2020 and 2021 have been years to forget for many people. When the Covid-19 pandemic swept the world in the early part of 2020, it caused chaos just about everywhere. Businesses were forced to close, shops included, and only those in what was considered essential roles were permitted to travel to their place of work. Where possible, staff were forced to work remotely from home.
Many smaller businesses found it difficult to stay afloat. Yet, a collective effort by their staff teams to pull together and use available technology and software solutions meant that things were not as bad as they could have been. Technology – in particular that used for communication purposes – became the savior of the day.
Fears of reduced productivity were largely unfounded, as people soon became comfortable with a home office space and got attuned to this odd working method. Most businesses reported productivity at the same level as when at the office, and some even saw an increase. We will look at the top five services and solutions that are needed for effective and efficient remote working. First, we want to closely look at the idea that remote working may be here for the foreseeable future.
Is Remote Working Here to Stay?
More than 80% of people working remotely said they were happy to remain that way in a recent survey. There are good reasons why this is the case. First, there’s no traveling involved. This is a bonus for not only the employee but for the environment. Then there’s the ability to work office hours and get more done. The social side may be missing, but there’s no reason a once-a-fortnight office meet-up cannot be arranged.
The negative side is that the homeowner will have increased energy bills – the opposite applies to the business – but reduced travel costs should easily offset that. The simple fact is that having many thousands of people traveling the same way into and out of towns and cities at the same time twice a day is inefficient and certainly not eco-friendly. The technology enables productive home working, so it is safe to say that for some employees, the remote option may become the permanent one.
Now let’s look at some technology solutions and software packages needed to make remote working as productive as possible.
The Top 5 Solutions for Productive Home Working
The following five solutions are among those that we believe are essential for a fully operating and efficient home remote office, so let’s get started.
Let’s say you want to consult with accounting clients over video, and you’re looking for software to make this happen. Video can be used for solo meetings – say a one-to-one with the boss or to catch up with others on your team – or for group sessions, perhaps a project meeting in which several people need to come together. Or it could be you run a business that uses one-to-one sessions, say tutoring or training. Zoom is an option, as is Skype, and the package we have linked to – missed.com – is a great tool that offers video chat features with other booking and business streamlining aids. All you require is a PC or laptop, a good broadband connection, and you’re ready to go.
Cloud-Based Booking and Appointment Tools
One area of technology that is important to the future of remote working is that of online booking and appointment systems. Let’s take the example of a life coach who gives face-to-face consultations. The client accesses a cloud-based calendar that shows all the sessions that the coach has available that week. They pick the one they want, and the coach is notified. It’s simple, quick, and effective and eliminates the need for a physical diary or booking system of any kind.
When working from home, one of the key problems is keeping in touch with others who may be part of the same team. You might need to contact team members to chat about certain developments – in which case the video link tool we mentioned above will be ideal – or simply send messages, perhaps including the latest developments as a document.
Email is a popular method, but many quick and simple-to-use messaging solutions can enable the mass messaging of several people at one time. These are great for home workers and can be used with a computer or a smartphone, so it’s worth checking them out for recommendations.
Time and Work Trackers
For managers, investing in a time and work tracking tool is essential. This allows you to see when your team is online and working as the most sophisticated track keystrokes. This may seem as if you are ‘spying’ on your team, but in fact, the most obvious reason for using these trackers is to ensure the employee is paid for the hours they work. On this point, it is strongly recommended that employees working from home are all required to work the same hours so that everyone is contactable when needed.
Software tools that allow you to produce productivity analysis reports are important and useful for the employer and the employee. This information can help remote workers plan their time better and achieve more by seeing where the time is being wasted. Usually, this is due to interruptions from others in the home, which can be remedied with basic ground rules laid down.
The above are five systems and solutions that need to be implemented in a remote home office is to be as efficient as the real thing. With more people than ever before working from home, the market for solutions such as the above is a strong one, so we recommend you look carefully at the available tools and make sure everyone involved is happy and in full understanding of how things should be done.