Telecommuting tools to help you work remotely

Sunday Signal

By Kim Komando, Signal Contributing Writer

With the growing number of people who work as independent contractors or otherwise on a freelance basis, and many seeking “telecommute” option to bring into their office into their own home, remote tools have become very popular.

With so many businesses planning for the unexpected, tech companies are keeping a close watch for opportunities to help. From a constellation of industry leaders, Google and Microsoft are some of the first to offer free work-from-home tools to keep businesses up and running.

Google, Microsoft offer free remote work tools

Working remotely is done best when the team is working cohesively in the cloud. Google’s G Suite is a business subscription version of Google Drive that includes popular productivity software like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. 

User accounts are secure and administrators can set up features like 2FA to protect essential documents and data. Google recently called off its annual I/O conference due to virus concerns and began offering G Suite and G Suite for Education customers free access to their Hangouts Meet video-conferencing service.

Businesses and schools around the world can host larger remote meetings and live stream with up to 100,000 viewers within a domain. Those features are typically only available in the Enterprise Edition but will be free until July 1.

Google’s big competitor in this space is Microsoft’s Office 365 that includes popular Office programs such as Word and Excel. Microsoft’s service also offers remote access, teleconferencing and live document collaboration. 

Microsoft Teams, the new name for business Skype subscriptions, gives you access to larger group calls as well as live document collaboration. The company is offering an upgrade to businesses and other partners with employees working remotely. 

The free Teams app has limits on file storage and the ability to record meetings, but beginning on March 10, Microsoft will lift those restrictions through a free six-month trial of the premium version of the app. 

Go here:
to find out more about the free work from home tools offered by Google and Microsoft. You’ll also find instructions for requesting the services and setting them up.

More tools for collaboration

If Google and Microsoft’s business tools seem like overload, Zoom is one of the most popular virtual meeting apps on the web and includes video meetings, chat and screen-sharing features. It also has the added bonus of split-screen video conferencing so you can see everyone at once, much like an in-person meeting. 

Zoom’s basic package is free and can host up to 100 users.

A terrific side benefit to using Zoom is its feature that uses soft-focus to make your face Instagram-worthy. Called “Touch up my appearance.” You’re welcome.

Slack is an all-purpose chatting app that helps employees stay in touch with one another, but unlike email, you’re limited to the employee network only. This keeps conversations private, encrypted and secure. 

Slack offers a free no-frills version good for light usage among small teams. For more storage and features, you can upgrade to the standard version for $6.67 per user per month. 

For information on Kim Komando on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks, visit her at

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