As a digital nomad (or if you’re soon-to-be), you know that the way you work outside of “the office” just isn’t the same as the way you worked when you were inside. You’re less consumed by the everyday distractions of an office environment, you’re more focused on your everyday tasks at hand, and you’re more inspired by your surroundings than ever before. However, freedom and flexibility have a few downsides.
Because you’re no longer in an office sitting next to the people that you work most closely with, you are bound to run into moments of miscommunication. When you’re not physically in the same space, it can be difficult to build meaningful relationships with your coworkers and new clients. Staying in sync on project management can be difficult.
How can you tackle these challenges like a champ? Enter technology. Everyday, new tools enter the market designed to help remote employees manage their days effectively, achieve peak productivity, and find new clientele.
Not only do remote workers need tools for their professional life, they also use technology to help them travel effectively. When you live for moments, people, and places instead of things, efficiency and ease are the keys to maintaining that balance.
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is a person who is traveling the world while working remotely, often in a job that is done entirely with technology.
Though we don’t call the members of the Remote Year community “digital nomads” because the term doesn’t encompass the many different ways that members work (and we believe that the phrase indicates an unstructured, lonely lifestyle), the tools that we recommend to both groups are relatively the same.
Best professional tools for digital nomads in 2018
A video conferencing tool is one of the most essential tools in any remote employee’s arsenal. Face-to-face communication not withstanding, video calls are the best way to connect with your coworkers or your clients while on the road. With video conferencing, you have the ability to see their reactions to what you’re saying, bond over small talk in a way that is nearly impossible to do via email, and share your screen when necessary. We like Zoom because it allows large numbers of people to join a meeting room. Bring on the all-company meetings! You also have the ability to schedule video calls ahead of time (even recurring events), access to your own private meeting room code, and the chat function which is especially useful during Q&A-style calls.
Google Suite is a lifesaver if you have a location independent career, particularly if you collaborate regularly with your coworkers. As a fully-distributed company, our most used Google Suite applications are Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Forms, Gmail, and Google Drive. Google Suite provides our team members with the ability to edit documents and spreadsheets together in real time, to leave comments for coworkers, to tag people when action needs to be taken, and to store important assets in a shared, online folder. Google Suite works for us because it is adopted and used across the entire organization. As a result, our processes and the items we create are consistent and accessible, no matter who owns them.
Slack is a must-have, not just for fully-distributed organizations, but for traditional companies as well. Instant messaging in all its forms (Gchat, Chatter, Yammer, etc.) is a vital tool for businesses, but Slack takes things to the next level.
Slack is our go-to communication tool because it’s user-friendly and a perfect space for personal and professional to collide. When you’re not working in an office on a daily basis, that relationship-building element can feel like it’s missing. Slack gives you an opportunity to jump into conversations that would normally be classified as “water cooler talk”, while remaining committed to, and focused on, your professional responsibilities and goals.
Here’s why: Slack is structured so that you can not only send private messages to team members, you can also create group messages and even entire channels that are dedicated to specific topics or teams, so you always know where to search when you’re looking for that *one* piece of info that your boss shared.
Not all remote workers are employed by corporations. In fact, freelancers and entrepreneurs make up a big part of the digital nomad community. If you’re interested in finding freelance work, it’s time to get familiar with Fiverr. No matter which industry you would classify your work under, there’s an enormous opportunity for you to sell your services on Fiverr. From freelance software development to voice over services, proofreading, and even tarot card reading - there’s a need for it all on Fiverr. On the flip side, if you’re an established entrepreneur or a budding business owner, Fiverr could be the perfect place to find the freelancer that you’re looking for, from web design help to accounting support.
This one’s for all the social media managers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and influencers out there. Hootsuite is a great tool to use for any and all social media scheduling needs. Imagine how many hours you could save if you could schedule your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn posts ahead of time. Say goodbye to the days of adjusting your sleep schedule while you’re traveling to make sure that you’re posting in the right timezone. Hootsuite is the perfect place to interact with your customers and fans. You can follow specific hashtags and jump into conversations in real time. In addition to scheduling and community management, Hootsuite gives you access to analytics that will help you prove social media’s ROI for your organization.
