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3 Tools I Can’t Do Without for Remote Working

By Jen Filla

Right now we are all grappling with a pandemic and those of us who can are working from home. You might be a pro at remote work, or you might be struggling to create a new work routine at home, or worried about how to best manage remote workers.

In this post I wanted to share with you the top three tools that form the foundation for the remote work lifestyle that I’ve been living for more than 12 years now, from many different places around the globe. Because frustrating stuff happens!

  • Arrive at my Airbnb to discover the internet is OUT and I have to visit the local café?
  • Computer DIES the day before a deadline and I have to work at the library’s computer?

I could go on, but I think you probably get the picture. Travel has dropped me suddenly into situations where getting the work done was challenging. Below are three tools I rely upon the most to keep me sane and focused no matter what.

I’m in love with this platform because it organizes everything in my life. I love this tool so much I have five active pages! One of those pages I use every single day. It acts as my digital control panel.

Here are a few reasons why this tool ranks #1:

  • Widgets. It employs easy to use widgets that I can mix and match across multiple “file folder tabs.” The two most-used for me are hyperlink bookmarks and RSS feeds, but you can choose from a long list including sticky notes, clocks, video embeds, and more.
  • Software Explosion. Instead of being crushed by the amazing number of software programs I need to navigate daily (research tools, website logins, malware, accounting tools, multiple email accounts, timekeeper tool, etc.) and then those programs that I use infrequently and am always forgetting, and then all my favorite online reading, and, well, it goes on and on! Now they are neatly organized, named and linked inside click and drag boxes.
  • In the Cloud. Once you build a Protopage you can access it anywhere in the world. And so can the whole team. When you are under pressure, you only need to remember one website to access all of your key programs and points of information.
  • Locked. Or Not. Pages can be password protected, sub-pages can be locked, or the whole thing can be public. That’s versatility!
  • Free. Can you believe that all of this intense functionality is free? It is! There are some ads at the top, which you can have removed for a small fee.

Check out these two public pages:

Have you ever counted how many passwords you have? Do you know how many passwords you have that are the same? In fundraising we handle lots of sensitive data. Passwords matter. And when you need to access multiple accounts with urgency, access across devices helps. A LOT.

My husband and I had a 24-hour layover in Amsterdam one year. We decided to make the most of it and sightsee and rent a hotel room. We showed up at the airport early the next day, but they wouldn’t let us through the gate! Turns out the flight had gotten changed and we failed to recognize the implications. It was the left hand not knowing what the right hand did.

Using my password manager and the airport Wi-Fi, I was able to login to my airline rewards account, my email, and skype, to quickly re-book us on the next available flight. This was before smart phones were quite so smart.

Now that Aspire’s team is growing, we upgraded to the enterprise version of Lastpass. That means we can share passwords with each other with various security levels. And team members can control their own personal passwords, because it is all about shoring up the weakest link!

There are other benefits too, such as:

  • Strong password creation
  • Manage tasks, such as eliminating duplicate passwords (talk about weak links!)
  • Add payment (and other) information for auto-fill (shopping was never so easy)
  • Create secure notes (like my backup laptop’s password because I WILL forget)
  • End-to-end encryption, which means I had better type my Lastpass password every day because if I forget it, there is little hope of recovering my account (yikes!)

There are many good choices for password managers. Check out PC Magazine’s picks for the best programs:

There are many good cloud storage solutions, but I migrated to Dropbox a few years ago when it enabled a feature that allows clients to securely upload files without having a Dropbox account. In addition to that feature, here’s why I couldn’t do without it:

  • Internet AND Desktop Access. Yes, the Aspire team needs access anywhere, but for keeping data secure, all of us use the desktop feature. Our Dropbox folders are accessed like any other folder on our computer. This means files don’t stray onto hard drives or anywhere else that they might become vulnerable.
  • Security. All kinds of things happen. Client’s employees move on. Aspire sometimes uses contractors. When it’s time to take back control of the files, it can be done, and files saved remotely on someone’s laptop can be wiped.
  • Non-Internet Access. I love traveling and having desktop access to my files as a passenger in the car or on the airplane is bliss. Talk about being productive without distractions! The next time I connect to Wi-Fi, the files get synced.
  • Revision History. Who hasn’t hit the delete button by mistake? Or saved over an important file? And yes, there is a way to permanently delete all versions to comply with your data privacy and confidentiality requirements.

Your organization likely already has a way to share files in the cloud. Now is a good time to take the time to better understand how the tool can meet your changing needs and ensure the rest of the team is aware of expectations around how they use the tool from home.

Under the Tip of the Iceberg

Are you surprised that I haven’t mentioned Zoom online meeting software? Or Slack, a team communication program? Paring down to the top three wasn’t easy.

There are so many great tools out there! And even more great articles and link collections. Maybe the most important skill to be acquired in this digital age is focusing and filtering all that information. Curate your own favorites… maybe even on Protopage!

Below are a few additional resources if you want to keep going:

  • Work at Home Tips Podcast. The Scrivener Solutions team is a fount of software selection and organizational efficiency. In this podcast, they share tips from the employee and employer perspectives. Hints for a Successful Remote Work Transition
  • Your Virtual Image: When I was in Amsterdam, I did a session with an image consultant, Tammy Parrish, which was SUPER helpful. I met her because she had been a fundraiser in the U.S. You can tap her wisdom online for free! Three Tips to Improve Your Image on Video Calls
  • How to Work from Home Like a Pro | UMAMI Girl | This a wonderfully comprehensive and pragmatic guide to working from home – and a good read, too! How to Work from Home like a Pro