Remote working is fast becoming commonplace at businesses and organisations of all sizes.
It has distinct advantages both for employees and employers. Staff can work when they want, where they want and have access to the resources they need to be successful. And employers can improve the quality of their workforce and reduce their costs and need for onsite premises.
Even the World Economic Forum has taken the view that remote working will play a vital role in the future workforce, as the global economy looks to bounce back from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, while the past two years have shown many businesses that allowing staff to work from home isn’t a bad thing, many employers still don’t have the technologies and processes in place to help their remote staff work most effectively.
Here, we look at the best technologies for effective remote working and how your business can benefit.
Business benefits of remote working
While there will always be a place for traditional office-based working, one trend we expect to continue as COVID restrictions wind down is the shift to remote working.
In fact, the pandemic has helped many employers open their eyes to the benefits that remote working can bring.
Studies have found that remote working can lead to significant improvements in staff engagement and morale levels. This directly translates into enhanced performance and productivity, lower staff absence levels and, ultimately, improved profitability.
From a cost point of view, remote working can help businesses make big savings on their overheads, real estate and operating costs.
When it comes to attracting and recruiting new talent, a huge benefit of offering WFH or remote working is you can reach a wider talent pool and offer a broader range of opportunities without limiting them to potential recruits in a strict geographical location or area. This can be especially helpful for businesses based in small towns or rural communities, where access to skilled people is limited.
From an HR perspective, WFH or remote working can have a positive impact on staff wellbeing. It can minimise your team’s commute time to and from their place of work, reduce stress and help them achieve a better work/life balance. It can also help with staff retention.
Many employees are looking for more flexibility in their careers. They are much more likely to stay loyal to an employer that offers them remote or flexible working patterns that they can fit around their lifestyles.
It’s now widely accepted in the world of business that home-based or remote staff can be just as focused and productive as their office-based colleagues.
The challenge for employers is giving their staff the tools and technologies they need to perform their roles more effectively.
So, whether you’re just waking up to the benefits of remote working or want to enhance your staff’s performance even further, here are some things you need to consider.
Essential technologies for remote working
As the shift toward remote working accelerates, the way businesses keep their teams connected, happy and productive is vital. Digital technology makes that possible. Cloud services like Microsoft 365 give businesses everything they need to ensure their people can work together more cohesively from wherever they are.
Here are some ways Microsoft 365 and its tools can support remote working and help your business become more agile.
Although video conferencing has been around for many years, it has really come to the fore since 2020. Many businesses rely on tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to stay connected with their staff and customers. In fact, Microsoft Teams was one of the fastest-growing IT platforms during the past two years.
It’s a powerful communications tool that enables virtual meetings, screenshares, instant chat, and file-sharing in a controlled and secure environment. It helps reduce or even eliminate travelling and the challenges of scheduling in-person meetings across different sites.
It also links with a host of other Microsoft apps, like email, calendar, OneDrive and the Microsoft Power Platform, to help you manage projects effectively, keep track of communications and organise important information in a single location.
If you’ve not tried it already, give us a call to see how we can help you get the most from it.
File sharing and document management
If you have a dispersed workforce, with team members either spread across different offices or working from home, enabling access and collaboration on shared files like Word documents, Excel Spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations is essential.
Tools like SharePoint are perfect for storing, organising and sharing information across teams, as well as editing and feeding back on documents in real-time.
All your vital documents, information and data are stored online, meaning your team will always be able to share, access, view and edit the latest versions of your files from any location and internet-enabled device.
This can help reduce the errors and miscommunications that can occur when different versions of the same document are shared via email.
Task sharing and project management
With virtual teams working across multiple locations and – in some cases – time zones, it can be challenging for everyone to stay connected and updated on shared projects.
Microsoft 365 features a host of in-built task sharing and project management tools that make allocating tasks and monitoring progress easy.
They enable remote workers to accept tasks and notify others about who has committed to the work, alert everyone in the team when a job has been completed to keep the workflow moving, and store and organise project files to ensure teams are always working on the latest versions.
OneDrive cloud storage
In most modern workplaces, remote working – and working in general – is most effective when it is supported by cloud storage, which makes it easy for anyone, wherever they are located, to access a file or folder.
OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage platform and helps remote workers better collaborate by accessing and sharing documents, images and folders from multiple devices, editing files in real-time, controlling versions and synchronising files, and recovering backed-up data in the event of breach or data loss.
Cloud storage is usually more affordable than on-premise storage, so it helps level the playing field for smaller businesses.
If you’re allowing your team to work from home or remotely, it’s vital you take every possible step to protect your users, systems and data and ensure your people can work safely and securely.
Microsoft 365 has a host of in-built cyber security features that help keep your networks and data safe and compliant and protect your users against hackers, malware and data theft.
See our recent blog about remote working and business security for more insight into how to keep your business and users safe from cyber criminals.
Why you need a technology partner
As the technology landscape continues to evolve, businesses will need to adopt a more flexible approach to how they work as they adapt to life after the pandemic.
Many have already experienced first-hand the benefits that remote working can bring and have made it a significant part of their operations.
The key challenge they face is identifying and investing in the right technologies to facilitate remote working, getting the most out of these new platforms and using them to their full capabilities.
However, many businesses don’t have the in-house resource or expertise required to bring about the best results.
That’s why working with a technology partner, such as Quintech, can pay dividends.
Our role is to ensure your IT serves your business in the best way, to help you reach your full potential. From initial advice, training and guidance to supporting the whole journey from start to finish, we can help.
We’ll work with you to assess your business needs and identify solutions like Microsoft 365 to solve them. We can also review your current IT infrastructure to see how it can be improved and get it ready for Microsoft 365.
As an experienced Microsoft Partner, we can provide both Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure to help you take full advantage of the benefits offered by tools including Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive, along with a secure, fully scalable and virtual Cloud platform that can be tailored to your budget.
To find out more about how we can support your business and help you achieve improvement through technology, please get in touch.