In modern business, having staff that work remotely can be great for saving costs and improving morale. Here’s the software and tech you need, in order to get with the times.
Technology will eventually make human life obsolete. But before we welcome our technological overlords, you can use it for flexible working, to make your business more profitable and efficient. We’re talking everything from web and video conference calling, to online document sharing services and instant messaging.
Where it really makes a difference is with small firms and start-ups. They can reduce their overheads by equipping employees with the software and tech they need to work remotely, without compromising on efficiency, quality of service, or professional image.
But is it really worth it? If it is, how should you be using technology to get all of the above before it turns on you, your business, and the rest of mankind in the near future?
Why it’s worth it
Using technology that allows staff to work away from the office can improve the daily operations of the business and help boost overall job satisfaction. In fact, we know that when the UK arm of headset manufacturer Plantronics switched to a flexible work environment, it upped efficiency and productivity, while employee satisfaction rose from 61% to 85% in six months.
Plus, by all accounts the right remote working software can make meetings more efficient. Virtual meetings over video and web conferencing platforms tend to be shorter. It’s easier to stick to an agenda because you’re not being side-tracked by passing the biscuits, and idle chit chat seems to be kept to a minimum.
How it actually works
Let’s say you’ve got a team of freelancers working all over the country that you need to work as a cohesive unit. Give them the ability to communicate via video conferencing, share their screens to show documents, use file transfer sites to share imagery and presentations, as well as instant messaging to keep in touch when email is too clunky.
Video conference calling
Exactly what it sounds like, this is like a conference call, but with video. It’s great for holding meetings when everyone is working miles apart and for dialling remote folk into in-person meetings in the office. You can even give presentations to clients and colleagues with video conferencing, which, if nothing else, will save you money on travel and hospitality costs.
Obviously for this you will need a webcam. Most webcams come built into laptops nowadays, so shouldn’t be too much extra expense.
So, what about the actual software? Well, we’re just going to throw this out there: but we’re pretty good at this video conferencing lark, and our platform allows up to 15 participants at once. Just saying.
- Screen sharing
Even if you’ve been the organised one and sent round all the documents, graphs and spreadsheets you’re going to reference during a remote meeting, we can guarantee someone won’t have downloaded all of them.
But, using a screen sharing platform means all participants can simultaneously see those files on their screens without doing anything at all. So everyone, even the disorganised ones, end up on the same page – quite literally.
Not to blow our own horn (again), but our Web Conferencing platform lets you do exactly that. The host just needs to download the right tool and everyone else can all view via their web browsers, like Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari.
- Online document sharing
Teams that work remotely will need some way of accessing key documents and other files that are central to the work they’re doing. Without it, you run the risk of three differing versions of the same presentation, or even seven kinds of the same spreadsheet, and no one knowing what exactly is going on. It helps reduce stress both during and after projects.
There are lots of web-based file sharing solutions. Popular ones, depending on the amount of money you can spare and the demands of your company, are Google Drive, Dropbox and Box. Some options are very low cost, right up to more sophisticated options that allow easy file access for multiple users, with very high levels of security built in, all of them either completely or not quite on the cloud.
- Instant messaging
Kind of feel like we’re telling you that the sky is blue on this one. Even if you don’t use instant messaging today (although it’s exactly what Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are) chances are you’ve been in a chat room, or used MSN Messenger at some point in your life.
Using it as part of work is relatively novel, though. It’s great for remote teams who need to ask questions and get answers quickly, without going through the comparatively more laborious process of emailing. There are about one billion options out there, but Slack, SparkChat and HipChat are slick, modern, and angled toward business use.
As you can see, before the reign of our robot overlords is upon us, you can use technology to your business’s advantage. We’re pretty sure it should make everyone’s lives a bit easier, make your company a better place to work, and save a bit of money too.