Removing them from the shackles of the 9-to-5 and improving their overall work-life balance, remote working options are now considered an essential benefit by both existing employees and potential new recruits. In fact, a recent Total Jobs study found that almost a third of all job-hunters would actually change jobs if they weren’t allowed to work from home.
Although embracing such a flexible culture can lead to increased productivity, improved absence rates and reduced overhead costs, the sudden shift in working trends means businesses need to figure out how to keep their remote teams connected. After all, collaboration has always been the key to a successful business, and the rise of remote working certainly hasn’t changed that fact.
Fortunately, rapid advances in technology are providing businesses with all sorts of innovative collaboration platforms, with the likes of WebEx Teams and other visual solutions allowing remote workers to seamlessly connect with one another.
1. Video Conferencing
Although you might wince at the high travel costs and amount of wasted time involved, the importance of face-to-face interaction should never be underestimated. Since body language and facial expressions account for over half of message interpretation, meeting in person has often been the most effective way of avoiding any miscommunication.
Of course, this can prove incredibly problematic for remote workers, who either have to endure long travel distances or rely solely on email and telephone platforms. However, the rise of video conferencing is allowing businesses to resolve this problem, providing remote workers with a simple, convenient way of enjoying face-to-face interaction without needing to waste time travelling.
Working across multiple devices and allowing attendees to join from a place that best suits them, video conferencing brings remote teams together in a more streamlined, structured meeting experience. Instead of having to worry about lengthy commutes and frustrating travel delays, remote workers can now collaborate regularly and effectively; while modern HD video streams will make participants feel as though they’re in the same room together.
Additionally, research from Owl Labs shows that 93% of workers believe that video conferencing improves the connectedness of remote teams, while 90% also believe that the technology makes those teams more effective in their work.
2. Virtual Workspaces
Now with almost 5 million people working from home regularly in the UK, cloud-based workspaces are becoming an integral part of modern unified communications. The likes of Google Drive, Cisco Webex and One Drive provide remote workers with truly flexible collaboration platforms, making it easier than ever to share, edit and save relevant files.
Not only does this help teams stay much more organised, it also encourages them to consistently collaborate and continuously improve the standard of work being produced. Instead of feeling hampered by physical barriers, remote workers can now seamlessly access all of the information they need at any time, from any place.
Perhaps just as importantly, the implementation of a cloud-based workspace will enable businesses to monitor the performance and productivity of remote teams, while the sheer simplicity of these platforms should result in enhanced efficiency and improved results.
3. Instant Messaging
Many of these cloud-based workspaces will provide some form of instant messaging system, enabling team members to quickly ask each other questions and receive the information and advice they need to do their jobs. Slack and Google Hangouts are both prime examples of this; offering a convenient, continuous line of communication which helps remote workers keep in touch, receive feedback and maintain strong relationships.
Far more efficient than traditional email platforms and nowhere near as time consuming as a telephone call, instant messaging ensures teams can communicate more effectively and with fewer interruptions—allowing them to remain focused on the task in-hand.
4. Digital Whiteboarding
After Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk both made the headlines last year, it’s fair to say the issue of “unproductive” meetings has been thrust under the spotlight recently. In fact, Harvard Business Review report that over 70% of senior managers feel that meetings are inefficient, while a European survey found that 66% of workers actually make excuses to skip them altogether.
However, digital whiteboarding has the potential to revolutionise the entire meeting experience, encouraging teams to collaborate during sessions and ultimately increasing employee engagement. Instead of asking attendees to sit and listen to a one-way presentation, digital whiteboards ensure meetings become much more focused and driven.
More importantly, this innovative technology turns remote workers into active meeting participants, allowing them to annotate, highlight and share parts of the presentation through a shared screen. After being invited to attend a brainstorming session remotely, work-from-home staff can seamlessly connect with everyone else in the room—making them feel like an integral part of the team and increasing engagement with the project.