The COVID pandemic pushed millions of baby boomers into retirement. However, in an ironic twist, the pandemic also accelerated the rise of remote technology that’s now drawing baby boomers out of retirement to fill gaps in the American labor force. With growing inflation and dwindling savings, retirees are eager for both purpose and a paycheck — and remote work offers both opportunities. With that in mind, here are some of the best tools for remote workers emerging from retirement.
Communication and Collaboration Tools for Remote Workers
Some of the best tools for remote workers are the ones used most often. For example, communication and collaboration tools will be a regular part of each workday, while productivity tools can be a great addition when needed.
But other tools can promote personal development, improving your chances of securing meaningful remote work. The right tools can streamline your workflow and even help you maintain a work-life balance.
Here are some of the most common platforms you’ll encounter:
Zoom existed before the 2020 pandemic and was widely used in corporate settings, but it took a nationwide lockdown for the company to become a household name. The service offers video conferencing features that connect teams from around the country, a necessity for remote workers. In fact, if you’re looking for a remote job, your recruiter will likely interview you over Zoom.
You can download Zoom to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone for free, though your employer will likely invite you to join remote meetings through their premium account.
Slack is an instant messaging platform that lets you collaborate with your team in real-time (think of it as an advanced version of text messaging). This communication is best for quick questions, comments, or anytime a full meeting is unnecessary.
You can install Zoom on your laptop, tablet, or phone, which means you can take it anywhere. Once installed, your workplace administrators can organize discussions by subject and allow multiple users to join a conversation.
Google Drive is a cloud-based storage system that allows users to create and upload documents to share with collaborators. Any authorized user can create, view, or edit these documents, which can be great for working together on a shared project.
Users can rely on Google Drive for basic documents, Google Sheets for spreadsheets, or Google Slides for presentations. Google’s robust features also permit the use of images, maps, PDF files, and more. Some companies may even upload training manuals or internal documents to the drive for easy access.
Tips for Remote Workers
If you’re returning to the workforce, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed by these tools for remote workers. Here are some tips to get started:
- Choose the right tool: Slack may be quicker and easier than a Zoom meeting
- Make sure your computer or phone’s operating system is up to date
- Allow your employer to cover the cost of premium features or upgrades
- Ask for help when something seems unfamiliar
- Give yourself time to “learn the ropes” with new programs or apps
Every workplace is slightly different. Not every remote job will require Zoom meetings, for example. Take time to learn how your new job handles communication or collaboration tools for remote workers. You may surprise yourself with how easily you adapt!
Time Management and Productivity Tools for Remote Workers
Once you have your communication tools down, your next step will be to master time management and productivity tools. Some of the best tools for remote workers will include those that help you stay focused throughout the day and keep track of your progress.
There are many different digital calendar options, though some users may prefer Google Calendar for its ability to integrate and sync with your email. The right calendar platform will allow you to schedule meetings, set deadlines, and even share your calendar with other users to make scheduling easy.
As the name hints, Todoist helps you create to-do lists and assign deadlines to keep you on task. Todoist works on all of your devices, and it can even offer productivity reports to show how your workflow evolves over time. The app is free, though a premium version offers additional tools such as reminders, color coding, and the ability to upload files.
Asana is one of the most popular project management tools for remote workers. This platform allows you to collaborate and manage basic projects; even the free version offers unlimited projects, messaging, activity logs, multiple project views, and more. Asana can also integrate seamlessly with time-tracking software to manage the hours devoted to each project.
A time-tracking app is essential if you’re a freelancer who gets paid by the hour. The advantage of Timely is that it runs in the background without requiring a lot of regular interaction. Users can simply drag and drop projects into their timesheets at the end of the day, and Timely does the rest. The app will even provide reports you can use as part of your service invoices, making Timely a great choice for independent contractors.
