In light of the recent blizzard Winter Storm Jonas, many of us are realizing the power of effectively working from home. For many small business owners, the concept of remote work capabilities simply seems to far-fetched. The solution to keeping your business opened during these times is much easier than you think. In this blog post, we will highlight the various technologies needed to support a remote workforce.
What’s Needed to Support Remote Employees?
This one may seem like common sense, but the first thing you need to make sure your employees have before you implement an work from home policy is a reliable method of completing their work, i.e. a computer. The devices your employees work on while outside of the office should be company controlled. Having central control over these devices ensures that proper software is installed, antivirus and security software programs are all patched, and company information can be retained in the event that something happens to the physical machine, such as theft or damage.
Stable Internet Connection
One of the big concerns with remote employees is reliable Internet availability. Many residential Internet connections have much smaller bandwidth than commercial options. For effective employees who are working remotely, stable Internet access is an absolute requirement. Make sure your internal systems can handle the bandwidth increases and that accessing them from multiple sources won’t strain the system to much and render it essentially ineffective.
Storing files in the cloud allows for important documents to be accessed from anywhere. This alleviates the need to configure remote access to internal servers, as cloud-based file sharing solutions come ready to go. Not only can all documents be accessed from outside of the office itself, but you also allow for version tracking which can help employees keep track of who is working on what document. While there are countless cloud solutions that you can choose from, it is critical that you invest in one that is built for businesses, not individual consumers (for more information about this, check out our blog post Why You Need Business-Grade File Sharing).
Technology programs focused on allowing team, department, and group collaboration allow for team productivity to be able to operate on a semi-normal method. When it comes to choosing a collaboration system for your remote team, there are no shortage of options. Many have taken the approach of almost a social media platform that allows different internal users to be able to communicate with one another, such as Yammer, Chatter, and Jive. Other popular options include Slack or Hackpad, among many others. Screen sharing solutions such as join.me, Screenhero, or ScreenLeap help to show screens when something needs to be viewed by more than one individual.
When it comes to choosing the collaboration technology system for your business, we strongly recommend getting a quality solution and not automatically opting for the cheapest selection. However, if you are in a pinch and find your workforce at home in the middle of a blizzard, Skype and Google Hangouts can be used as well. Just watch out for your security settings.
Project Management Tools or Processes
Keeping track of progress becomes much trickier for managers when they can not simply walk over to an employees desk and ask them what they have been working on. There are several project management tools out there that can alleviate these difficulties. Trello is one example of a tool that allows for projects to be tracked in real time and provides a drag and drop user interface.
iDoneThis is also a great tool for keeping up with what your different team members are working on.
Just like collaboration tools above, there are so many project management tools out there that choosing the right one for your needs can often feel overwhelming. Take your time, and dont feel like you will become stuck with your first choice. Most of these solutions offer free trials, so you can give them a shot before you commit to one. And even after the decision has been made, if you feel like you are not getting as much out of it as you could be, try another solution until one fits.
Phone Line with Voicemail
It may not seem like having a phone line when away from the office is essential to ensuring continuous business operations. VoIP technology can enhance remote worker productivity by allowing workers to control how, when, and where calls are received. Through providing this flexibility, if your employees wish to have their work phone calls forwarded to their cell phone they are free to do so without having to give up central control over the communication systems.
Providing your small business employees with the tools they need to be able to work from home is much easier than you may think. Check out these tools and do some research on your own so that your business won’t have to shut down in the event of a disaster.