April 29, 2020 | 6-minute read (1164 words)
The workplace as we know it has changed — probably forever. The trend of working remotely has been on the rise for quite some time now, but COVID-19 has sped the pace of change around telecommuting. As remote work grows in popularity, the need for remote work tools has also expanded. These productivity tools are meant to make people work smarter rather than harder.
Check out these quick hacks and shortcuts for using a few of the most popular remote work productivity tools.
A great tool for collaboration, Google Suite — or G Suite — lets you share files such as documents, spreadsheets and presentations with your remote colleagues. G Suite’s business tools include Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides and Google Drive.
Use Keyboard Shortcuts on Gmail. Before you can use keyboard shortcuts on Gmail, you need to turn them on. On a computer, go to the Gmail website. On the top right, click on "Settings." Scroll down to the "Keyboard Shortcuts" section and toggle Keyboard Shortcuts to “On.” Then, click “Save Changes.”
Now, to see the whole list of shortcuts, from your Gmail inbox, click Shift + - + ?
Save Time with Google Docs. Google Docs is great for writing, collaborating or simply copy editing. Here are some tips that will help you derive the most out of this tool:
- To view the list of keyboard shortcuts, press Ctrl + / (on Windows, Chrome OS) or command + / (on Mac).
- You don’t need to go through the hassle of typing something out anymore. The voice feature works really well on Google Docs. You’ll need a microphone before you go to Tools > Voice Typing to enable it. Then, simply click on the microphone icon and start talking.
Learn Formulae Right Inside Google Sheets. The use of formulae is one of the unique selling points of Sheets, remembering them can be quite difficult. Sheets can help you here. When you start typing out a function, Sheets provides the right syntax usage along with examples on how to use it. Just start typing a formula by typing the = sign and the formula name. Right when you open the parenthesis, a pop-up will show up explaining what that function does.
Slack is rapidly becoming the go-to tool for workplace communication, but a lot of messages can get lost in the hundreds of chats. Slack makes it easy to find important messages or files by allowing you to pin them to a private message or channel. Just click on the three-dot menu icon above a message and select “Pin to this Conversation.” The item will appear within a pushpin icon at the top of the thread, where all participants will be able to see and access it as needed.
You can also save time using these keyboard shortcuts on Slack:
- Alt + right arrow to go to the next channel in your history.
- Shift + Enter to create a new line.
- Esc to mark every message in the current channel or conversation as read.
To see all of the available shortcuts, open Slack and select Ctrl + / (on Windows) and command + / (on Mac).
If you work from home, you are likely to have heard about Zoom, a teleconferencing tool that lets you virtually interact with your employees and co-workers when in-person meetings aren't possible.
Some useful keyboard shortcuts for Zoom are:
- When in a meeting, type command + I (on Mac) or Alt + I (on Windows) to open the Invite window to quickly add more participants. From the Email tab, copy the URL and send it to anyone you want to invite to the meeting. Or, click on “Contacts” to directly invite a colleague from your contact list.
- Zoom lets you record calls as videos. First, enable recordings under Settings. You’ll log into your Zoom account, click on Account Settings/Meeting Settings, go to the Recording tab and click on Enable Video Recording. Now, type command + shift + R on Mac, or Alt + R on Windows to start recording any meeting. And type command + shift + P on Mac, or Alt + P on Windows to pause/resume recording.
- To start a screen share, type command + Shift + S on Mac, or Alt + Shift + S on Windows. And to pause or resume a screen share, type command + shift + T on Mac, or Alt + T on Windows.
Virtual Backgrounds. If you don't want your colleagues to get a peek into your home, use a virtual background on Zoom. Open your Zoom client, click on Setup and select Virtual Background. Either choose from the backgrounds provided by Zoom or click on + and choose an image from your computer to add it.
Did you know you can replace your landline phone with a Skype number and voicemail? Sign into Skype, go to the Account menu under Settings and choose View Account. Click on the Online Number tab and follow the prompts to set up a number.
To set up voicemail, click on the Voicemail tab and select “Activate my Voicemail Now.”
Purchase a calling plan that works for your needs from Subscriptions tab. Remember to leave Skype running on your computer or mobile device to ensure you can answer all of the calls that come through.
While setting up a meeting using this tool is quite simple, you can create events without opening the app or website — you can do this straight from Google search. This functionality works both on the phone and the computer. On the desktop, start a search with "schedule" or "make an appointment" and Google will pop up with an option to create a calendar event right from the search results page. On your phone, you can use Google Assistant to do this.
Trello is a project management tool that uses Kanban boards to help you organize your tasks in the form of visual cards. Here are some keyboard shortcuts to help you be more productive:
- Press “e” while moving the mouse over a card to open quick edit mode.
- Press Enter to open the selected card.
- Use arrow keys to navigate from one card to another.
- Press “n” to insert a card below your selected one.
- Press the Space key while editing a card to assign it to yourself.
You can also turn your emails into cards and automatically transfer them to your boards. Go to your board, open the sidebar menu and then Email-to-Board Settings, and copy and paste the board’s unique email address into your email contacts. Then, when you receive a message that you’d like converted to a card, send it to your board.
A multi-purpose tool, Basecamp can be used for project management, scheduling meetings, assignment tracking, documentation and complete tracking from a single platform. Basecamp has a great feature to help you turn off the distracting notifications for one day — Focus Mode. Click on your profile icon in the upper-right corner and turn on Focus Mode. Everything from badges to notifications will be silenced until the next day.