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Top 14 Remote Work Tools You’ve Never Heard of (100% Free)

Work

Lawrence Haywood 23 Sep 2022 10 min read

Let’s not pretend remote work isn’t tough.

In addition to it being pretty flipping lonely, it’s also hard to collaborate, hard to communicate and hard to motivate either yourself or your team.

The world’s still catching up to the reality of a work-from-home future, but you’re in it now – what can you do to make it easier?

Well, there are a lot of great tools that have emerged in the last couple of years, all designed to simplify working, meeting, talking and hanging out with colleagues who are miles away from you.

Sure, you know about Slack, Zoom and Google Workspace, but here we’ve laid out 14 tools that you probably haven’t heard of.

These are the real game changers 👇

For Meetings

Remote meetings are super important.

Why? They’re one of the few times in the working day when you communicate face-to-face with your crew.

Don’t treat them as time slots for you to turn off your camera and finish your crotcheting project; these are social, insightful and fun events in which a company really feels like a collective whole.

And if they’re not, you definitely need the tools below 👇

#1 – AhaSlides

You and your colleagues are more than just a grid of faces over Zoom; you’re a group of individuals each with your own opinions, preferences and natural aversions to meetings that feel like your boss reading from his dream diary.

AhaSlides changes that.

AhaSlides is interactive. If you’re running a meeting, this free software lets you ask questions to your audience and lets them respond in real-time using their phones.

You can make a whole presentation of polls, word clouds, brainstorms, rating scales, get responses from your audience and show them back to them.

Watch the responses fly in on a word cloud!

But there’s more to it than ice breaking and gathering ideas and opinions. AhaSlides is also a Kahoot-like gaming platform, and can help you create a great atmosphere in your remote meetings through fun quizzes and spinner wheel games.

You can also import entire presentations from PowerPoint and make them interactive, or take ready-made team building games and other interactive stuff from the in-built template library 👇

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Quick Team Building Template
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Word Cloud Ice Breakers
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All Hands Meeting Template
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 Up to 7 participants $1.95 per month Yes

#2 – Artsteps

Stroll wherever you feel in this 3D presentation.

While we’re on the subject of out-of-the-box presentations, Artsteps takes your team so far out of the box that they won’t feel like they’re looking at a presentation.

Artsteps is a unique bit of kit that lets you create a 3D exhibition that your colleagues can join and walk through.

This exhibition can show off the team’s great work or act as a presentation with images, audio, video and text that each team member can explore by walking freely through the gallery.

Naturally it has a couple of problems, like excessive loading times, a restrictive upload allowance for media and the fact that, for some reason, you can’t make your exhibitions private.

Still, if you’ve got a bit of time to try it, Artsteps can really elevate your remote meetings.

Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 100% N/A N/A

#3 – Appointlet

On the more logistical side of the remote meeting game, let me ask you this – how many times have you lost an invite to a Zoom meeting in your obscenely crowded inbox?

With Appointlet, you and you team can arrange, schedule and keep track of all meetings across any meeting software in one place.

It’s also great at setting meetings with people across multiple time zones and integrating seamlessly with your calendar.

It’s pretty simple software and is 100% free as long as you want to keep the fairly decent basic features.

Appointlet simplifies meeting arrangements.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
Available $8 per user per month Yes

#4 – Fellow

Fellow is the more advanced version of Appointlet. Things are a bit more collaborative over here.

You can add your whole organisation and use Fellow as a place to arrange your team meetings and 1-on-1s from a bunch of templates. During the meeting you can jot down notes and afterwards you can turn those notes into minutes and send out follow-up tasks and emails.

It’s also a Slack-like communication app, with an ‘activity feed’, messaging, reactions and a tool for delivering effective feedback for other team members.

Naturally, with all the feature additions, it’s a little more confusing to use than Appointlet. It’s also more pricey if your team is more than 10 people.

Make minutes and follow-up tasks with Fellow.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
Up to 10 participants $6 per user per month Yes

For Collaboration

Do you know the reason so many CEOs, including Elon Musk and Tim Cook, are opposed to remote work?

