Remote Work Resources in Times of Distancing

Friday, April 10, 2020
Christopher Sirk & crm.org
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We are now several weeks into the new normal.

Everyone is trying to maintain some semblance of “business as usual” around their work routine, wherever feasible. From startups to schools, remote work tools are filling the gap left by physical distancing.

Of course, some of us are already used to working remotely, so there hasn’t been a big change in daily routine—unless of course, you have spouses, kids, pets, and other family members also stuck at home with you, which is a whole other can of worms.

Whether you’re familiar with the remote work lifestyle or not, we’re all impacted by the psychological weight of this once-in-a-generation upheaval. 

It’s hard not to worry about the health of oneself and one’s family and friends. The economy is in a fog, and many of us have personal and professional plans upended and postponed. Reflecting on the tragic scale of human loss can be overwhelming.

But it’s important we are able to pull back from this big picture thinking, to focus on the things in life we still have some control over. We need to maintain ourselves, so we can carry on and look forward to better things. 

To try and help in some small way, we offer our list of resources in times of isolation, from work and well-being to self-reflection and handling distractions.

 

 

Remote work apps 

Below is a list of digital tools you may find useful as you build your stay-at-home workflow routine. They include platforms for video meetings, document sharing, team collaboration, self-organization, and more.

 

General productivity

Beynd

Beynd is a project management and automated onboarding platform that lets you create step-by-step templates, monitor task progress, collaborate with other people and automate workflows. It’s suitable for in-house teams working together, and for companies working with their customers.

Coggle

Coggle is a mind-mapping platform that helps remote teams visualize concepts and establish connections between ideas to perform better while increasing productivity.

G Suite

Based on the Google Cloud, G Suite encompasses the entire ecosystem of Google products, including Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, and Meet. This makes it an excellent one-stop-shop for managing your work processes, creating documents, keeping in touch, and holding video meetings.

Milanote

Somewhere between a mood board and a project management tool lies Milanote, a platform for organizing ideas and projects into visual boards. It’s great for creative remote teams who are looking for ways to declutter and think straight in chaotic times. 

MURAL

A graduate of IDEO’s Startup-In-Residence program, MURAL places an emphasis on human-centered remote team collaboration. The platform is like a digital whiteboard, but with deeper ideation and workflow functionality—teams can plan, brainstorm, evaluate, design, learn, and empathize together.

Notion

Notion is a no-frills, all-in-one project management tool with clear visual dashboards. It includes project boards, task cards, to-do lists, time tracking, calendars, and reporting.

Taskade

Taskade is a unified workspace for your virtual business environment, offering team chat and real-time collaboration on projects, and team roadmaps for planning, managing and visualizing said projects. Taskade keeps it simple, with all actions taking place within a single window. 

Trello

Trello is a general productivity platform built on simple boards, lists, and Kanban card views. Workflow automation and app integrations increase its usefulness further.

Tika

Tika is a project organization app with a collaborative calendar and task list, meeting, and note-taking/sharing features.

Zenkit

Project management platform Zenkit takes a flexible, multi-angled approach to boosting productivity, with list, Kanban, table, calendar, and mindmap views.

 

Video conferencing

BlueJeans

BlueJeans offers secure, multiparty video conferencing for intimate meetings and large town hall-style events.

Zoom

Zoom may need no introduction by this point—it has become the go-to video meeting app for 

teams.

Houseparty

A social networking service for group video chat, Houseparty is easy-to-use and compatible with both desktop and mobile.

 

Team chat and collaboration

Carrot

Carrot is a communication organization app focused on leadership. It allows you to prioritize project posts and make sure everyone reads important messages.

Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app with collaborative features for sharing info, managing tasks, and setting deadlines.

Miro

Miro is an online whiteboarding platform for digital collaboration. It lets distributed teams cooperate and build things together in real-time, as well share texts, images, docs, and comments. 

Slack 

A lot of us were already on Slack before, but it’s become ever more essential for team communication.

Standups

Standups lets you do all-hands meetings remotely and frees you from rigid meeting times that might not suit team members spread across the globe.

