Making the most out of a remote workforce
Making the most out of a remote workforce
The days of optionally working remotely are over, at least for now. With more and more of us “teleconferencing it in,” as it were—we’re learning the benefits and downsides of virtual work.
The trend was already accelerating. In 2017, Regus Canada found that over 50 percent of Canadian employees work from out of the office for half the week or more. The trend spiked upwards in the last decade thanks not just to new collaborative software tools but also due to increased and better connectivity.
As more companies switch to remote work, collaboration software and connectivity are essential to maintaining productivity. Companies that already have these tools in place are at an advantage, yes. But even they may find themselves struggling as needs change and requirements increase.
Getting the infrastructure right
Having more employees work away from the office means that enterprises need to ensure that they have the latest software and collaboration tools, as well as the infrastructure to handle the increase in demand.
In a Q&A with Harvard Business Review, professor Tsedal Neeley explains how companies can plan for an effective remote workforce. “Direct managers have to very quickly ensure that every employee has full access. Organizations need to ask: Do employees have the requisite technology? Who has a laptop? Will those with laptops be able to dial into their organizations easily? Will they have the software they need to work, make conference calls, etc. What about employees without laptops or mobile devices? How do you make sure they have access to the resources they need to do work?”
As the New York Times noted recently, internet connectivity is the number one tech issue at home. Reliable connectivity is essential for effective communication and collaboration, says Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insight. “To enable and support remote working at scale, businesses will have to have policies on how they support those employees who don’t have good connectivity.”
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are also necessary to provide secure access to sensitive data for those toiling away at home for the first time.
Collaboration software, social media tools and VR for remote work
While market intelligence firm IDC predicts that client devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and printers, will see an annual growth rate decline of nearly 25 percent, software sales could experience positive growth this year. These numbers are expected to be bolstered by rising software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscriptions, especially in the collaboration space as videoconferencing and cloud software will continue to be top investments during the pandemic.
Another obstacle businesses may encounter in setting up remote work is selecting the best option in platforms and software tools. Possibilities include video presentations, collaboration software, and enterprise-wide social media tools.
“Tools should be familiar, easy-to-use, and mobile-friendly,” says Julien Codorniou, vice-president of Workplace at Facebook. “With the widespread use of communication platforms, employees should be able to message, call, and video chat to meaningfully engage with their peers and company leaders.”
VR is adding a new wrinkle to remote work, especially when it comes to video conferencing and meetups. There are several startups in this area that bill themselves as a bridge between VR and video meeting options.
Software sales could experience positive growth this year, reinforced by rising SaaS subscriptions – especially in the collaboration space where videoconferencing and cloud software remain top investments during the pandemic.
Working at home here to stay?
At least some of the changes we are seeing today will be with us for some time. What seems like temporary work from home (WFH) arrangements may not be temporary. While many businesses have been teleworking for a long time, some that have recently made the switch have been finding ways to thrive. In the future, even more online collaborative processes may be developed. Virtual meetings may take place of real-world ones. And more and more, work will depend on reliable broadband connectivity.
Make sure you and your business are ahead of the adoption curve to ensure business continuity and growth in the long run.
Looking for tips on enterprise-grade teleworking tools? Look no further than Bell’s guide to unified communications.