In the midst of a global pandemic, we can at least find solace in technology. From our iPads to our tablets and of course, our mobile phones, these devices connect us to the people and systems that make businesses tick. Digital tools enable a stability and consistency that could never be assured in an analogue world.
With the rapid spread of COVID-19, education institutes across the UK and the world have been ordered to close, while businesses have been urged to implement remote working structures anywhere they can. Experts believe the outbreak has the potential to fundamentally change the way we live, learn and work. While companies have been forced to send their entire workforce home, employees are beginning to question why they ever needed an office to start with.
If you’re skeptical of this new working model or your workplace is in a state of flux following the coronavirus upheaval, here are 6 ways technology can empower remote working teams:
1. Flexible storage and cloud access
Cloud-based networks are here to stay and, fact is, your remote workforce can’t survive without it. A major benefit of cloud technology in business terms is its scalability and flexibility, allowing organisations to scale up and down in line with their specific storage needs. It also allows for speedy adjustments according to variations, supporting growth and productivity without the need to purchase a complete software package.
The fact there’s no restriction on devices or location is another huge perk to the cloud, enabling workers to complete tasks in or outside of the workplace. It allows employees to share important documents alongside other professional files, as well as sufficiently supporting collaboration – internal and external. On top of this, the sync function means workers can seamlessly switch between devices, supporting productivity for workers on-the-go.
All this doesn’t even touch on the fact that cloud solutions are cost-effective, significantly reducing outgoings on business IT – including hardware, software and infrastructure.
2. Audio and video conferencing capabilities
Remote working knows no borders, and with audio and visual conferencing tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and join.me revolutionising the traditional business meeting, effective communication is no longer defined by physical geography.
Choosing to audio or video conference will not only save you money on time and travel, it will also optimise conference attendance and give your business a competitive edge.
3. Instant messaging
Email is not the best way to communicate when you need a fast response. Luckily, professional tools such as Slack, Twist and Google Hangouts Chat provide direct messaging features that mean content can be sent and received in real-time, so there’s no excuse for your sluggish colleague taking 24 hours or longer to respond!
4. Time tracking tools
Time-tracking apps are a blessing when it comes to working from home. For businesses keen to adopt a company-wide app for clocking in and out, it’s important to stress that it’s not about ‘checking up’ on employees, but rather about fostering a sense of mutual accountability and tracking progress on specific projects.
As with any technology, features on these apps vary from company to company, but most allow managers to pin point exactly where team members are spending their time, as well as how productive their time management actually is. Their ability to help management identify potential weak points and decide where resources would be best placed truly is invaluable.
5. Boosting productivity
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According to research on the evolution of mobile enterprise adoption and trends, custom apps are beneficial to both companies and their employees, with 30% of businesses reporting that custom apps have improved their business processes and 24% reporting that they help improve individual staff productivity. A study by Airtasker, which gleaned insights from 500 remote working candidates, found that virtual employees work, on average, 1.4 days more than their office-based peers. What’s not to like about that?!
6. Better work/life balance = a happier workforce
Though it’s subjective (there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to working, after all), many believe remote working means employees have far fewer distractions to navigate, on top of enjoying flexible working hours – giving them more time to complete important life admin – and wasting less time on commuting and getting ready for work.
The aforementioned research by Airtasker also found that remote working generally leads to greater levels of exercise throughout the week, waste less time generally and take fewer sick days than in-house employees. Research from Owl Labs has also revealed that 83% of workers believe the ability to work from home would make them happier, while 80% think this working structure would alleviate feelings of stress.
It goes without saying that all these things would have lasting benefits for both your business and employees.
Like it or not, the global workforce has been mobilised, and it’s down to you and your team to ensure the company can reach its full potential. The right technology can eliminate disruption and help to maintain ‘business as usual’ – but you must make the necessary changes now or risk getting left behind later on.
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