Remote work certainly has its perks, but for many of us it also has its challenges. In this blog series, we’ll focus on the home office and hybrid work environment, discussing ways to adapt, and conquer—both as an employer and an employee. This is post 17 of the series. You can follow the rest of the series and read our past posts here.
With a global shift to remote working and hybrid work models, employers are realizing that it’s not as simple as sending your staff home with a laptop. While there is a financial incentive to embrace remote work, employers must recognize the one area that will require a significant long-term investment: your technology.
While the tech investment for every company will look different, here are the four key components to remote working technology that will keep your dispersed workforce connected:
To start, employers must equip employees with everything they need to be successful. This includes functional laptops or tablets, headsets, and perhaps even printers. Additionally, extra desktop monitors can help employee productivity for those who often work with multiple screens.
This may be one of the largest investments employers have to make. However, it should be noted that these technology investments are a one-time cost. Repairs and replacements moving forward will be minimal.
Not only does this investment enable your staff to work productively, but your employees will see and appreciate your investment in them. When you give employees the tools to do good work, they will be more likely to be successful.
Network access + security
Another substantial investment employers must make for a successful remote workforce is in their IT department. Not only must you invest in network access and security, but you must invest in IT talent that can navigate and troubleshoot the challenges of shifting employees to remote working.
This includes setting up VPN (Virtual Private Network) access for each staff member, along with increased network bandwidth to accommodate the number of employees accessing your network remotely. Or, you may consider shifting to a cloud-based model that is more friendly to remote environments. However, you may need to overcome additional security hurdles to do so.
While your IT department is always a critical asset for your business, in a remote working environment, you will rely heavily on these employees to keep everything running smoothly. As a result, it will be more critical than ever that your tech investment starts with the people you hire.
An office environment facilitates more communication, and in shifting to remote working, this can be one of the biggest challenges for businesses. Because communication is a key foundation to running a successful company, it is critical that employers invest in and facilitate communication channels. This includes a few different technology tools:
- Instant Messenger: Tools like Slack or Gchat can greatly improve a team’s ability to communicate throughout the day. Not only can you organize group chat threads by project or team, but you can also have fun. When your employees can share funny memes or recipes, they’ll still get some of the camaraderie they may be missing at home.
- Video Conferencing: Platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts provide a necessary form of communication in actually seeing your colleagues during a meeting. While phone calls may suffice, employers will find that video conferencing can be more engaging. In addition to simply seeing the faces of colleagues, team members can also read nonverbal cues, which can enhance the communication of the team.
In addition to these tools being critical to the success of a remote working operation, there are several solutions that are either free, or very low cost. This is an investment in the success and happiness of your employees that is worth making.
Project management tools
When employees are managing remote teams, remote working technology to accurately track productivity and progress is critical. Depending on the needs of each individual team, this solution may look different. However, there are several solutions available that can meet the needs of any team:
- Task Management: For many teams, having a simple calendar and the ability to assign tasks to different team members can improve productivity and create more accountability. With tools like Asana or Trello teams can assign tasks, track progress, and see what others are working on. The best part about these tools is that they often have a free version, and even paid subscriptions are usually inexpensive.
- Project Management: For more robust project management, tools like JIRA or Wrike can be implemented. While these tools may cost more, the capabilities to organize and manage multiple project threads (and track the progress of multiple projects) will significantly enhance productivity.
Not only does this remote working technology help employees track complex projects, but they also help employers see what their team is working on. This can increase productivity and accountability across the board, while also adding significant transparency to your operations.