WFH, or Working From Home, is now something we are all getting to grips with. This might sound appealing to some of us – fewer distractions, no commuting, and you can wear your pajamas all day if you really want. But it comes with some unique difficulties. Especially, if you’re a parent.
Skip ahead to our resources:
- WFH Tools: Resources for Working at Home
- WFH Parents: Resources for Moms, Dads and Children
- Covid-19 Resources
The advantage of living in these times, is that we have the ability to work and communicate from home. If you have the internet and a computer, you essentially have everything you need to conduct business as usual. But for one thing, you need the right tools to do this. And for another, you have to deal with the challenges that come with your new workplace (like children, or just convincing yourself to get up in the morning).
So we’ve put together a comprehensive list of resources, tips and strategies to help you through this time. At FooPlugins, we have a remote team, so some of these tips are based on experience. But we’ve also found plenty of other useful ideas and tools that could help you out.
We’ll be updating the list with any new ideas, tips or tools that we come across, so if you know of a resource that we haven’t mentioned, please add it in the comments below.
Tips and Strategies for WFH
You can have all the tools and resources in place, and still struggle to get this right. Working from home requires a skillset that takes time to develop and a good dose of strategic planning. Having done this for a while, we know how difficult it can be. Here are a few things we’ve learnt along the way.
You need some serious skills, and you need to start working on them now! Time management is critical (see our tools section for help on this one). You’ll also need self-discipline. Your boss won’t be looking over your shoulder, but you still need to get the job done.
There are some strategies you can use to help build these skills:
- Set up a practical schedule, and stick to it as much as possible. Importantly, try to start work, and stop work, on time. This will help you establish a good routine.
- Factor in breaks. You can try one of the apps suggested below, or just get up from your PC and take a break from the screen. Take a lunch break – this will give you a chance to refuel physically and mentally.
- Speaking of food, try to follow a balanced, healthy diet. This is especially true if you have kids at home – make sure they know upfront what they can eat at snack time to avoid the inevitable “Can I have chocolate?” or “What about chips?” requests.
- Connect with others outside of your work responsibilities. Being social is important for our mental health, so have a video call with friends or chat to colleagues about how they’re finding WFH.
- Create a work space, preferably away from your living or sleeping space. Make sure you have everything you need in this space, limit your distractions and make it comfortable.
Once you’ve set up a good routine, you’ll find it easier to stick to it, and to get the job done. But as much as you limit distractions and have a routine, there will be the inevitable interruptions. Especially with children in the house. So it’s also important to be flexible.
- Create a good work-life balance. Take time for your children, as their schedule has probably also changed.
- Take time to stay healthy. Go for walks outside if you can, or find time to exercise inside.
- If you do have children at home with you, set up a schedule for them as well. this gives them something to do (instead of asking you to keep them entertained). It also establishes structure and gives them a sense of routine, even if they don’t always stick to it.
With your plan in place, you’re almost ready to start successfully working from home. But first, you might need a few tools, or some ideas for WFH parenting.
WFH Tools: Resources for Working at Home
Staying on top of projects, daily tasks and how the team is getting along can be complicated when you’re all in different locations. Below are some handy apps, plugins and other tools that can help you get through the work day.
WFH Communication Tools
Effective communication is a cornerstone of any business, both within the business and with clients. Here are some useful ways to stay in touch.
- Slack: keep team communication all in one place, plus you can open threads and share files. We’ve been using Slack for a while now and just love it.
- Teams : Microsoft’s answer to team collaboration, video and group chat.
- Monday.com: from project planning to team communication, this tool is a great option for effective collaboration.
- Doodle: schedule one-on-one and team meetings quickly and effectively.
- Workplace by Facebook: similar to your Facebook feed, Workplace allows you and your team to update, comment, share files, have video calls and more.
WFH Video Calling Tools
The above platforms also offer video calls for the most part, but there are some other more dedicated video services that you can also use.
- Zoom: video calls, voice calls and screen shares are all available on Zoom. We use Zoom for our team meetings, so we can definitely recommend it.
- Google Hangouts: add Google Hangouts to your browser and enjoy video calls, chats and more.
- Join.me: join or host a meeting, and add a personalized experience.
- Encrypt.me: if you’re concerned about online privacy during chats or video calls, you can try a service that encrypts your data, like this one.