Lack of collaboration. It’s harder for staff to work together when they’re miles apart.

That’s an undeniable drawback of remote work, but there are always ways to make collaboration as seamless as possible.

Here are four of them 👇

#5 – Creately

When you’re behind a computer screen all day, a collaborative brainstorm session is your time to shine!

Creately is a nice piece of kit that facilitates any team idea session you could want. There are templates for flowcharts, mind maps, infographics and databases, all of it a joy to behold in colourful shapes, stickers and icons.

You can even set specific tasks for your team to complete on the board, though setting that up is a little needlessly complicated.

Creately is maybe one for the more advanced crowd, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see how fitted it is to hybrid collaboration.

Less intimidating than Miro – Creately.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 up to 3 canvases $4.80 per month per user Yes

#6 – Excalidraw

Brainstorming on a virtual whiteboard is good, but nothing beats the look and feel of drawing on one.

That’s where Excalidraw comes in. It’s open-source software that offers collaboration without signup; all you have to do is send the link to your team and a whole world of virtual meeting games becomes immediately available.

Pens, shapes, colours, text and image imports lead to a fantastic work environment, with everyone contributing their creativity to an essentially limitless canvas.

For those who like their collaboration tools a little bit more Miro-y, there’s also Excalidraw+, which lets you save and arrange boards, assign collaboration roles and work in teams.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Excalidraw-1024x576.png
Limitless possibilities with Excalidraw.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 100% $7 per user per month (Excalidraw+) Yes

#7 – Jira

From creativity to cold, hard ergonomics. Jira is task management software that does pretty much everything when it comes to making tasks and arranging them in kanban boards.

It gets a lot of stick for being hard to use, which it can be, but that depends on how complicated you’re getting with the software. If you want to create tasks, put them together in ‘epic’ groups and apply them to a 1-week sprint, then you can do that simply enough.

If you feel like taking a dive into the more advanced features, you can explore roadmaps, automation and in-depth reports to help improve your and your team’s workflow.

Jira Software - Features | Atlassian
A smart board to track every task, both remote and in-office.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 Up to 10 users $7.50 per user per month Yes

#8 – ClickUp

Let me just clear something up at this point…

Right now, you can’t really beat Google Workspace for collaborative docs, sheets, presentations, forms, etc.

But you know about Google already. I’m committed to sharing the tools you may not know about.

So here’s ClickUp, a bit of kit that it claims will ‘replace them all’.

There’s certainly a lot going on in ClickUp. It’s collaborative documents, task management, mind maps, whiteboards, forms and messaging all rolled into one package.

The interface is slick and the best part is that, if you’re like me and easily get overwhelmed with new tech, you can start with the ‘basic’ layout to get to grips with its most popular features before moving onto the more advanced stuff.

Despite the enormous range of possibilities on ClickUp, it’s got a light design and it’s easier to keep track of all your work than the often confusing Google Workspace.

ClickUp adds Whiteboards to its collaboration platform | Computerworld
An interactive whiteboard is one of many collaborative features on ClickUp.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 Up to 100MB of storage $5 per user per month Yes

For Communication

Considering we’ve been communicating wirelessly since long before the internet, who would have thought it would still be so hard to do so?

Calls falter, emails get lost and still no channel is as painless as a quick face-to-face conversation in the office.

As remote and hybrid work continues to become more popular in the future, that’s sure to change.

But right now, these are the best tools in the game 👇

#9 – Gather

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Gather-1024x576.png
The AhaSlides office on Gather!

Zoom Fatigue is real. Maybe you and your work crew found the concept of Zoom novel back in 2020, but years on, it’s become the bane of your lives.

Gather addresses Zoom fatigue head-on. It offers a more fun, more interactive and more free way to communicate online by giving each participant control over their own 2D avatar in an 8-bit space that simulates the company office.

You can download a space or create your own, with different areas for solo work, group work and company-wide meetings. Only when avatars enter the same space do their microphones and cameras turn on, giving them a very healthy balance between privacy and collaboration.

We use Gather every day at the AhaSlides office and it’s been a real game changer. It feels like a true workspace in which our remote workers can be an active part of our hybrid team.

Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 Up to 25 participants $7 per user per month (there’s 30% off for schools) No

#10 – Loom

Remote work is lonely. You’ve gotta remind your colleagues constantly that you’re there and ready to contribute, otherwise they may just forget.

Loom lets you get your face out there and be heard, instead of typing messages that get lost or trying to pipe up amidst the noise of a meeting.

You can use Loom to record yourself sending messages and screen recordings to colleagues instead of unnecessary meetings or convoluted text.

You can also add links throughout your video and your viewers can send you some motivation-boosting comments and reactions.

Loom prides itself on being as seamless as possible; with the Loom extension you’re only ever one click away from recording your video, wherever you are on the web.

Loom: the fashionable application to record videos with screen | Mobile  Forum
Skip meetings – make a Loom instead.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 Up to 50 basic accounts $8 per user per month Yes

#11 – Threads

If you find that you spend most of your remote working day scrolling through Reddit, then Threads could be for you.

Threads is essentially a workplace forum in which topics are discussed in… threads.

The software encourages users to cancel that ‘meeting that could have been an email’ and embrace asynchronous discussion, which is a fancy way of saying ‘discussion in your own time’.

So, how is it different from Slack? Well those threads help you keep discussions organised and on track. You have a lot more freedom and flexibility when you’re creating a thread compared to Slack and can see an overview of who’s seen and interacted with the content inside the thread.

Plus, all of the avatars on the avatar creation page bob their head to classic Wii music. If that’s not worth a sign up, I don’t know what is! 👇

Never thought I’d see avatar Gandhi dancing to Wii music.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 Up to 15 participants $10 per user per month Yes

For Games and Team Building

It may not seem like it, but tools for games and team building might be the most important in this entire list.

Why? Because the biggest threat to remote workers is disconnection from their colleagues.

These tools are a great way to fight back against remote loneliness.

#12 – Donut

A delicious snack and a wonderful Slack app – both types of donuts are just good at making us happy.

The Slack app Donut is a surprisingly simple way to build teams over a period of time. Essentially, every day, it asks casual but thought-provoking questions to your team on Slack, to which all workers write their hilarious answers.

Donut also celebrates anniversaries, introduces new members and facilitates the finding of a best friend at work, something that’s becoming increasingly important for happiness and productivity.

Virtual Coffee and Conversations for Team Building | Donut
Head-scratcher questions from Donut that can help you bond.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 Up to 25 participants $10 per user per month Yes

#13 – Gartic Phone

Gartic Phone takes the very prestiged title of ‘most hilarious game to come out of lockdown’. After one playthrough with your colleagues, you’ll see why.

The game is like an advanced, more collaborative Pictionary. The best part is that it’s totally free and requires no sign up.

Its core game mode gets you to come up with prompts for others to draw and vice versa, but there are 15 game modes in total, each one an absolute blast to play on a Friday after work.

Or during work – that’s your call.

people drawing the picture of a bird walking along the beach in gartic phone
Things can get a little hectic on Gartic Phone.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
100% N/A N/A

#14 – HeyTaco

Team appreciation is a big part of team building. It’s a really effective way to stay in touch with your colleagues, up to date with their achievements and motivated in your own role.

For the colleagues you appreciate, give them a taco! HeyTaco is another Slack (and Microsoft Teams) app that allows staff to give out virtual tacos as a way to say thanks.

Each member has 5 tacos to dish out per day and can buy rewards with the tacos they’ve been given.

You can also toggle a leaderboard that shows the members who have received the most tacos from their team!

Messages delivered with HeyTaco.
Free? Paid plans from… Enterprise available?
 No $3 per user per month Yes

Next Stop – Connection!

The active remote worker is a force to be reckoned with.

If you feel like you’re lacking connection with your team, but you have the desire to change that, hopefully one of these 14 tools will help you bridge the gap, work smarter and be more happy in your online job.

If you’re still struggling with loneliness, remember to check out these things you can do at work to forge friendships.

Use this reference code when you checkout: AHAXMAS21