Remote Working

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 virus outbreak many employers are willing or needing to enforce or enable remote working for their employees. This brings a lot of challenges and many organisations, who have not been used to remote working until now, might face a number of difficulties adapting to the situation.

Understandably, many organisations who never previously directed any strategic thought towards the available solutions for remote working in their business, let alone those which might be most suitable, now opt for a quick solution and choose to follow the - in the beginning often free of charge - offerings from big tech companies and their proprietary solutions. For many organisations these offers feel like "just in time" and seem to work out-of-the-box. However, that is often not the case and worse, they lock-in these organisations in the future.

This lock-in is unnecessary, since most proprietary solutions are just replacements of good Free Software solutions with a similar or better level of functionality. Some of it works out-of-the-box as well, others need an initial set-up, but afterwards feels like most other software you are used to. And we haven't mentioned the best yet: choosing a Free Software solution means to opt for a solution that has a future, where your organization no longer depends on a particular vendor or file format or whichever other means those vendors choose to lock you in. Free Software puts you in control.

The purpose of this page is to show you how to improve your remote work and still stay in control of your technologies by using Free Software. We follow up next with a short summary of the main benefits of using Free Software over proprietary solutions and offer a more detailed list of Free Software solutions below. At the end of the page we added a list of other existing collections of tools and advice that have been published in the last days.

Why Free Software For Remote Working

  1. Never be locked in again: Especially if your organisation is considering offering remote working after the Covid-19 period and when the free-of-charge-offers of proprietary services will not be available anymore you better avoid any potential lock-in to particular and proprietary software or formats right now from the start.

  2. Self-host now or later: If your organisation needs a quick solution now, or wants to choose software as a service and switch later on to self-host your own server and infrastructure by migrating workflows, data and everything created and stored in the meantime, then Free Software solutions are the only choice.

  3. Advanced privacy: Usually, Free Software solutions do not follow a data-driven revenue model. This means that your data usually stays in your hands when using Free Software.

  4. Enjoy competition: When you build up Free Software solutions you can choose among different providers to help you with the implementation. When you get in trouble with one of them - on legal, personal or other matters - you can simply choose another provider that offers a similar service or even directly takes over the maintenance of your existing infrastructure.

  5. Sustainability: When using Free Software you build on future-proven technologies due to their open licensing regime, open formats and open documentation. No more "end of support" or "end of lifetime". You can use and re-use any solution as long as you want.

  6. Global availability: No matter the jurisdiction you are in, you are always legally safe to use your software solutions when it is Free Software.

  7. Go with the standards: Only open formats can set true industry standards because any proprietary format by nature is an isolated solution. Open formats instead are the backbone of interoperability between different services.

  8. Localisations and diversity: Free Software solutions and protocols very often offer more than one client or implementation. That allows your members, employees or customers to choose for themselves how to connect remotely. Also, Free Software often has more localization and languages available, which can be of help if you are an international organization. (Adobe Photoshop, for example, is only available in 26 languages. Its Free Software competitor Gimp is available in over 60 languages)

  9. Do it yourself: Set up your own local infrastructure whenever you are ready and chose the same software everyone is already used to. Enjoy help and knowledge sharing culture in vibrant communities.

Free Software in practice

In this section we provide a list of possible Free Software solutions that you can use for remote working with a quick explanation in alphabetical order. Please note that this is only a list of possible solutions, we do not offer you any help with the software. Look on the linked project pages if you need help.

All listed solutions use the following table to provide a similar comparability:

@contributors: Please copy&paste this table for new services. If you can not provide a certain information fill in "(not known)", thank you!

Audio / video conferencing


Jitsi / Jitsi Meet

GNU Jami

GNU Jami is a Free Software tool for videoconferencing and instant messaging comparable to Skype. The Jami project develops software for video conferencing that work cross-platform. The client also offers screensharing.


Nextcloud Talk

Chat / Instant Messaging / Collaboration Messaging



Matrix / Riot


Remote & Collaborative Office Software


Etherpad Lite


Nextcloud Files

(Data) Cloud solutions

Nextcloud Hub

Free/Libre/OpenSource Software service providers


Chatons is a collective of independent, transparent, open, neutral and ethical hosters providing FLOSS-based online services (mainly in France and French).


Librehosters is a network of cooperation and solidarity that uses free software to encourage decentralisation through federation and distributed platforms.

Other services


File sharing

Further lists and reading

Many other organisations are publishing lists and their experiences with using Free Software solutions for remote working. Here is an unordered list of articles:

Activities/FreeSoftware4RemoteWorking (last edited 2020-04-16 21:07:17 by federico.leva)