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How Technology is Helping Workplaces Transition to a Remote Environment

For many of us, COVID-19 has altered not just our ability to see family and friends, but also our working lives. Non-essential businesses have taken the responsible approach and, where possible, sought out remote working solutions for their employees. While this may have initially been a necessity, more are starting to discover the benefits that can come from utilizing remote teams.  

Not only do remote businesses save costs on overheads such as office space, many companies have witnessed an increase in productivity due to the added flexibility that this approach allows. DeVry University Professor Jacqueline Saldana, DM, explains, “Flex-work options not only reduce job inequalities related to gender and age, but studies show that employees have higher work engagement and productivity, consistent motivation, lower absenteeism and better health.” 

It should certainly be acknowledged that those who have been able to quickly and successfully transition away from the centralized office have pulled off an impressive feat; there are various technological and logistical issues to undertake. But whether as a response to an emergency or as part of a more permanent solution, technology can make the process more efficient. We’re going to take a look at some of the key areas in which tech tools can make a difference. 

HR and Training

You may well have figured out how to fit remote practices into your business, but this can all be for nothing if your employees aren’t also fit for these methods. As the propensity for companies to adopt remote methods has increased over the past decade (those working from home once per week has grown 400% since 2010), so too has the development of training and HR products to support them.  

From a human resources systems perspective, it is imperative to make certain that your company’s HR stack is fit for remote purposes. Your current setup may have been built with very different intentions, so it’s worth reviewing what software you can adjust and where you need to reinvest. You may now need employee time monitoring software such as Hubstaff now that they don’t have a physical presence, or performance recognition platforms such as Bonusly in order to make certain stellar service is rewarded. 

When it comes to onboarding, services such as BambooHR and Workday can be useful in organizing the signing of contracts and documentation and monitoring employees’ progress throughout the process. The eLearning industry also offers solutions for remote training. Udemy and Hickory are both built with business training in mind, with modules designed to allow employees to take modules to fit around their work duties, and follow-up assessments and reviews to ensure retention.  

Collaborative Tools

One of the positive aspects of operating in physical office spaces is that they are well-suited for collaboration. Everybody is in the same space, there’s the opportunity for interpersonal rapport, and it can be the perfect environment for innovation to blossom. So how can we replicate this in remote teams?  

One of the most important aspects of promoting collaboration is providing your employees with the right tools. When sourcing remote software, you need to make certain that it is optimized to make distant collaboration practical, simple, and accessible. Google G Suite is one of the most popular solutions in this area, providing the capability for cloud file sharing, community document creation and editing, and chat options. It’s worth remembering, though, that adopting these types of collaborative software is not just suitable for the current crisis, but can help make your business more agile and adaptable for the future. 

However, just providing access tools isn’t always enough. The choice of tools needs to be compatible with your team’s practices, and their preferred way to engage with software. Communication tools such as Slack can provide a familiar chatroom-style instant messaging feature, which can encourage teams to keep their rapport and relationships strong, with the ability to add channels that aren’t work-related, in order to give space for levity. 

Leadership Support

In order for remote teams to thrive, there also needs to be a focus on adapting leadership approaches to suit the challenges of this environment. The techniques managers use in physical spaces may not be useful — or indeed possible — when leading teams across a variety of locations. Technology can help support management in helping their teams to succeed in these uncertain times.  

Project management software is a key tool in this area, providing clarity in the planning and execution of tasks in a way that is suited to the whole team. Services such as Trello and Asana are user-friendly, allowing managers to assign team members to tasks using cards, and each member of the team can track both individual and overall progress of projects. These platforms also provide calendar options and are compatible with cloud file-sharing services for easy access to important assets. 

Aside from the strict day-to-day task management aspects, it’s also important for leaders to keep their employees engaged and give them the tools they need to succeed when working remotely. Meeting with team members, getting to know them better, and soliciting their feedback on projects are useful ways to do this, remote working technology can help. Certainly, instant messaging and email can be used here, but also utilize Skype or Zoom to regularly connect with them face-to-face. Commit to individual calls, but also group conference sessions in which everybody can see one another and contribute effectively.

Conclusion 

Times of crisis can also be moments of possibility. Many businesses are starting to embrace remote working practices, and are starting to see the benefits. Utilizing the right HR tech, collaboration tools, and management services can help keep your business agile in the face of the unexpected.

Noah Rue

Noah Rue

Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.

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