the way we do business, and it has significantly improved the quality of communication with clients or customers. Unlike landlines, VoIP phones use the Internet connection, which brings a lot of benefits to both office and home business.
VoIP service allows you to bring home your IP phone from your office and work remotely. It’s convenient because it will function as great as it operates at your office location, you will be able to keep the same phone number, and contact your co-workers, transfer calls, receive calls, and do a lot more things using your business phone number.
Read more about business phone systems and enhance your remote working.
Tip: If your company can’t lend you an IP phone, and you can’t afford to buy a new one right now, you can choose among numerous smartphone apps that offer IP phone service. They are often quite affordable, allowing you to contact clients from all around the world.
Telecommuting Tools and Apps for Working Remotely
Now that you have furnished your home office with all the necessary hardware pieces and phone systems, it’s time to talk about tools, software, and apps that are necessary for doing business from your home.
Collaboration tools are critical for maintaining communication with clients, co-workers, and employers during coronavirus crisis. Those tools provide a real-time engagement via audio and video conferences, as well as through the documents and spreadsheets.
Such tools will allow your team to work together and realize projects for clients essential for keeping the company alive during the worldwide catastrophe. Collaboration software is entirely secure, which means that no one except you and your teammates can access and see the messages and documents you share on the platform.
Let’s see the most useful types of collaboration tools you’ll need during this period:
TeamViewer is a software that provides secure remote access and support, and it’s vital for businesses done from homes. It allows users to manage, monitor, and protect all their devices and assets safely and efficiently.
It’s practical for working from home primarily because you can rely on someone from your IT team to install you all the tools and programs necessary for working, as well as to help you solve any tech-related problem.
Webinar software is convenient for hosting meetings online. Due to the unexpected increase in the crises, most organizations didn’t have time to think about the next steps, which is why they may benefit a lot from telecommuting tools such as webinar software.
These programs allow you to schedule and host meetings and invite a significant number of participants. Your meetings can involve both audio and video calls, and most platforms come with useful features such as screen sharing, mobile compatibility, third-party integrations, real-time chat, and other interesting options businesspeople will love.
Here are some of the best webinar tools you can use:
- Zoom – $14.49-$19.99/host/month (Free version available, too)
- Zoho Meeting – $8-$63/host/month
- WebinarJam – $39.99/month
- GoToWebinar – $49-$399/month
- EverWebinar – $499-$999/year.
Conference Call Software
Companies make conference calls quite frequently, which means that they will probably need to continue with them even while working from home. Install some of the best conference call software options and be ready for any conference call you should participate in.
Some of the best conference call apps include:
- Skype (free) or Skype for Business (from $5/user/month)
- AT Conference – pay-as-you-go
- Cisco WebEx – $0-$26.95/organizer/month
- FreeConferenceCall – Free
- GoToMeeting – $12-$16/organizer/month (Includes a custom-tailored solution, as well).
Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft Office 365 is an essential package for all business users. It enhances the users’ productivity and allows them to manage their tasks much more quickly and straightforwardly. It comes in two main business packages – Business and Business Premium. Both plans come with the app in desktop and web versions.
Microsoft 365 Business ($8.25/user/month)
Microsoft 365 Business is an ideal solution for teams that need collaboration and cloud storage, as well as Microsoft Office programs. This package offers the following software and cloud storage:
- Outlook: You’ll get an all-in-one tier that provides email, calendar, and contacts that will allow you to share files, schedule meetings, assign tasks, and more.
- Word: The most popular program provided by Microsoft Office is Word, a tool that allows you to compose texts confidently and efficiently.
- Excel: The most popular spreadsheet processor, Excel, will allow you to organize and manage your data thanks to a variety of tools, charts, formulas, and templates.
- PowerPoint: We all need a presentation program such as PowerPoint, which allows us to create presentations and pitches together with our teammates, who can access and edit the content at the same time as us.
- OneNote: A program such as OneNote is quite useful for taking notes, highlighting sections, and underlining important matters right from your phone, tablet, or desktop.
