Remote work has ramped up in many industries as companies encourage their teams to work from home and prevent potential spread of the virus. However, even before the pandemic, remote work was rising in popularity. In fact, a recent survey from Buffer of over 3,500 remote workers found that 98% “want to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.”
Although remote work was quickly implemented out of necessity for many companies, this style of work certainly won’t be short lived. Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer at Accenture, told the New York Times in June that the pandemic has “accelerated three years of digital cultural adaptation to three months.” and anticipates virtual accommodations for remote workers to increase, even after the pandemic eases.
With that said, when you’re managing a remote team (whether temporarily, for the foreseeable future, or permanently), the technologies you use can either be a burden or a remedy. If your team already uses a suite of digital tools, you may still need to seek out new software that can streamline your new remote work processes.
Here are five technologies that can make the new world of remote work more manageable, efficient, and enjoyable:
Time Tracking Software
With employees working virtually from anywhere in your city, state, country, or even the globe, keeping tabs on all of a team’s working hours can quickly become a difficult and disorganized task. However, this data and information is critical not only for team communication, but also in business processes such as payroll and resource planning.
While employees work remotely, incorporating time tracking software into your reporting tools can provide a major convenience. Using this type of tool makes it simple for employees to record their daily working hours from anywhere, and it’s equally simple for HR and accountants to have much-needed time data on hand. In addition, using a digitized system for time tracking significantly reduces paperwork and manual means of timekeeping, like hardcopy records or messy spreadsheets.
Employee Recognition Tools
One obstacle that many remote teams encounter is employee engagement. A 2017 article from the Harvard Business Review found that remote employees are more likely to feel left out or isolated than their onsite peers. In addition, when employees work remotely most or all of the time, they can find it hard to mesh with the company culture, which can prove to be detrimental to engagement and morale.
A great way to avoid these problems is by utilizing a digital employee recognition tool, which can provide your employees with experiential-based recognition and incentives when they perform exceptionally well, reach a major milestone, or demonstrate some type of behavior worth recognizing. Recognizing the accomplishments of your employees when working remotely can make a major difference in ensuring that they feel engaged with their work.
Digital Communication Platforms
Another significant challenge that can arise from working remotely is communication, whether it be with a boss, manager, or other team members. To combat this problem, be sure to utilize one of the many communication platforms that are available today.
These conversational tools allow employees to communicate simply and cross-functionally, regardless of location. Not to mention, chat tools can be a fun way to boost employee morale, as they can use it to send updated information, celebrate occasions like work anniversaries or birthdays, share inside jokes and more.
Slack, one of the most popular options for communication platforms, stated that “Daily greetings and regular check-ins over shared communication channels are effective ways to acknowledge remote employees.”
Remote work brings with it a whole host of new cyber risks and threats. In fact, the FBI reports that since the start of the pandemic just a few months ago, reports of cyber crime have almost quadrupled.
When employees work remotely, they play a more active role in the company’s cybersecurity practices. For example, opting to use a personal computer rather than one that’s company issued, logging into a public WiFi network rather than a private one, or ignoring a software update rather than immediately conducting it all have unique implications when it comes to cybersecurity.
In order to best prevent a cyber breach or related consequence of improper cybersecurity management, it’s important to utilize at least one of the many cybersecurity solutions available today. One of the most effective methods for remote teams is to implement a software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) solution, which keeps devices secure whether they are at home or in the office. An SD-WAN solution will ensure that employees are protected from external threats, like malware and phishing attacks, and prevents sensitive data loss even when employees are working from home.
Project Management Tools
Though remote workers frequently work longer hours, they’re faced with a great deal of small distractions that can hinder a day’s productivity. Those who work from home are able to avoid co-workers dropping by their desk and other office occurrences, but they do have to endure around-the-home interruptions that can chew away at their most productive hours. In addition, with an entire team working remotely, it can become difficult to collaborate on tasks, especially when those tasks require input from multiple departments or disciplines.
Utilizing project management tools can help outline tasks that need to be accomplished day by day and ensure that remote workers can stay on track, even after facing a bout of distraction. When faced with a hefty workload, a project management tool can help remote teams work through tasks with agility and efficiency that may otherwise be hindered by employees working from disparate locations.
Transitioning to a remote team dynamic is certainly no easy task, and adding a global crisis to that process doesn’t make things any easier. While operating a business during this time, keep in mind that you will likely have to do some fine tuning as you go. Very few organizations were prepared to transition to a fully-remote business structure, so be sure to acknowledge this experience as a learning opportunity as you move forward. Be sure to use the technologies described above to your benefit during this time.
Improve Your Remote Team With Time Tracking
Track hours worked for your remote employees.