Best Home Office Software for Working from Home iMore 2020

If you're new to working from home, the software you use is just as essential as the hardware. From time tracking to communications, there's a wide range of software out there that can help you become a master of remote working. We've rounded up a few options to take out the guess work so you can start working with all these handy tools ASAP.

Keeping in touch: Slack

Staff Favorite

Slack is a real-time communications tool that's become essential to how many companies communicate. Create different channels based on topics, send and receive direct messages with specific coworkers, and make audio and video calls as needed. Available on all major platforms.

Free at Slack

Time tracking: Toggl

If you need to keep track of your time down to the minute, Toggl is a wide-used solution purpose-made for that task. Offers a free plan with a decent feature set, while paid plans offer features like time auditing, XLS export, and project time estimates.

See at Toggl

Pomodoro on your Mac: Be Focused

The Pomodoro Technique is a method of keeping you focused on your work by breaking it down into intervals, with each interval separated by short breaks. Be Focused is a Pomodoro timer for your Mac. It lives in your menu bar, keeps track of your different tasks, and will interrupt you at regular intervals to make sure you're taking your needed bits of rest.

Free on the Mac App Store

Keep track wherever you are: Focus Keeper

The Pomodoro timer for your iPhone and iPad will keep you on task wherever you are. If you prefer to work from a mobile device, this is the perfect companion for keeping you focused. Pay for the Pro features to create custom timer lengths, set daily goals, get premium ticking sounds, and more.

Free on the App Store

Calling in: Skype

Skype as been the go-to app for video calling for more than a decade now. It lets you video chat with multiple participants, send instant messages, and even call landlines and mobile phones in countries around the world, all from the comfort of your desktop.

Free at Skype

Built for collaboration: Google Docs

When you think of collaborative productivity, chances are you think Google Docs. Work in a browser or the various Docs, Sheets, and Slides mobile apps. You and your coworkers can work on the same document simultaneously to make sure all necessary voices are heard on your projects.

Free at Google Docs

The old standby: Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft's productivity suite, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook, is still the productivity software chosen by many businesses. Now available as a subscription service, Office 365 comes in several versions suited to any kind of worker, remote or otherwise, with different packages offering access to particular apps and services.

From $70/year at Microsoft

Apple's document solution: Pages

Apple's own solution for creating rich text documents, Pages features real-time collaboration support, a selection of beautiful templates for multiple document types, and it's free to download for Apple device owners on each device's App Store.

Free on the Mac App Store

Beautiful presentations: Keynote

Like pages, Apple's presentation software, Keynote, supports real-time collaboration, with a variety of effects and slide transition available to make your presentations pop. Also free for Apple device owners on that device's respective App Store.

Free on the Mac App Store

Staying organized: Numbers

Keep track of expenses, create spreadsheets, use beautiful templates, and, yes, collaborate in real-time. Sync everything with iCloud, just like with Pages and Keynote, and work on your relevant documents no matter what device you use.

Free on the Mac App Store

Our recommendations

For remote working, keeping in touch with your colleagues is absolutely essential. To that end, I'd recommend getting Slack as the communication tool of choice. Between its ubiquity (your office might already use it), audio and video calls, and its app integrations, Slack is an all-in-one communications hub.

For keeping your self on-task, the Pomodoro Technique has proven effective for many, particularly those who work from home. I'd recommend Focus Keeper on your iPhone as the tool to use. That way, you're using the same timer or sets of timers no matter what device you're working from, using a device that's always with you.

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