WFH Project Management Tools
Another tough task for WFH teams is making sure everyone knows what needs to happen, when it needs to happen, and who is responsible for making it happen. These can help:
- Trello: another one of our favorite tools, Trello lets you create boards for different projects, comments, share files and collaborate. Trello also has a great selection of blog posts on working from home, like this one on being a happy remote worker.
- Asana: visualize your projects, keep your team focused and hit your deadlines with this work management platform.
- Basecamp: get dedicated tools for team work, create team spaces, and keep track of projects, all in once place.
- Notion: a single tool that lets you plan, collaborate, take notes, create documents and get organized.
- ProofHub: all-in-one project planning software that allows your team to plan, collaborate and organize projects, so that they can deliver them on time. On top of this, with ProofHub you can take notes, store documents, manage timesheets and more.
- It is also worth mentioning that Microsoft Project and Gantt Chart Excel software are also great options for creating Gantt charts and visually tracking project progress.
WFH Collaboration and Storage Tools
Need a place to store your documents, or a way to share files easily? Here are some solutions.
- GoogleDrive, Google Docs and GSuite: Google makes it easy to collaborate with others on your team. You can create and share documents and store them. With GSuite, you can do this and more to collaborate with others.
- Dropbox: A popular platform that makes it simple to store and share documents and other files.
- Box: a cloud service for secure storage of your priority documents. Box also allows for team collaboration and improved workflow.
- Extensio: this tool allows teams to collaborate and create beautiful presentations and living documents. With Extensio you can create a variety of documents, from sales pitches and reports, to case studies and agendas. A company style guide keeps everyone on brand, and you can track collaborator activity and sync your work.
- Milanote: this visual tool is easy to use and allows you to organize your ideas and projects on boards that you can share with your team. You can add images or photos, write notes and drag and drop to help you stay organized.
WFH Time Management Tools
You can get a bunch of tools to improve your communication and workflow, but they won’t help if you can’t keep track of your time. Try one of these time management tools:
- Self Control: this is a simple app, available on the Chrome store, that allows you to block websites that you find distracting, to help you stay focused.
- RescueTime: find out how you are spending your time online, so you can take back control of your day. You can also use this for your team, to establish where their time is going.
- TimeDoctor: track your time and your team’s productivity. There are pop-up ‘off-track’ reminders, reports and more to help your team stay on task.
- Toggl: a simple tool that allows you to track the time you spend on different tasks.
- Timezone.io: this is a simple tool that allows you to keep track of where, and more importantly, when your team is. You can see what timezone everyone is in, so you can schedule meetings at a time that works for all.
- World Time Buddy: if your team is scattered around the world, this tool can help you figure out what time it is for everyone. Simply add their location and you can compare your time to theirs.
- Clockify: this free time-tracking tool helps you monitor your team’s productivity, attendance, and billable hours. Clockify is a simple time-tracker and timesheet app that syncs across devices so you can track activity and get reports.
WFH Todo Lists and Note Tools
WFH isn’t always about talking or sharing with others. Sometimes you just need to keep track of your work or your team’s progress. There are some list and note tools that can help.
- Todoist: get all of your ideas and tasks out of your head and onto a manageable list, that syncs across your devices.
- IDonethis: make sure your team is in sync, using the daily check-ins, status updates and progress reports.
- Evernote: take notes, plan, organize, list and record. Evernote lets you keep track of your ideas and tasks easily. You can add Skitch to your app, which gives you the ability to annotate.
- Taskade: You can easily create and share todo lists and capture notes in Taskade. They also have a team calendar and roadmap, making it easy to plan projects, plus you can edit, chat and video conference.
WFH Fitness And Mindfulness Tools
With the added pressure of WFH, it helps to take a break. You might want to meditate, fit in some fitness, or just get into a different space. Here are some suggestions for you:
- Headspace: a guide to mindfulness, Headspace gives you exercises, videos, articles and more to help you achieve a happier state of mind.
- Take A Break, Please: this smartphone app allows you to schedule in breaks and set their duration. Look for it, or something similar, on the app store.
- 7 Minute Workout: there are a number of versions of this popular app, which basically gives you a series of exercises that can help maintain your fitness, in only 7 minutes.
- Live streaming Fitness Classes: there are a number of Youtubers who are streaming their fitness classes on YouTube daily. We like the classes by The Body Coach TV.
A quick note on exercise: taking a break is important, and staying fit is equally so. But strenuous exercise could do more harm than good. This article on Medium takes a closer look at getting the right (and the right amount) of exercise.
