With the global outbreak of COVID-19, working remotely has spiked. But according to the Federal Reserve, the amount of people working remotely had already tripled in the last 15 years before this pandemic hit.
Once seen as too much of a distraction, remote work was rare and usually only offered to certain workers in specific or necessary situations. But the advancements we’ve seen in teleconferencing technology have allowed businesses to thrive remotely and prove that workers can still be just as productive, if not more, working remotely versus in an office.
If you’re a company that wants to transition into a remote environment or have found yourself forced into working remotely because of the current crisis, you probably have questions and concerns about how to make things run smoothly.
Transitioning Your Business to Work From Home
If your team is accustomed to office life, implementing external IT resources like Mindcore during the transition is indispensable. Sensitivity to your team’s needs is also key. It’s natural for colleagues to experience frustration as they adjust to new ways of working. This is especially true if the need for remote work came about unexpectedly, as many businesses saw during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other businesses have operated as entirely remote teams for years, and it’s only getting more common. Luckily, IT offers solutions to make these changes easier for everyone, individually and company wide.
Accessible and intuitive communication is crucial for anyone working remotely, especially during the transition. For example, remote workers often miss casual conversations in hallways and elevators, so why not create a virtual water cooler? Dedicated spaces for letting off steam and having fun make work more pleasant and boost morale. Group messaging software like Teams, Slack and Skype make it easy for coworkers to have regular chats throughout the day, while remaining robust communication tools for getting the job done. Mindcore also provides excellent services to streamline communication, such as Sharefile and Unified Communications (UC).
Work From Home Problems and Their Solutions
How Do We Know Our Employees Are Actually Working?
Project management tools such as Trello is an easy and free way to manage and oversee your team’s projects and progress online and/or through the app on your phone. Trello utilizes boards, lists, and cards that help you organize and prioritize work for yourself, as well as for members of your team. This shared information allows you to leave comments, attachments, and even due dates for specific tasks. Therefore, you’re able to see how much work has been done and when projects have been completed.
How Do We Communicate with Co-Workers Without Constantly Sending E-Mails?
Slack is an instant messaging platform that can easily be used as your virtual office chat room. Slack allows you to create channels that can be broken up into topics, teams, projects, and more. Team members can then join those channels to discuss those specifics, which helps from derailing the conversation or having the main point lost throughout email threads. You can also see when your co-workers are on Slack and can direct message them for that daily banter you would experience in an office setting.
Competitors to Slack include Google Hangouts, Discord, Chanty, and many more.
How Do We Conduct Meetings?
Zoom is a service that provides video conferencing that’s easy to use and accessible anywhere, and on any device. It offers HD video and audio to your meetings, and allows up to 1,000 video participants and 49 videos on screen. Zoom helps by still giving these meetings a collaborative feel by allowing participants to share their screens and co-annotate.
If your company is remote and you have employees working in different time zones, you have the ability to record your meetings, which allows people to watch it at separate times. Zoom also provides transcripts from your recorded meetings to help you follow along with what was discussed. You can also give yourself and your employees reminders for these meetings, as Zoom syncs with calendars used in Outlook, Gmail, or iCal.
Zoom can also be a useful tool in conducting one-on-one meetings to further discuss what your employees are working on.
While Zoom is the most popular tool currently being used for video conferencing, it has also had its share of security issues recently. Mindcore’s Matt Rosenthal will be diving into Zoom and Zoom alternatives in an upcoming piece.
What’s the Easiest Way to Get Signed Documents?
You might work in an industry that requires you to regularly get customer signatures, and even if you don’t, you’re still bound to come across documents that will need to be signed off on by your employees. Using an online tool like HelloSign is an easy and fast way to get eSignatures. The site allows you to electronically request and add legally-valid signatures to any kind of document like new hire agreements, HR policies, or non-disclosure agreements. It also saves the expense of possibly having to provide at-home printers for your employees.
Is There One Place I Can “Get It All?” (Video Chats, Messaging, File Storage/Sharing, Etc.)
If your organization is already licensed for Microsoft Office 365, then you already have free access to one of the fastest-growing apps from Microsoft, Microsoft Teams. Teams allows you to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place, similar to the services listed above, but in one central hub. In a March 2020 internal survey conducted by Centric Consulting, they found that out of their over 950 employees, 75 percent said Teams improved their collaboration, 87 percent said they used Teams daily, and 63 percent found themselves to be more productive using it.
An analysis done by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, has shown the growth in people working remotely from home. In the U.S., remote work grew 7.9% from 2016 to 2017. In the last five years, it grew 44%, and over the previous ten years it increased by 91%. Today, 4.7 million people in the U.S. (3.4% of the population) are working remotely. For some companies, COVID-19 has forced them to work remotely, but this trial period for many could sway businesses to continue working this way even after the pandemic has subsided.
Mindcore CEO Matt Rosenthal will soon be discussing the future of the workspace and how the cloud is officially ready to take over.
Working from Home Needs a Strong Support System – We Can Help You Build that Foundation
When coworkers can’t be in the same physical space, it’s even more necessary for everyone to feel that their team has their back. Foster an environment in which everyone knows they’re free to express themselves and voice their concerns. Sensitivity and mindfulness are essential. Encourage you to take your time during meetings to ensure everyone can keep up. Let your coworkers know they’re welcome to ask you for assistance, and don’t be afraid to go to your teammates for support either.
This is particularly important to us here at Mindcore, because teamwork and communication is fundamental to our company’s culture. It’s a huge part of what makes us so effective that over 500 top companies around New York and New Jersey trust us with their IT needs. We don’t hesitate to ask each other questions, or for help when we need it.