Now that work-from-home arrangements are more of a necessity than an option, businesses must adapt quickly to overcome the associated challenges. Foremost among them is remote collaboration.
Having teams work together cohesively is difficult enough. When they’re situated far apart, additional complications enter the mix. What does this mean for the performance of your employees? Statistics suggest that remote working is actually capable of enhancing operational efficiency.
For instance, the International Workplace Group reported that 85% of managers observed an increase in productivity among remote teams, namely due to the added flexibility of telecommuting.
If you want to see the same change in your own company, it’s vital that you equip off-site staff with the right tools. Technologies that facilitate effective collaboration lay the foundation for successful remote teamwork. Read on to learn about 5 key resources and their benefits.
Traditional exchanges around the office have been replaced by real-time chat and instant messaging software.
These services enable swift and focused communication, making it easy for remote workers to discuss and share strategies. If someone wants to propose an idea about the current project, for example, they can simply hop onto the group chat and immediately receive feedback from the rest of the team.
Compared to email, instant messaging is far more convenient and efficient. Today’s chat services are also loaded with useful features that further enhance the experience. This includes:
- Screen casting for rapid sharing and decision-making
- Archiving to provide an in-depth overview of how projects developed
- Added functionality through integration with services like Dropbox and Google Docs
There are many great business-focused instant messaging tools available today. Popular options include Slack, Chatwork, and Microsoft Teams. Your employees may prefer Flowdock, Google Hangouts, or Amazon Workplace depending on their needs and the platforms already in use.
While certainly effective for quick communication, instant messaging tends to fall short when it comes to emulating the face-to-face interactions that many thrive on. Employees who value in-person encounters may start to feel isolated and alienated from their team when transitioning to remote work.
This is where video calling and conferencing tools shine. Software such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet can improve remote collaboration, teamwork and relationship building by dramatically enhancing the ‘personal touch’ aspect of digital communication. There’s no better way to brainstorm and participate in live conversations from separate locations.
Video calls are also ideal for distanced performance reviews and other scenarios where face-to-face conversations are important. What’s more is that these tools can eliminate the need to travel to meetings as they support multiple participants. In addition to those we already mentioned, the following services are suitable for remote teams:
- Microsoft Teams
It’s crucial that team members are able to stay on top of group projects and receive updates as they occur, especially when working in different locations and time zones. Task management tools accomplish this by enabling instant sharing to keep everyone informed on the status of current and upcoming activities.
These types of software can help remote workers:
- Accept jobs and track contributions from other workers
- Notify team members about completed assignments and maintain a steady workflow
- Store and organise resources such as documents and spreadsheets
- Generate detailed performance reports through built-in analytics
- Ensure that all workers have access to the latest version of any shared files
Remote teams can choose from a variety of capable project management tools that are geared towards their unique working arrangements. Leading options include Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and Microsoft Projects. Jira and Monday.com are also popular among off-site workers.
Printed documentation is increasingly rare in modern office environments. The costly and cumbersome nature of paperwork is only amplified when distance is a factor. Instead, remote collaboration teams make use of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that are available online for convenient access on any device.
Software suites such as Microsoft 365 and the Google Workspace equivalent offer real-time file editing and feedback, which vastly improves efficiency and reduces the likelihood of errors or miscommunications that commonly occur when documents are exchanged via email.
These benefits are especially valuable when dealing with crucial files and time-sensitive projects. Relevant team members can effortlessly access, edit and leave comments via desktop or mobile regardless of their location. File sharing services are typically built on cloud technologies.
Along with file-sharing tools, many of the project management and remote collaboration technologies that we discussed are cloud-based. This extends to online storage services as well. Cloud storage enables fast and convenient access to files and resources over the internet from anywhere in the world.
Some of the platforms that businesses gravitate towards in this category include Amazon Web Services, Dropbox, JustCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, and OpenDrive. These tools enhance remote collaboration by:
- Instantly updating files to their latest version
- Providing access to documents and media on multiple devices
- Facilitating real-time editing of files
- Enabling back-ups and recovery to prevent data loss
- Tracking changes with version history
Today’s cloud storage solutions are highly affordable, allowing even the smallest businesses to leverage their potential. Their capacity to protect against data loss or corruption alone can lead to a considerable return on investment.
In addition to providing the right tools, remote team managers can improve collaboration by following a few best practices. This includes clearly defining roles and responsibilities to prevent confusion. It also helps to encourage clear and open communication so that misunderstandings are avoided, and concerns are brought up when necessary.
Asking employees for suggestions on their preferred communication channels and methods can make them more comfortable. Remember to allocate time for team-building activities. From multiplayer games to virtual show-and-tells to casual coffee sessions, there are many ways to make it happen in spite of distance challenges.
Finally, consider the benefits of partnering with an IT support provider. Work from home IT Support services such as those we offer at WFH IT Support include onboarding remote staff, securing off-site hardware, mitigating cybersecurity risks, and much more.
Feel free to get in touch with us for a no obligation cant if you’d like to find out what Remote IT Support can do for your business.