- Fyle is an expense management software helps streamline the reporting process and facilitates seamless collaboration between finance teams and employees. It helps to eliminate gaps in the process, caused by remote work, as all stakeholders are made more aware of the ins and outs of the reimbursement process.
WFH Parents: Resources for Moms, Dads and Children
Business is hardly ever ‘as usual’ when you have children to keep entertained. Even if they have homework to do, or planned activities to keep them busy, they still need attention, guidance and quality family time.
Below are a few online resources where you can find learning games, worksheets and other child-friendly activities, as well as some ideas for family fun.
WFH Online Home Learning
Learning at home can be plenty of fun with the right resources. Here’s a list of sites that will get children learning while having fun.
- On Scratch, children can program and share interactive media.
- Learn to code, on Code Academy.
- For free Maths activities, puzzles and more, try Transum Mathematics.
- Take a tour of Mars.
- Learn more about the farm with these Canadian farm and food tours.
- Funbrain has a collection of games, videos and books for fun learning.
- Explore Dr Seuss’s Seussville.
- Children can listen to their favorite stories, read by celebrities, on Storyline Online.
- Find a ton of activities, worksheets, crafts and resources on All Kids Network.
- For fun videos and science experiments, check out Club SciKids.
- Scholastic Learn at Home brings you a range of activities and worksheets for children of all ages.
- GoNoodle keeps children moving.
- Find over 7000 videos, in 13 subject areas, on HippoCampus.
- Khan Academy is an NPO that provides free, quality, online education.
- Find activities and ideas to help with your child’s development on The OT Toolbox.
- Find fun reading activities on Reading Eggs.
- Learn all about the periodic table on Chemicool.
- Children can learn all about space, with Nasa Kids Club.
- The Smithsonian Ocean website can teach children a lot about the oceans.
WFH Home Entertainment
TV Streaming is also a good idea for on-hand entertainment. There are lots of educational and family shows available on these platforms:
YouTube is a great resource for home learning and entertainment. You may want to monitor what your children watch or search for, though. YouTube can be an effective way to teach children about some difficult subjects. The Coronavirus is a good example of this, as children may not understand what it is, or why they can’t go to school. This video explains it all in a way that children can understand.
Audible lets you stream stories on your desktop, laptop, phone or PC. Choose from a collection of titles in over 6 languages.
WFH Family Downtime
Board games are a good way for everyone to relieve some stress and boredom. They can also be amazing teaching tools (without children even realizing it).
You can have play quick games, like UNO or Sushi Go, during the day, or try your hand at longer campaign games like Risk in the evening. Personally, we love games like Ticket to Ride, Splendor and Forbidden Island.
Art is a great activity for children, and you can take a break and join in the fun too. Here are few sites with some amazing ideas for getting creative:
- Art for Kids Hub: How-to videos for all ages and plenty of different types of art.
- The Artful Parent: A creative blog with some inspiring ideas.
- Tate Kids: Children can be inspired by art, play games, take quizzes, explore the works of famous artists and get creative with their own artistic projects.
Another way to pass the time, while teaching your children some useful life lessons, is to indulge in a bit of baking. There are tons of kid-friendly recipes online; just search for what you want to bake. Or try some of the recipes on Highlights Kids.
Virtual Family Vacations
As much as we all want (and need) a vacation, this just isn’t possible right now. The solution? Take a virtual vacation. Here are some ways to do just this.
- Go on a virtual tour of your dream destination.
- Visit a zoo through live animal cams, like these at the Sandiego Zoo.
- Take a thrill ride on YouTube.
- Explore the British Museum, or take a tour of the Louvre
Virtual Summer Camps is a new venture designed to support students and parents during the summer months. Each half-day summer camp is one week long, with enrichment-based classes in subjects like foreign languages, chess, theater, coding, Minecraft, how to be a detective, photography, and more. These live, interactive classes are taught by expert instructors vetted through Varsity Tutors’ platform. The camps are free, and they’re open to children 5-18 years old from June to August.
To stay up to date with the Coronavirus, or for advice, travel tips and answers to common questions, take a look at what the World Health Organization has to say. There is also a free API for data on the Coronavirus.
Google has also put together a selection of useful resources, from learning at home and coping mechanisms, to cooking and working out.
Syed Balkhi from WPBeginner has put together a great roundup for small businesses on how to get started using WordPress.
Digital Trends has put together this handy resource on working from home. It includes recommendations for home office equipment, apps that can help and a whole lot more.
Share Your WFH Resources
Do you have any more tips, strategies or tools? Please share in the comments below.