(NewsUSA) – You don’t have to be a tech geek to work smarter in and out of the office; there are some straightforward, free software programs that will help you connect with colleagues for conversation and collaboration.

Let technology simplify your work life with these free software programs. Each offers the ability to get work done on your own time and from anywhere.

* Skype. Sign up for a free Skype account, then send instant messages or make calls from your computer. It helps if you have a microphone and video camera connected to your computer. Try it out at www.skype.com.

* join.me. This program lets you share your desktop. Once you sign up for the free account, you can send up to 250 colleagues to http://join.me. After they enter the nine-digit code that you provide, they can see your desktop and files. This is great for meeting, training and group editing.

* Open Office. Build documents, spreadsheets and presentations without the expense or megabit-girth of Microsoft Office. Download Open Office onto your computer, and use the free suite of open-source software as if it were Office. It can save and open Office files, so no one will know the difference. More details are at http://openoffice.org.

* Google Docs. Google Docs allows you to host documents for free, so everyone can have a look. Go to http://docs.google.com to download your file, then share it as a link or send an e-mail to collaborators. You can change the settings to allow users to edit the document (you can track changes) or limit them to viewing only. You do not need to have Gmail, though you will need to create a free Google account.

* Tungle.me. Among Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar and iCal, you might have trouble sorting through your date book. Tungle.me lets you sync these calendars and provides a place where people can schedule time with you — without your involvement. Go to http://tungle.me for more information.