With improvements in technology, a business’s location is dissolving into a globally connected landscape where workers can be remote in any locale of their choosing.
Upwards of 36% of the workforce is working remotely with more than 50% working remotely in the next ten years, a 2017 study predicted. With recent circumstances forcing more employees to their home offices, we can expect that number to inflate bigger and quicker than predicted. The focus now should be, how can we encourage productivity from remote workers? What technology and tools will maximize their time? Technology promotes remote worker productivity by providing multiple channels of communication, accountability, and information. Here are some examples!
The digital age has brought in text as the communication avenue of choice via email, social media, and instant messaging. This is convenient for many reasons, but many subtleties of tone and body language are lost through text. Building and maintaining interpersonal relationships also require some face-to-face communication. In-person meetings for remote teams are costly and time-consuming.
But video conferencing technology bridges the gap from text to talk for remote works. Establishing regular video calls helps team members feel connected even when they are physically isolated. The regularity of a check-in call provides accountability, which is a key factor in managing projects with multiple remote workers.
Time Tracking Software
A major concern for employers is that they can’t know how remote employees are spending their time. For some employers, as long as the results are delivered on time, the how and how long doesn’t matter as much. But what if you run a business that has billable hours to clients? Or if your employees are not turning in deliverables on time? Time tracking software could be the solution. These SaaS solutions range from automated tools that track every minute of logged on time to more manual options.
Some tools track all employee activity as long as they are logged onto a company portal or device. Some take screenshots to show you what the employee has in front of their eyes. The programs run in the background, but also are the most micromanaging. Perhaps you want to allow your employees more autonomy or freedom in their workday, or you don’t have the capacity for employees to all be logged onto one system.
Many time tracker applications allow remote workers to log in and out of the app as needed. This can be great if you have billable vs. nonbillable client time or allow for employees’ freedom of schedule. No matter which route or tool you choose, adding a time tracker is a great way to organize your team and provide accountability that is sometimes lost outside of a traditional office.
AI is part of what has been dubbed the fourth industrial revolution, a technology-led renaissance of progress. Robots and other automated technology are now merging with human employees to streamline processes like manufacturing and communication. Quick, uninterrupted communication continues to be a leading challenge for remote worker productivity. Leveraging artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots can help bridge the gap for frequent or common issues.
A chatbot is an instant messaging tool powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that provides instant responses to messengers when a live person isn’t available. Where email communications can be cumbersome and slow, instant messaging is quick and ideal for short bits of information. For example, a team wants to schedule a virtual meeting with members in different locations and time zones. Doing so over email strings of back-and-forth, copied addresses, and time zone conversions is tedious and complicated.
But with emerging AI chatbot technology, team members can enter their availability into a message group and let the tech do the work, nearly instantly. Chatbots are also a more comprehensive substitute for a FAQ’s page. Many questions can be resolved with standard responses programmed into the chatbots. Alternatively, chatbots can direct complex inquiries to the right person, without needing a human gatekeeper.
Cloud Storage Options
A cloud storage system provides a secure and streamlined way for everyone on a team to collectively store and share documents. When you are not in a traditional office, it’s impossible to have an isolated server for all employees. Email can leave a messy trail to chase if you are trying to collaborate on documents. Personal storage options are not as secure.
Cloud storage systems provide an encrypted way to store and share collaborative documents. It can be significantly cheaper than managing an internal server. The cloud also allows for complete freedom of location. Remote employees can access the cloud anywhere, and with nearly any device, as long as they hold the log-in credentials.
Technology has enabled an unprecedented level of interconnectedness that has given rise to remote work opportunities across industries. From communication tools to robotic automation, these solutions can help your employees to maximize their efforts and deliver outstanding results wherever they are in the world.
About the author: Heather Redding is a content manager for rent, hailing from Aurora. She loves to geek out writing about wearables, IoT, and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.