Working remotely, team collaboration, and the future of work are popular and prominent topics in trending articles across the globe right now. Topics that, until now, were perhaps not in front of mind for most businesses.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has, and will, create many dire outcomes for people and businesses around the world and in the Hunter Region. There are however good outcomes available, if businesses are willing to take action to accelerate technology adoption, business modernisation, and kick start the scale-up cycle.
Change for improvement is normally initiated by choice. The changes that COVID-19 will require are being imposed on all of us. In either case, when change happens, it’s natural for businesses and people to go through a period of adjustment. But that’s how we learn to adapt, isn’t it?
A growing number of organisations will need to embrace remote work, especially given the spread of COVID-19. Businesses will be looking for solutions to help them manage through this crisis and minimise the inevitable disruption. Small and medium businesses will likely not be aware of available options.
That is why we decided to put together a quick guide on how an SME can use available and cost effective technology options for staff to work together without restrictions, whether they are working from home or together in the office.
Sharing documents is the easiest way to work remotely and collaborate with your team, wherever you are.
The Microsoft Office suite is the most known and used office suite and the most recent offering is Office 365. However, over the years alternatives released include equivalent document, spreadsheet, presentation, email, calendar and video conferencing applications.
Despite the many alternatives, most businesses know and use the MS Office applications. In my experience, most users don’t know about or use the full range of features and functionality that’s available in these products. The reality is that most don’t need all this functionality and it just introduces unnecessary complexity for the user.
Available alternatives include Zoho Workplace, Polaris Office, LibreOffice, WPS Office Free, FreeOffice and Google G Suite. To me, the best options in this list are Zoho and GSuite.
These alternatives have come a long way in the last 10 years and can now easily replace the premium applications. Although the free versions are tempting they are limited. Use these options to test alternatives and make a subscription selection.
Remote work by collaboration with sharing documents creates a data security and ownership issue for the business. The available options include OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Shared Drives, Box, and Zoho WorkDrive.
Although these all have integrations with each other it’s less complicated to use the one that is a direct fit with your selected office suite. OneDrive, Google Shared Drives and Zoho WorkDrive all give you access to the applicable office apps.
There are plenty of articles about the future of work and how more people will work remotely. All they need to be successful is a reliable internet connection, job management and time tacking tools, and a solid work ethic.
Buffer asked nearly 2,500 people in 2019 what they thought about remote work and 99% of respondents said they would prefer to work remotely at least some of the time, for the rest of their career.
The 2018 Global State of Remote Work report by OWL Labs surveyed around 3,000 people from 23 countries. It showed that 56% of companies allowed remote work, 49% of respondents work remotely full-time, 52% work remotely at least once a week, and 68% work remotely at least once a month.
The results suggest that remote work is not just a trend but a growing aspect of the future of work. The research also found that companies that allow remote work enjoy 25% less turnover than those that do not.
Some of the main reasons people like working remotely include increased productivity and better focus. Another is collaboration. Collaboration is vitally important in the modern workplace, and effective team collaboration is central to company’s growth.
With the current spread of COVID-19, a lot of companies, mostly larger ones, are making arrangements for staff to work remotely, to help reduce the spread of the virus and also to help limit the impact on productivity.
Collaborative software allows employees to work remotely whilst still being able to communicate and collaborate with others directly.
Collaboration is the new normal in the workplace. No longer are employees expected to work cut off from one another, but instead are needed to work more closely together. Collaboration means improved efficiency and increased productivity, but only if you have the right tools for collaboration in the first place.
Skype is the collaboration software within the Office 365 suite. Alternatives, consistent with those mentioned above are Zoho Meeting and Google HangOuts. Other popular alternatives include Notion, Slack, Asana, Trello, Flock, and Basecamp.
The intent of these applications is to establish a collaboration communications platform so that it’s easy for teams of people to share documents and work together and, of course, keep it securely stored in a single location. Features include chat, screen share, to-do lists, scheduling and automated check-in.
The Silver Lining
Many articles have promoted remote work as a nebulous, future of work phenomenon, done by freelancers and digital nomads, but this isn’t the case anymore. Nor is it the true opportunity.
Every dark cloud has a silver lining. The disruption created by the current COVID-19 situation presents an opportunity for businesses to make productive use of the inevitable business downtime and focus resources and effort on adopting these technologies.
Be aware that working remotely can be overwhelming and complicated sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be when your team are supported and helped to use the right collaboration platform.
The days of collaborative and remote working are here. Take advantage of the current silver lining, not only to get through the current situation but to also set up your business for future success. Using these technologies to modernise your business, automate workflows and kick off the Business Scale-Up cycle are fundamental to future success.
The many options available today mean connecting staff to work remotely should not be an insurmountable problem or a costly exercise. Whether you and your team were already considering working remotely or you’ll see the silver lining and try it out for the first time, we’re here to make it easier for you.
Whenever you are ready, book a free 30-Minute discussion to explore how.