Twist

Twist is a tool for calm, asynchronous team communication and project collaboration.

 

To-do lists

Ivy

Ivy is a daily to-do app for getting things done while preventing burnout (it limits you to 6 tasks a day).

MinimaList

A super minimalist to-do list app, MinimaList is built to eliminate the enemy of productivity, aka. clutter.

Todoist

Todoist is a multi-featured to-do list app. It’s great for keeping track of tasks across devices (and integrates with other apps), so you can stay on target despite the distractions of working at home.

 

Remote work guides

Learning to work effectively at home takes time. The guides below offer tips for staying focused and organized, as well as avoiding going bonkers.

 

The Verge Guide to Working at Home

This helpful guide offers tips on how to stay productive, sane, and connected at home.

Miro’s Ultimate Guide to Remote Work

The makers of visual collaboration tool Miro have a useful guide to remote work, informed by their own years of experience as a distributed team.

Harvard Business Review - A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers

Some of us are working remotely for the first time. This Harvard Business Review article eases the learning curve, outlining challenges and solutions.

Slack’s Remote Work Tips

This remote work guide from Slack provides tips on channel management, making company-wide announcements, connecting all your work tools, and more.

 

Mental health and well-being 

Isolation and stress can take a real toll on one’s mental health. The resources below provide some ideas for managing one’s mental state and increasing one’s general sense of well-being.

 

PostivePsychology.com - The Crisis Kit

A free downloadable guide with 5 good science-based tools for navigating crises. 

Scientific American - Why Rituals Work

Whether for yourself, your kids, or your pets, this article shows us that creating rituals is a powerful tool for controlling our mental state—even more important when everything around us feels out of control.

Coursera - The Science of Well-Being (Offered by Yale)

This free online Yale course challenges students to build productive habits, and increase happiness by incorporating more mindfulness and wellness activities into one’s life. 

The VIA Institute on Character

This organization offers a free online character strength test (recommended in the above Yale course). Taking the test is a good way for anyone struggling with the current social transition to gain perspective and start reconnecting with their strengths.

Wired - “How to Work at Home on Lockdown Without Ruining Your Relationship”

Some great advice on how to get along with your partner in a confined space.

Tara Brach - Guided Meditation for Reduced Anxiety and Getting to Sleep 

Certified mindfulness meditation teacher, Tara Brach, offers 6, 12, and 18-minute long guided meditations to help calm your mind and get a restful sleep.

 

Media

While it’s important to stay informed, taking a break from the news can be healing. Still, not all media is stressful—films, TV, and music offer a window into the world and continue to stimulate and inspire the mind through tough times.

 

BeatSense 

A collaborative playlist platform, BeatSense offers an outlet for friends, family, and coworkers to interact with each other and share the tunes that get them through each day. 

Cinema Politica

Cinema Politica is a streaming platform for discovering independent cinema, political films, and underground documentaries from the world’s margins. You can try it for free for 30 days.

The Criterion Channel 

There’s never been a better time to binge-watch art house repertoire films. Thankfully we have the Criterion Channel (and there’s a 14-day free trial).

Criterion also gets extra points for their excellent, ethical organizational response to the pandemic crisis. 

Mubi 

Mubi’s cinephile-targeted film streaming service is a great place to see new movies with limited distribution and older hidden gems. They add one new flick a day and take one away (check out their 14-day free trial).

OVID 

OVID is a streaming service offering international cinema, independent documentaries, and hard-to-find underground classics (and yes, there’s a 14-day free trial).

 

Podcasts

There’s something inherently comforting about talk radio. The format’s spirit of intimacy, now embodied in podcasts, places you in conversations outside the parameters of your life. Whether you’re sitting around, making coffee, or scrubbing the tub, a good podcast can provide the perfect background noise.

 

On Being with Krista Tippett

On Being is a Peabody-award winning public radio show and podcast about being human.

NPR - Fresh Air

Fresh Air is a ‘weekday magazine of contemporary art and issues,’ offering interviews, insights, and deep questions. Hosted by Terry Gross.

Vox - The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show digs into politics and media with in-depth, ranging discussions.