Tips for Staying Focused When Working Remotely
Of course, all the tools in the world won’t guarantee you’ll stay productive when working from home. Here are some tips on staying focused when you work remotely:
- Have a designated workspace or home office
- Communicate your working hours to family or housemates
- Dress for work! Pajamas are a tempting choice, but your attire can remind you of your professional goals
- Avoid distractions such as social media, television, or games
- Maintain strict boundaries between work time and family time
Most remote workers will need to find a rhythm that works for them, but these tips can help you stay productive while maintaining a work-life balance.
Learning and Development Resources
After returning to the workforce, some retirees discover a desire to expand their horizons by learning new skills. So what tools for remote workers can help you stay engaged and expand your knowledge?
Coursera has rapidly emerged as one of the best learning tools for remote workers, thanks to the platform’s robust selection of courses and features. The app features limited free access to courses from some of the best teachers in the world, including institutions such as Yale, Princeton, and Stanford.
Though originally focused on engineering and science, Khan Academy has since expanded its resource library to include business and professional development and a host of other subjects. Content is organized in a series of short videos, which can make them easier to digest in small doses.
Udemy Business offers a growing array of instructional videos on many business-related subjects. Like the above options, this can be helpful for those looking to expand their knowledge of the business world. However, be aware that the platform allows for a broader range of experts to produce teaching content, which means you won’t have the same confidence in the quality of every video.
If you’re looking to learn a new set of skills, then Skillshare is one of the best tools for remote workers and creative professionals. Courses range from videography to programming to graphic design and more. But most significantly, the platform allows users to submit questions and interact with the content creators, which can be useful for guiding your learning journey.
You may already be familiar with LinkedIn as a professional networking site, but LinkedIn Learning now offers an extensive library of courses from vetted instructors. What makes this one of the best tools for remote workers is the high degree of interactivity. For example, users can take quizzes and complete practice exercises. Once you complete the course, you can display the certificate on your LinkedIn profile, which may help you stand out when it’s time to apply for a new job.
Podcasts are the new magazine. Some podcasts are good for brain health (The Daily Meditation), while others deliver the news in a digestible audio format (The Daily). Some podcasts are free, while others can cost a small subscription fee. Podcasts are typically no more than an hour, but they’re great tools for remote workers to listen to on a break or a walk.
Reading the latest business and leadership books will help you stay on top of industry trends. Many libraries even offer apps that you can use to download ebooks to your phone or preferred electronic reading device.
Social and Community Resources
You can find some tools for remote workers in the form of online communities or organizations. Here are some of the most popular options:
Online Forums and Groups
Many social media sites have groups dedicated to remote work, especially now that the hybrid workforce is here to stay. You can find these groups by searching on your social media platform, but be aware that these self-run groups tend to change and evolve.
For example, LinkedIn has several work-from-home groups that can help you network with other remote professionals. “Remote Work Professionals” currently has around 200,000 members, and you can find it through the search feature of your main LinkedIn dashboard.
Virtual Events and Webinars
Remote workers can sharpen their skills or expand their professional network by attending virtual events or webinars. Your employer may even be able to recommend specific continuing education seminars, though you’re always free to seek out your own.
Not sure where to start? Eventbrite — the site devoted to concerts and other events — has a special listing for online events. Browse these listings periodically to discover events that pique your interest or align with your professional goals.
Local events can be another great way to meet other professionals and learn about tools for remote workers. Depending on where you live, these tend to be harder to find, but they can be beneficial for expanding your local network or even simply finding social support.
Checking with your state’s Chamber of Commerce is a great place to get started. They may have information about upcoming events or other professional organizations that could be beneficial. They may also have access to specific local tools for remote workers or offer support programs that can ease your transition out of retirement and back into the workforce.
[Related: Retirement planning for Women]
The Importance of the Right Tools for Remote Workers
You’ll need the right tools for remote workers to succeed in your new career. The above list can help you find your footing in the new American labor force, and they can help you earn the funds you need in your retirement years. Try a few of these suggestions out, and find out what works best for you.
Of course, you can make the most of your retirement with the right financial tools. For example, Due offers an annuity product that can give you a stable source of income during your retirement years. To learn more, contact Due today.
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