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Remote work has been in the news a great deal recently, with attention-grabbing headlines announcing how working from home is better for both employees and their bosses, saving money and promoting a better work-life balance. This is all well and good but doesn’t answer one key question: how you can make sure that your small business can achieve those lofty goals.
This is what we’ll seek to answer in today’s article. We’ll talk about the kind of technological solutions that will make the process of switching to a remote team smoother and that will make your work simpler and more rewarding. Without further ado, here’s how to empower your remote team with technology.
Cloud computing is all but a prerequisite for remote work as it makes sharing and working on files easy wherever you are. You can also easily collaborate on documents even when you’re not in the same room as the other person.
Cloud-based networks are especially great for small businesses because they’re easy and cheap to set up and are very easy to scale as your business grows. There’s no need to invest in expensive and bulky hardware, meaning that you can run a fully remote company with cloud solutions.
In order for your new remote work culture to work seamlessly, you have to carefully consider your communications – both internal and external – to make work seamless, minimise frustration between coworkers and to make sure your clients feel heard.
In the past, working from home would have meant sending heaps of emails that would go unanswered for days or picking up the phone hoping the person on the other end wouldn’t be busy with something important.
Now, instant communication between coworkers is easy with countless free or affordable chat services like Slack that allow people to communicate freely about projects they’re working on and provide a great digital alternative to the traditional watercooler chat.
A virtual chat is an indispensable resource for most remote workplaces, but it’s also important to set guidelines for its use: people should be allowed to turn off notifications outside work hours or when they need to focus on a task, and email should be used when it’s important to have a digital paper trail of your discussion.
When it comes to external communications, VoIP and video conferencing software make a remote team seem much more professional and makes meetings a breeze. Video conferencing means you can really feel like you’re in the same room with the other people in a way that’s not possible with just a voice call and allows you to easily share things on your screen with other participants.
Like cloud computing, VoIP – a cloud phone system – is ideal for a decentralised team that needs the ability to scale their phone system up and down easily and affordably. It relies on the internet rather than landlines to make calls, eliminating the need for desk phones with several lines for every employee.
A project management tool of some sort is key to better accountability and helps to avoid miscommunication about the work that you do. Tools like Asana and Monday.com let everyone on the team see the progress on work projects and allows managers to assign tasks and see how employees use their time.
It’s important to note here that the purpose of a project management tool shouldn’t be to endlessly check up on people to make sure they’re working not a minute less than their allocated 8 hours. Instead, it should be used to help everyone know what they’re supposed to be working on and when to expect updates from their colleagues.
A word should be said about providing your home-based employees with the hardware they need. Opting for a remote team does mean you can save a pretty penny on rental fees and office supplies, but this doesn’t mean you should expect your employees to provide themselves with all the hardware they need.
Opting for a BYOD policy and having people work on their own laptops may present many cybersecurity risks if not done right. Additionally, people may be disinclined to spend their own money on things such as headsets and an ergonomic home office setup that could make them much happier and more productive.
A “digital toolbox” of applications that support your remote team could be cobbled together from a variety of sources, but these won’t necessarily all work together seamlessly. However, if you choose the right productivity suite, you can get all the tools you need and they’ll have been designed to work together.
Office 365 offers just that. Its applications are well-known the world over and offer a comprehensive selection of tools for remote workers so that you don’t have to worry about shopping around for a whole bunch of applications that don’t integrate easily. Since Office 365’s tools are cloud-based, you can also work from anywhere with ease.
Collaboration is easy with tools like Microsoft Teams which allows you to complete a number of different tasks on the same screen while seamlessly sharing your progress with your colleagues. Video conferencing comes with AI-supported timestamping and transcribing in real-time, further supporting your team’s internal and external communication. Meanwhile, SharePoint and OneDrive allow you to securely store and access files in the cloud. Office 365 applications can also support your VoIP in many ways.
Having the right technology is crucial to working from home effectively and cultivating good company culture as a remote team. It can make the process of shifting to a work from home model much smoother, especially when you’re using well-loved, intuitive remote working technology like Office 365.
To learn more about how this productivity suite can help your remote team thrive, get in touch with us today.