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Summary:

Working remotely means not having the easy access to the machines and systems you used to when you were cubicle-bound. Here’s a list of five basic categories of tools you should have at the ready, and a variety of options to consider for each category.

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Working remotely means not having the easy access to the machines and systems you used to when you were cubicle-bound. That means no no bottomless supply closet, no access to conference rooms or presentation tools like projectors, fewer face-to-face meetings. As you work increasingly in the cloud, what are the basic tools you need — and where do you get them?

Here is a list of five basic categories of tools all remote workers should have at the ready, and a variety of options to consider for each category.

Document Collaboration and Workspaces

There is a bit of a blur between virtual workspace and project management tools. These tools emphasize collaboration:

1. ideapi. Recently reviewed by Simon, this is a simple online tool for creating documents and collaborating on discrete sections of the documents.

2. Glasscubes. I’ve been using virtual workspace Glasscubes for a while now. Here’s my latest post taking a fresh look at the app.

3. Binfire. A free solution that lets you “manage projects by adding members, creating tasks and milestones, and assigning responsibility.” Here’s what else Amber has to say about Binfire.

4. Hyperoffice. A collaborative suite bundling email and communication, project management, database management and group meetings. Reviewed here by Amber.

Project/Task/People Management

Some of these tools also offer collaboration features, but they are more focused on managing tasks and people and getting things done efficiently.

5. Huddle. Many moons ago, we reviewed Huddle, and the team collaboration space is still going strong.

6. Cohuman. Delegate, assign and prioritize tasks with others for free. It even integrates into Google Apps. Simon published a screencast about this app.

7. Teamly. A collaboration tool with an emphasis on priorities, as Thursday explained in her initial review.

8. ProjectTurf. A collaboration app for running a project including briefs and time cards. Thursday reviewed it here.

9. Zcope. Simon felt this combined project management and collaboration tool had a lot of potential. It has slightly more advanced project management features than many of its competitors.

10. Mavenlink. This SaaS app neatly integrates project management, collaboration and invoicing. I reviewed it recently.

11. Microproject. Simple,  online project management for the smaller team. Here’s our review.

12. Wrike. We’ve covered Wrike several times, including most recently when the company added mobile apps to its project management and collaboration solution.

Desktop Sharing/Presentation/Web Meeting Tools

GoToMeeting is one of the leaders in the desktop sharing/web meeting space  (did you see the announcement of its Skype integration?), but there is an array of other useful remote presentation tools out there:

13. iMeet. Elegantly combines video and audio calls with document sharing. I reviewed it in March.

14. join.me. A  no-registration, free screen sharing app that fills a gap now that DimDim is now defunct. We’ve praised it here on WWD before, including announcing its iPhone app.

15. yaM. An app to streamline the process of holding meetings including planning, scheduling and note taking. See our review.

16. Zipcast. Slideshare’s quick presentation tool adding video and chat to your slideshows for public (free) or private (fee) presentations. Mathew reviewed it here.

17. CrunchConnect. Charles recently reviewed this web conferencing solution with an emphasis on sales.

18. FuzeMeeting. A fee-based video conferencing solution with collaboration features.

19. Yugma. Free and fee-based Web video conferencing with desktop sharing.

20. Zoho Meeting. Free for one-to-one video call meetings, or starting at $12/month for up to five participants.

File Storage/Sharing/Syncing

Giving the entire virtual team access to files – especially big ones – without having to email them back and forth is critical for remote work processes.

21. Dropbox. Store and share files in the cloud securely, and get access to them from your mobile device. Ryan covered the latest version of Dropbox late last year.

22. Box.net. An enterprise-friendly file sharing and collaboration, reviewed most recently by us here.

23. SugarSync.We’ve written about this file sharing and backup solution before including most recently about new features for its iOS app.

Miscellaneous Useful Cloud-Based Tools

A couple of online tools that help you do things that previously required pricey desktop software.

24. Diagram.ly. Simon recently reviewed this easy-to-use site for creating flow charts and other diagrams.

25. Tom’s Planner. A Gantt chart-based planning tool, with easy drag-and-drop functionality; it’s now iPhone and iPad compatible.

What are some of your must-have tools for remote work?

Image courtesy stock.xchng user spekulator

  1. Dasha Golubeva Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Aliza, thank you for including Wrike on the list!
    By the way, in a few weeks we’re going to launch Wrike’s web version optimized for iPad, Honeycomb and smartphones, so our users will have even more opportunities for productive collaboration regardless of their location.

  2. Aliza, thank you for including yaM! That’s great news for us! It’s worth mentioning, that yaM app has undergone its major update. The app is now even more user-friendly, more efficient and more integrated than ever before – all in response to user requests.

  3. I am curious about Central Desktop and Basecamp missing from this list?

  4. Liquid Planner is a great planning tool that can deal with uncertain reality.
    Pivotal Tracker is really cool for agile planning and issue tracking too.

  5. Andreas Sundgren Friday, May 6, 2011

    Thank you guys for including us. We feel honored to be on it together with all these other cool apps!

    Andreas/Guppy team leader at http://www.microproject.com

  6. Jakob Nyman Friday, May 6, 2011

    Great list! I really enjoy these kinds of compilations. Keep ‘em coming!

  7. Joseph Fuerst Monday, May 9, 2011

    Aliza, thanks for mentioning Binfire alongside so many other great applications!

    blog.binfire.com

  8. I second Bananaman in adding LiquidPlanner to that list. LiquidPlanner is a robust online project management system and collaboration tool and gives the team an unparalleled strategy for dealing with uncertainty in projects. LP also comes with a free iphone app!

  9. Good list, a lot of interesting updates there.
    Dropbox was my latest discovery, and it is really cool.
    Also Wrike’s free mobile apps are a real treat. We use Wrike very intensively, and iPhone app is a big bonus!

  10. Aliza,
    Thanks for including iMeet. You’ve put together a great list of tools that will make the workday much easier for the virtual employee.

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