However, ensuring your business is equipped with the right tools for remote workers to ensure they can remain productive and collaborate away from the office, is vital to its success.
Before the pandemic, remote working was implemented by the minority. For many business owners, remote working may have conjured up images of sensitive information being leaked from a personal computer or workers with their feet up, scrolling through Netflix looking for something to binge-watch instead of meeting their deadlines. Now, businesses and their teams from all over the world, have seen that remote working can bring amazing benefits. From workers having a better work/life balance to businesses having access to a wider talent pool, due to workers not having to commute to a physical office.
Many businesses have already implemented permanent remote working or hybrid working, despite there not being a need for it anymore, because they noticed the success and rewards it provided. However, for some, making remote working permanent for their business is a scary thought, due to technological issues that may have occurred during the pandemic. If this sounds like your remote working experience, it’s understandable why you didn’t want to implement it permanently when we were allowed to return to physical workspaces. However, many technological issues that may have been experienced will, more than likely, have been down to technology that was incompatible and businesses not investing in solutions and knowledge that can facilitate remote working. You could be missing out on many benefits and the only thing that is stopping you is finding and implementing the right technological tools.
At Elite, we have a passion for demonstrating how implementing the correct technology can help you to improve your business and the experience of your employees and customers. As we mentioned before, it’s about knowing what solutions can facilitate remote working and how to use them. So, that’s precisely what we’re going to do now. From communication to managing remote teams, we’re going to introduce you to some of the most important features remote working tools need to possess. We’ll also outline some key solutions you can use to implement successful remote working. By the time we get to the end, the concept may not be quite as scary as you think!
Ok, imagine that you’re in the kitchen and you’re preparing a meal. When it comes to chopping up your vegetables, what tool are you going to use? A knife is probably the most common choice, right? Now, it’s a cold winter’s night and you’re planning on getting nice and cosy in front of the fire, as you eat the meal you’ve lovingly prepared for yourself. In order to do that, you’re going to have to chop up some firewood. An axe would, probably, be the obvious choice of tool for this task. Due to the equipment matching the task you need to fulfil, both will result in success, you’ll make a lovely meal and enjoy it by the fire – awesome! It’s so pleasant that you’re likely to implement this experience in your daily life more often!
However imagine if you were expected to chop up wood for the fire, but the only tool you had to hand was a kitchen knife. You’re going to be there for a while and probably experience a lot of nasty splinters. Similarly, what would happen if you had to chop up the veggies, but the only tool you had was an axe? That would probably result in a trip to A&E and your kitchen looking like a scene from a horror film. After the disastrous results of these experiences, are you going to want to chop vegetables or firewood again? Probably not. However, the reason neither of these tasks ended in success wasn’t because of the tasks themselves, but because you were not equipped with the right tools.
It’s exactly the same with remote working. It’s not the concept itself that is unsuccessful, it’s the lack of correct tools that can cause it to fail. Expecting your team to be just as productive and communicate effectively, as they would in the office, without equipping them with the correct tools is exactly the same as expecting someone to successfully cut up logs for a fire with a kitchen knife. Knowing which tools to implement can be a bit tricky if you’re not sure where to start, so let’s break it down into different two categories – Collaboration and Productivity.
It can be argued that the best way for people to collaborate is face to face. They can sit round a table, work together on documents and projects and instantly get answers to any questions or concerns. Whilst this is effective (it’s worked for hundreds of years!) it isn’t the only way and remote working doesn’t have to have such a negative impact on employee collaboration. There are many collaboration and communication platforms out there that can help your team to stay connected, but there are a few main features that you will want to prioritise when investing in these platforms for remote teams.
Firstly a user-friendly interface is important, but not often the first feature that people consider when choosing a communication platform. We tend to prioritise platforms that boast loads of impressive features and capabilities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The more tools that can help your team complete their duties, the better, but this platform is going to be integrated within your business with many people having to learn how to use it. A solution that has a difficult user interface, with a complicated layout that is difficult to navigate is not only going to take your team longer to learn how to use, it’s going to delay productivity and essentially the usefulness of the platform. It will also result in a lot of frustration and plenty of swearing at computer screens – not exactly ideal for your team.
Furthermore, a platform that can offer multiple ways to communicate including voice and video calls, virtual meetings and messaging is also beneficial, as it offers a variety of options for your team to communicate. They are able to personalise their communication to what suits them and also each project that they work on. If the platform offers great messaging features, but the video calls are poor quality, this could hinder some of your teams’ duties and their overall ability to collaborate. It can also take away the personal element of seeing colleagues ‘face-to-face’.
Finally, enabling your team to work on projects and documents, in real-time, is an incredibly important feature. It can mimic the experience of sitting around the table looking at the same document and prevents the glacial slog of emailing documents to be edited and sent back again. A communication platform that allows documents to be sent and received instantly and worked on at the same time can speed up your business processes and progress on projects. No hanging around waiting for a team member to reply.
Like we said before, there are many platforms that implement many of these features, but having a platform that unifies all forms of communication and facilitates collaboration, at the same time, is going to be the best tool. It means less applications for your IT to manage, less security issues that need to be monitored and, overall, less time having to learn how to use different platforms and less faffing around moving from one platform to the next to get the job done. Is there a specific solution that enables this? Hang tight, we’ll explain how you can unify your work-from-home tools to secure remote working success a little later on!