- OneDrive: Cloud storage that allows you7 to store files, photos, and documents is vital for business users, which is why OneDrive will be their best friend in the home office. You will get 1TB of storage and a valid license that’s available on 5 PCs/Macs, 5 tablets, and 5 phones.
Office 365 Business Premium ($12.50/user/month)
If you need a more enhanced business solution, then you should consider Office 365 Business Premium that comes with a more advanced feature set than the previously mentioned plan. Such set includes:
- Exchange: A more advanced version of Outlook is Exchange. It includes all the features that already exist in Outlook, but they are a bit improved.
- SharePoint: A browser-based collaboration platform that allows you to share data across the Internet, Intranet, or Extranet is SharePoint.
- Microsoft Teams: Thanks to this unique platform, you can chat, share data, organize meetings, and do a lot more.
- Business email hosting: You will be able to create a custom email domain address. Besides, each user gets a 50GB inbox.
- Video conferencing: Host video conferences for up to 300 users while you work from home.
- Customer support: You can rely on 24/7 phone and web customer support if you’re experiencing any issues with the programs.
Another useful program that offers similar features is G Suite. Learn more about the differences between G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 and see which program suits you better.
Microsoft Teams or Slack
Maintaining frequent communication with your team is essential, which is why you need a platform that provides reliable options for messaging and sharing attachments. Both Microsoft Teams and Slack can provide you with valuable features, but the choice is up to you.
To become more familiar with the upsides and downsides of each platform, consider reading Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: The Ultimate Comparison Guide.
Reliable Internet Connection and Wi-Fi Security
Apart from all the hardware and software tools you have, you need to make sure you’re provided with a secure and dependable Internet connection. Otherwise, you may not be able to perform your tasks successfully.
Here are some vital aspects of your Wi-Fi you should have in mind if you want to telecommute flawlessly:
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a must if you want to add an extra layer of security to your Internet connection. It will encrypt the data you send to websites and make sure no trackers can collect your sensitive data when you’re online.
Your employer will require you to use a VPN when working from home since your home Wi-Fi may not be the safest solution. Your company will probably install adequate VPN software on your device so that you don’t need to waste your time installing it by yourself.
Tip: Don’t try to implement a VPN by yourself if you’re not sure how to do it. Also, avoid free VPNs for business use since they are potentially dangerous, slow, and unreliable.
Endpoint security is critical for keeping your server and critical files stored on it safe from potential data breaches and cyberattacks. Most endpoint security software solutions include firewall, auto-sandbox, antivirus software, and URL filtering.
Tip: Ask your company to install a proper server antivirus software on your device so that you don’t waste your time trying to find one. Also, don’t rely on your home antivirus software since it might not provide a sufficient level of protection as the one made for business purposes.
Want to learn more about how to protect your cyberspace? Network Security 101 explains every aspect of a safe working environment.
You must have a reliable Internet connection to perform your tasks with the highest level of efficiency. Unfortunately, you can’t always count on the excellent signal, which may be affected by various factors you can’t control, or it simply cannot cover the corner in the room you telecommute from.
To make sure your connection is as strong as it can be (or even stronger), use a Wi-Fi extender. It will boost your Internet range and make sure each part of the room is covered with the signal, which becomes better and more convenient.
Remote IT Support
You never know when technology can go south, which is why you should rely on the best remote IT support team that will solve your problems in no time. Instead of trying to fix the issues by yourself and wasting your valuable time, make sure you find a reliable and tech-savvy IT guy who’ll install VPN, antivirus software, collaboration tools, fix failures in the system, and free your network from existing vulnerabilities.
Secure Networks ITC – IT Guys that Do Magic
Secure Networks ITC has been in business since 2006, providing on-site and remote IT support for different types of companies and industry branches across the US.
The current situation caused by coronavirus doesn’t let us come to your premises and solve tech-related problems, but you can contact us at 858.769.5393 and let us help you remotely. We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon!