There’s a lot to love about being a digital nomad—perpetual travel, the flexibility to work from wherever you want, independence to design your lifestyle on your terms, meeting people from all over the world, and much more.
The number of people travelling abroad while working remotely across the globe has grown to more than 35 million, and since the start of the pandemic, interest in the lifestyle has never been higher. For context, searches for the term “digital nomad” have increased 94% in the past two years.
However, while this lifestyle opens up a world of adventure and a great work-life balance, you need the right tools to support your lifestyle and set yourself up for success. This is particularly important if you want to go all in on the minimalist nomadic lifestyle that calls for reducing baggage (digital or otherwise) as much as possible.
There’s no shortage of tools for professionals, though, so choosing the right ones is no easy task. Take productivity tools, for example. Their market size was valued at $41.9 billion in 2020, and it’s projected to reach $122.7 billion by 2028. Imagine how big the entire digital tool market is!
To make things easier, we’re going to explore the best tools for digital nomads in this article. But first, let’s classify tools that best serve the needs of digital nomads, whether they are full-time employees or freelancers.
The types of tools digital nomads benefit from
As a technology-enabled and location-independent professional—this is what a digital nomad is—the very least you need is a good internet connection and a device to work from.
But an internet connection isn’t going to manage your workflow, spur your creativity, maximize your productivity and efficiency, or help you collaborate with others. For this, you need additional tools.
- Productivity tools: These enable collaboration and reduce bottlenecks to help you streamline work, maximize productivity, and reach your goals faster.
- Communication tools: These tools help you remotely connect with clients or other team members.
- Project management tools: They help you to track projects and tasks, as well as schedules. Project management tools are a great way to stay organized and on-task.
- Cloud storage and asset management tools: These manage a remotely accessible storage system where you can save data and files.
Let’s break down each of these, starting with productivity tools.
In 2020 alone, installation of business and productivity apps increased 35% (or by 7.1 billion downloads).
Productivity tools have become increasingly popular among professionals, particularly remote talent, looking to increase their efficiency and work quality. People want software and apps that will help them use their time better and be more productive.
When choosing productivity tools, it’s important to remember that the best ones are intuitive, easy to learn, and effective. Consider the following list of productivity tools that digital nomads (including freelancers) can benefit from.
Organizing your schedule and writing down your to-do list may be therapeutic, but it’s also time-consuming. And you know what they say about time—it’s money. If you want to stay productive and on top of your tasks, you need to make the most of your time.
That said, using a digital calendar isn’t always a great option either. In most cases, people end up spending too much time entering or revising information when using the tool.
This is where automation comes in handy.
Calendar has created an AI-based solution that learns your schedule and uses this knowledge to organize, book, and update events and meetings on your calendar. With Calendar you can:
- Automatically schedule meetings and invite attendees.
- Sync across multiple devices and calendar tools, saving time so you can focus on your high-priority tasks.
- Integrate various project management and collaboration tools, plus digital calendars like Outlook, Google Calendar, and iCal.
- Get insights into the time you spend in meetings.
As a digital nomad, you will sometimes work in quiet places, but at other times you’ll find yourself stuck in crowded environments. It’s here that you’ll meet one of many digital nomads’ nightmares—background noise.
While distracting background noise can be hard to avoid at times, having the right tech can prevent it from being a problem for the other people you’re trying to communicate with.
Krisp gets a spot on this list because of the huge difference it makes when it comes to improving the quality of conversations digital nomads have over long distances.
The tool, which merges productivity with communication assistance, eliminates noise in Google, Zoom, and Team meets, allowing you to converse freely in noisy environments (think cafes during peak times).
With Krisp you can:
- Cancel noise, echoes, and any other voice apart from that of the primary speaker.
- Use virtual backgrounds during meetings.
- Monitor real-time call participation.
- Track your call performance and effectiveness.
Remote work is rewarding, but it’s also challenging. As a digital nomad, you will experience communication gaps, and ensuring that everyone is on the same page isn’t always straightforward. What’s more, you can’t rely on internet service to always be perfect throughout the day.
You need tools that offer effective ways to communicate about your projects and convey your messages across borders in a way that’s clear, quick, and efficient.
The following tools will help you achieve this.
The reason why Slack is so popular—it has over 12 million daily active users— is that it’s user-friendly, intuitive to navigate, and effective at allowing users to connect and collaborate. Slack has effectively reduced meeting and email communications by 28% and 32% respectively. This is big for any digital nomad, since emails and meetings, which are big parts of remote work, can eat into a lot of your time.
Slack lets you:
- Combine audio, text (instant messaging), and video chat features in one place.
- Organize conversations into channels based on projects, teams, or anything else that’s important to you or the teams/organizations you’re working with.
- Share images, videos, and documents.
Apart from this, the tool can also integrate with other platforms such as Dropbox, G Suite, Adobe Creative Cloud, and more.
Another popular tool, Zoom is an easy-to-use, lightweight video conferencing platform that integrates directly with Google Calendar. Besides its video conferencing capabilities, Zoom offers additional features that streamline communication and allow for improved collaboration. These features include breakout rooms and private chats.
During the pandemic, Zoom was one of the fastest-growing apps. Sales increased 169% and meeting participants went up 2900%. Today, the video conferencing tool is still growing, thanks to the continuous increase in remote working.
CallHippo allows you to communicate with your customers or clients the same way you would with any other phone service, but with extra features. For one, you can use the tool from anywhere in the world, something that’s valuable for your digital nomad lifestyle.
The tool also comes with features like auto-dialing, predictive dialing, contact management, and detailed call reporting. In addition, you get seamless integration, advanced analytics, and 24/7 support.
As a digital nomad, you can’t realistically learn the language of every place you live and work from. You’ll often find yourself in situations where you don’t understand a language, and it’s common for signs and menus not to be in English.
Google Translate will make your life easier in these situations. The translations may not always be perfect, but you will get an idea of what the locals are trying to say and vice versa. The tool allows you to download 50 languages, which you can access even when you’re offline.
Project management tools
Being a digital nomad requires smart planning, so proper project management is a must. You need tools that will help you plan, track, and manage your workload, as well as monitor your progress while you’re on the move.
The following are project management tools that supercharge how digital nomads and freelancers organize their work.
Asana has evolved over the years from a work management platform for smaller teams to one of the most popular project management tools in today’s market. It’s particularly popular among remote and distributed teams that are made up of freelancers and digital nomads.
The tool allows you to track project or task progress from start to finish with detailed to-do lists, commenting features for collaboration, reminders, and more.
Asana allows you to:
- Streamline processes and spend less time on routine tasks.
- See how much work you have across projects.
- Set goals and track progress.
- Sync your work in real time across your devices.
- Submit and manage work requests.
As the “all in one toolkit for working remotely,” it’s unsurprising that Basecamp is on this list. After all, being a successful digital nomad hinges on being able to work well remotely. Basecamp offers many valuable features and capabilities for digital nomads and freelancers.
The to-do lists, deadlines, and other calendar features will help you organize your work and set priorities based on the importance and urgency of the tasks. Plus, you can track files, tasks, announcements, and discussions in one location. When you’re working with colleagues or clients, the message boards, automated check-ins, and group chats will help you stay connected with everyone.
Basecamp also integrates with other project management tools such as Asana and Trello for increased functionality. It essentially functions as a virtual hub for remote professionals, teams, and organizations.
Trello tracks everything from a project’s overview down to its smallest details. The tool is very lightweight with a seamless and intuitive graphical interface that allows users to start managing their projects quickly.
You can manage activities, tasks, subtasks, and your time using the tool. For example, you can organize your projects into boards, which you can share with clients or colleagues to give everyone a view of how a project is progressing. You can also sort your tasks into lists based on how far along you are in a project.
Cloud storage and asset management tools
When you’re a digital nomad, cloud storage and asset management tools are your lifeline, letting you receive, share, and store your work-related files.
Built with remote teams and talent in mind, and often driven by AI, most cloud storage and asset management tools are good at assembling, storing, and retrieving complex data with simple human input.
Depending on your industry, you may prefer one tool over another, but the following tools provide excellent storage and asset management features for digital nomads and remote freelancers alike.
Flexible, simple, and clean, Notion’s all-in-one interface helps you manage your files and stay organized. You can:
- Create and manage workspaces.
- Store documents.
- Share documents with a customizable set of people.
- Use templates to save time when creating documents.
- Publish select documents to the web for public viewing.
Sometimes it’s best to stick to the classics, like Google Drive. The cloud storage solution makes life so much easier for professionals and digital nomads in particular, since it works seamlessly on mobile devices, the go-to for workers who are constantly on the move. All you need is a Gmail address to access the tool.
Google Drive allows you to:
- Save and store your files (documents, spreadsheets, images, videos, and more) in one place.
- Create folders and documents, with the ability to adjust the privacy settings of each document. You can determine who is able to view, share, and edit a document or folder.
- Use Google Docs as your core text editor. Google Docs—as well as other Google programs such as Google Sheets and Slides—allows you to collaborate with others in real time using the comment feature. This way, you bring your conversations into context and avoid losing time over back-and-forth emails or conversations on other platforms.
- Integrate with other Google tools such as Gmail and Google Calendar.
Thanks to its wide range of features, Google Drive remains one of the top cloud storage and asset management platforms.
Accelerating your productivity with the right tools
The digital nomad lifestyle often conjures images of lots of traveling and working from cool spots all over the world. But behind the sunshine and rainbows is lots of work.
Whether you’re a full-time employee or a freelancer, you still have to juggle various tasks, communicate effectively, and stay organized, or risk failure. You need the right tools to help you succeed, especially as the world becomes more digital and decentralized.
The tools highlighted in this article will help you to be in control of your work while increasing your productivity.
Finally, it’s important to remember that having the right tools also extends to your job search. As a digital nomad or freelancer, you may come across an ideal employer or client only to find out that they don’t hire in your location. In such cases, a company like Oyster can help you out. You can recommend the platform to prospective employers to showcase how easy it is to hire outside of their region, manage global payroll, and conduct a host of other services for global employees.
Ready land your next remote role? Check out Oyster's Global Employment Pass for a collection of resources to help you get hired anywhere.
Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.
Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.