Organizations are facing unique challenges this year. The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus has disrupted business operations globally. There is a growing trend towards remote work. 44% of U.S. employees started working from home five days or more per week after the onset of the pandemic.
Remote working comes with the benefits of global talent acquisition, lower overhead costs, and a broader pool of human capital. However, it has its share of downsides too. Isolation, burnout, and inability to maintain work-home balance can all weigh heavily on those who work remotely.
If these issues are not properly addressed, it can lead to reduced productivity, decreased work satisfaction, and poor-quality work.
But, businesses can overcome these challenges through technology.
How Businesses Can Leverage Technology to Embrace Remote Working
Technological advances empower businesses to help their workforce effectively embrace and adapt to remote work. Here’s how businesses can help employees thrive in a remote position.
1. Work on Team Building and Collaboration
The success of any business depends upon the ability of its team to work together seamlessly. This is where team building, collaboration, and communication comes in handy. They not only boost employee morale, but also accelerate productivity and performance.
With the help of technology, businesses can set up dedicated channels for formal and informal communication. Businesses can use the following ideas to promote healthy communication among employees:
- Start digital coffee or tea breaks for teams and a random group of employees
- Initiate interdepartmental and cross-departmental activity or game time
- Establish non-work-related chat systems and channels for casual conversations
Employees can collaborate with each other through tools such as Skype, Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts, and more. They enable conversations in real-time, just like face-to-face discussions at the office. They also empower individuals and teams to take charge, assume ownership, discuss productive thoughts and ideas, and come up with solutions to get the job done right.
Collaborative tools give employees an idea of what is happening in their department and the company. They help employees stay connected with each other and other teams. They further assist them in understanding how their role influences the objectives and goals of a business.
2. Incorporate Continuous Learning Programs
Training and development of employees are the keys to long-term success and growth of a business. Businesses need to show their employees that they appreciate them and want to see them continually improve and grow within their jobs and roles. Take a look at how businesses can implement training for remote employees.
i) Learning Management System (LMS)
An LMS is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. It helps deliver and manage all types of content, including video, courses, and documents.
LMS can improve organizational performance and increase employee satisfaction in the following ways:
- Recording Training: LMS records when the employees have taken a course. It also keeps a track of how well they have performed.
- Reminding about the Training: It informs a business when the training was undertaken by employees and when it needs to be repeated. Simply put, it helps a business keep its employee learning up-to-date.
- On-Demand Training: The e-learning courses powered by LMS are available for an organization’s employees 24/7.
- Continuous Availability of Content: LMS makes it easy for employees to go back over their courses to continually reinforce their learning.
ii) Remote Employee Training Programs
Businesses can also conduct virtual sessions, webinars, and digital conferences to engage and challenge remote employees. They can incorporate gamification with unique avatars to help employees engage, communicate, work, and learn together in a fun and an exciting way.
3. Manage Remote Team Performance
It can be difficult for businesses to track their remote teams’ performance. Business can incorporate remote performance management strategies to track their employees’ progress and accomplishments. Strategies for a remote team include the following aspects:
- Daily and weekly touchpoints
- Weekly or monthly feedback on the employee’s performance
- Monthly performance reviews
- Weekly and monthly teleconferences
4. Keep Expectations Clear
Remote work set up is often less structured. However, employees can deliver great results if businesses convey expectations clearly. These expectations can be set at the time of onboarding new employees. Clear lines of accountability should be set from the beginning of the working relationship. Here’s how businesses can do it.
- Inform employees about the tasks to be delivered and convey deadlines, if any
- Share monthly and quarterly goals with employees
- Establish a support structure for resolving queries and enabling collaboration and problem-solving
- Set weekly work deliverables for employees
- Provide employees with the ability to connect easily with superiors in the hierarchy
- Equip employees with email IDs, Skype account logins, phone numbers, and access to the company messaging system to enable communication and collaboration
5. Invest in a VPN
Businesses with a remote workforce should use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). They allow a secure way for employees to log into the network through protocols, like Remote Desktop Control (RDP), without them being open to the public.
VPNs are secure Web connections that protect information sent between employees and businesses. They also encrypt data and prevent cyber threats such as malware, ransomware, phishing, and SQL injection. VPNs plug the remote employee’s device directly into the company’s internal network. They create encrypted tunnels between an employee’s computer or mobile device and a server connected to the internet.
All an employee needs to do is turn the VPN on to safeguard the data being transmitted between them and the server.
Organizations can take the help of local managed services provider to set up their VPN. For instance, businesses in Washington DC can leverage IT support services in Washington DC and set up their VPNs easily.
The role of technology in everyday life is massive. It can work as a uniting force in a business where employees can gather, talk, plan, and feel like a part of the company’s operations irrespective of their location. From VPNs to collaborative tools, technology can help businesses make a seamless transition from office to a remote work environment.
By following the tips mentioned above, you can gain a competitive advantage over other businesses. All you need to do is leverage technology to enable unhindered communication, collaboration, and leadership.