When it comes to facilitating productivity, the concept is similar to choosing a communication platform. Along with a layout that everyone can quickly learn how to use, you want to be able to provide the same level of collaboration and access to information from a remote location, as you would in the office. This is where cloud technology can be incredibly helpful. Utilising productivity applications that incorporate cloud storage, ensure that your team have access to their required information from anywhere. Allowing your team to collaborate in real-time, is crucial to enabling the same level of productivity remotely, as in the office. Choosing a productivity platform that doesn’t just allow access to information, but facilitates active teamwork on this information will truly empower your team to collaborate from anywhere.
When it comes to data security, storing your information in the cloud can give you access to advanced security measures that protects your data, regardless of access being gained from a remote location or the office. From multi-factor authentication to authorised permissions, remote wiping and built-in safeguarding measures, cloud productivity platforms ensure peace of mind whilst fuelling powerful productivity. Even if a device is lost or stolen, with the correct security measures your data remains secure.
Furthermore, choosing a productivity platform that not only allows access to information, but the same applications and programmes that your team uses in the office, is also a really important feature. Not everybody has access to tools such as the Microsoft Office Suite, so if it is imperative that your team needs to use these applications then access to them is vital. Teams having to resort to using any alternative programmes and platforms they can find to complete their job remotely, not only hinders their productivity, but it can also make business information vulnerable and limit your access to business documents. Having a cloud accessible version of your business’s applications available to your team, means they can get on with doing their job remotely, without disruption, and you remain in control of your business documents and information.
Like all solutions, there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ tool to facilitate remote working within your business. The best place to start is research. Look at your teams and identify which roles would be suited to remote working and which wouldn’t. From there you will need to analyse the duties your team needs to carry out during the working day and the type of applications and data they will need to have access to. Now you can start looking at tools and solutions to enable your team to complete these duties remotely. However, it’s always good to have an idea of some of the solutions available to you and how you could incorporate them into your business to allow remote working.
Let’s start with communication. As we said before, having a collaboration tool that unifies communication in one platform and provides options for many different forms of communication to suit different teams is incredibly useful. Microsoft Teams is a wonder tool when it comes to communication and collaborative productivity. Remember how we said that an easy-to-understand layout and simple user interface is important when looking at remote working tools. Microsoft Teams looks pretty similar to social media communication platforms, which your workers will, more than likely, be familiar with. From initiating their first video call to sending messages to their colleagues and accessing documents, your team will be able to get to grips with the layout quickly and effectively.
When it comes to the standard of communication, workers have access to high-quality video calls, voice communication and virtual meeting facilities. With screen-sharing capabilities, customisable backgrounds and built-in instant messaging, virtual meetings become more personal and your team will feel like they can really connect despite the distance between them. Now, when working in the office you can take as many notes as possible, but it can be tricky to note down every single thing that goes on in a meeting. With video recording, your team can rewatch meetings as many times as they need – no more forgetting key points or missing useful gobbets of information from their time collaborating together. Microsoft Teams goes one step further by incorporating productivity elements within the communication platform, so your team has access to Microsoft Office documents and the ability to work together on them, in real time, without leaving the platform.
So, with Microsoft Teams, we’ve covered a lot of key tools that your team needs to work remotely successfully, but can we take this further by integrating the use of more productivity tools? Yes we can with Microsoft 365! Combine Microsoft Teams with the suite of Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more, as well as intelligent cloud services and world-class security. Your team have the ability to share content, knowledge and applications with SharePoint, which is a powerful intranet that enables your team to collaborate effortlessly. With customisable sites for different teams and projects that allow your people to share a variety of files, documents, data, news and information, you can keep your team engaged whether they are on-premises, working in the field or from home.
With OneDrive, you can harness the power of the cloud to securely store, share and access your business data whenever and wherever you need to. Whether you want to show a brochure to your client from your iPad, proof-read a report from your phone whilst making a coffee or need to edit a PowerPoint on your laptop when working from home, your work is available wherever you are! Due to your data being stored in the cloud, you have peace of mind that it is secure. With secure data backup within OneDrive, you won’t lose your files or data even if the device is lost or stolen. Need to work on a document with your team, but you can’t make it in to the office? No problem! With OneDrive, you can share and work on documents in real-time for quick, efficient and productive collaboration.
With Microsoft 365 you basically have everything you need to enable your team to take the office home with them, securely, and be just as productive remotely as they would be on-premises. Your applications are always up to date with the latest versions on all devices and with Outlook and Exchange, your team have more ways to connect with each other and your customers. Overall, Microsoft 365 is a powerhouse platform that combines, productivity, security, communication and collaboration tools all in one package for a streamlined solution that is easily integrated into your business.
We are firm believers that work is what you do rather than where you do it, that’s why we have a passion for helping businesses utilise technology, so they can take full advantage of the benefits of remote and hybrid working. When you purchase remote working tools and solutions from Elite, you’re getting so much more than a product. Our expert team is on hand to help you find the perfect solutions to make remote working a success. Elite’s customer-focused approach, puts you in the driving seat – you tell us what you need and we’ll find it and, more importantly, help you to get the most out of it. We’re proud to be a Microsoft Gold Partner, so if you’re looking to utilise Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams or Microsoft Azure to facilitate remote working, you can count on our team of highly-trained specialists to help you to find the best product for you.
Whether you’re looking to improve your technology to iron out technical issues with remote teams or looking to introduce remote working for the first time and don’t know where to start, you can find everything you need plus unbeatable support, advice and knowledge from Elite Group.
Elite Group is a leading technology provider which delivers and manages unified IT and communications services to enable businesses to communicate and collaborate in a secure, productive and profitable way.
Providing unrivalled technical support and with dedication to customer service, Elite’s team is renowned for helping organisations achieve their productivity objectives and business goals.