The mindbodygreen Podcast

The mindbodygreen Podcast features open, honest conversations about well-being.

New York Times - The Daily 

The Daily is a healthy, concentrated 20-minute dose of news, published 5 days a week.

The Paris Review Podcast

Storied literary magazine The Paris Review has a popular podcast spanning their extensive archive of interviews, readings of fiction and poetry, and more.

 

At-home fitness

In this time of isolation, everyone is adjusting to a home workout routine (even Olympic athletes are getting creative), but sometimes it’s not so easy to motivate yourself. Below are a few good options to get you moving, from zen-like routines to full-body workouts.

 

Yoga with Adrienne

Free Yoga videos on YouTube, so you can exercise at home. All levels, genders, and body types welcome.

Fitness Blender 

Fitness Blender offers low-cost HIIT fitness programs to keep you on track to meet your fitness goals. They also offer free YouTube videos.

Sweatin’ to The Oldies with Richard Simmons

If you want to cheerfully trick yourself into an aerobic workout, check out eccentric fitness personality Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to The Oldies workouts on YouTube (a great option for the whole family).

 

Reading material 

Online or in print format, it’s no secret that reading has tremendous psychological benefits. Below is a list of some serious ‘food for thought’ options. Additionally, if you have the means, there’s no better time than now to support local bookstores, many of which are offering delivery services.

 

Yuval Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century 

In 21 lessons for the 21st century, award-winning Israeli writer Yuval Harari tackles the big political, existential, and technological questions of our era.

Adam Tooze, Crashed

In Crashed, economic historian Adam Tooze provides a fascinating history of the 2008 financial crisis and the world that followed.

New York Times, “They Survived the Spanish Flu, the Depression and the Holocaust”

This NY Times article tells the inspiring story of two women who survived the 20th century’s worst crises and have thrived into old age—in other words, it really does a good job of putting our predicament in perspective.

Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

In When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult TimesAmerican Tibetan Buddhist and author Pema Chödrön shares her wisdom on how to go on living as we overcome life’s most painful and difficult moments.

 

Time wasters 

Sometimes pure escapism is the best option, a sure-fire way to ‘change the channel’ and get some distance from the thoughts swirling around our heads. Here are a few options we recommend.

 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch has become something of a quarantine-era phenomenon. No shame if you’re all grown up; this is one of the few places people can still “gather” with their friends. 

Everything

Everything is a PS4 game about.. everything. If you’ve ever wanted to roll a bear around a forest and explore the scale of the universe, all the way from microbes and insects to galaxies, this is your game. Designed by artist David OReilly, and narrated by philosopher Alan Watts, Everything manages to be both profound and extremely silly at the same time.

Tetris

30+ years on, Tetris remains an excellent way to trance out. These days, you can play it for free on the franchise’s official website (using an ad blocker is strongly recommended).

 

Bloom posts from CRM.org

For further reading, check out our Bloom content—an online resource for adopting a growth mindset for a more human way of working, living, and finding success.

 

Brené Brown on Vulnerability

Being vulnerable makes us more powerful—according to Brené Brown, a research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy.

Emotional Intelligence - What it Means to be Human at Work

Emotional intelligence is real, and it has a big impact on our work. It’s a skill set both inborn and learned, and may well be more important than IQ and other measures of intellectual classification.

Growth Mindset

Adopting a growth mindset is important to success and personal wellbeing. We check out Carol Dweck’s highly influential book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and its lessons for life and work.

Headspace 

Headspace offers approachable meditation in app form. Now we can find a bit of peace and personal enlightenment on our screens.

6 Ways to Remain Productive Without Productivity Guilt

Productivity guilt is that anxious feeling of always wanting to accomplish more, or achieve better results. Here’s some methods for avoiding it and feeling more fulfilled.

Switching Things Up: How to Affect Change in Yourself

Change can be difficult, but embracing the unknown and affecting change in yourself is an important part of life.

The Benefits of Reading Fiction in a Digital Age

The benefits of reading fiction are many. For starters, it makes us more human, not to mention smarter and more erudite.

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