Not only is Doist committed to being a 100% remote company, they create some of the best tools for digital nomads. From productivity to task management to communication, Doist’s tools were created with remote work in mind. You value clear communication and consistent collaboration - Doist gets that. They take the needs of remote workers into account for every iteration of their tools.
Todoist and Twist in particular are some of our favorites for staying organized on the road. Todoist keeps all of your tasks, projects and goals in one space, so it’s easy for you to access them - and difficult for you to forget them. Twist serves as a different way for teams to communicate. This isn’t your average noisy group chat. Twist keeps all of your team’s communication in one place so that everyone can get up to speed on their own timezone.
Doist’s tools keep teamwork simple, cohesive and collaborative, but they also allow employees to keep themselves organized on an individual basis. No more daily (or hourly) check-ins with the boss for an update on project status - these are the tools that surpass micromanagement in favor of autonomy and accountability.
Another one of our favorite project management tools is Trello. When you are working outside of an office, it is so important to be on the same page as your coworkers when it comes to the projects that you’re working on. Trello allows teams to collaborate via the cloud seamlessly. It has easy-to-use functions like drag-and-drop, tagging, and color coding and allows you to see deadlines in a calendar format. For teams that utilize editorial calendars, Trello is a simple way to keep everything in check and to hold employees (and employers) accountable for their responsibilities.
Parabol is software that was designed with remote meetings in mind. While we’ve talked about the benefits of video calls in the past, it’s true that if every member of the team is not engaged, it can be difficult to build working relationships or to determine responsibilities for a project. Parabol allows remote teams to catch up socially, then follow a guided meeting where teams can check in on individual progress and seamlessly transform a meeting agenda into a list of priorities and next steps. Many people cite productivity as the most important benefit of remote work - Parabol takes that one step further.
Figure It Out
Finally, this tool is perfect for remote employees who travel on a regular basis. Figure It Out is a Google Chrome extension that shows you the time in your specified time zones whenever you open a new tab. For teams that aren’t working from one central location, this can be a great tool for keeping track of what time of day it is where your coworkers are. We like Figure It Out because Remote Year employees are based all over the world. When we want to book a meeting or jump on a call, Figure It Out is a great way to double check that the person we want to speak with is actually available. It doesn’t hurt that this tool is sleek and visually appealing either.
Best Traveling Tools for Digital Nomads
Airbnb is the go-to tool for travelers who are seeking an incredible, unique place to stay in every destination. Consider this tool your new best friend as you search for clean, safe, Instagram-worthy, WiFi accessible abodes. Filters make it simple for you to narrow down your best options and hosts are verified so you can be sure that you’re safe no matter where you stay. On top of that, you can rely on Airbnb’s review system to ensure that the place that you’re staying is actually as great as you think it is. Check out what verified reviewers have to say about their hosts, the location, the cleanliness and the functionality of your chosen home.
You can also turn to Airbnb when you’re looking for an affordable option, even in a more expensive city. Airbnbs are typically cheaper than hotels, particularly if you’re only interested in a one-bedroom space, and they have a more local, homey feel.
If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, turn to Duolingo. This website engages you in quick, gamified lessons, teaching you important vocabulary and sentence structure in more than ten languages from Spanish to Vietnamese. You’ll be prompted with photos, asked to fill in the blank in a sentence, translate singular words, and even practice speaking the language aloud in order to ensure consistency and accuracy. Duolingo is the fun way to learn a new language!
If you’ve traveled internationally, you’ve probably heard of WhatsApp which is what makes it a must-mention in this list. WhatsApp is the free messaging app of choice for travelers, since it relies on WiFi instead of cellular data. You can send regular messages, as well as photos and videos on the app, and you can even initiate voice and video calls securely with end-to-end encryption. That work and travel group chat just got a whole lot simpler.