Published on April 28th, 2020 | by Sunit Nandi0
5 Remote Work Technologies Organizations Need to Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across the globe. If you are not infected by the novel coronavirus itself, you are affected by it in some way. As governments around the world struggle to stem its spread, there’s been a plethora of policies restricting movement and meetings.
Companies have had to make changes to their work environment in order to comply with these policies and/or protect workers from exposure. Overnight, remote work has moved from a rarely allowed alternative to on-site work, to the mainstream. This has pushed video conferencing, VoIP services, and other remote work technologies to the fore, as organizations strive to create a smooth transition to remote work.
1. Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network (VPN) is perhaps the single most important technology for remote work. Workers will have to log into their organization’s systems from home every day. To do that, they must first connect to the world wide web. The data packets will have to navigate the public Internet and this presents all kinds of dangers. Hackers may intercept login credentials or confidential customer information.
A VPN ensures that all communication through a public Internet connection remains secure. It creates an encrypted ‘tunnel’ that ensures all sensitive information remains out of reach of unauthorized persons.
2. Video Conferencing Tools
Once you have the VPN issue out of the way, video conferencing tools will probably be next on your deck. They provide an avenue for the face-to-face engagement that employees are already used to in the office. And for managers who feel the need to keep visual tabs on their teams, video conferencing technologies can do that. Many video conferencing apps can be turned on throughout business hours, thus giving teams the sense of being in the same space as their colleagues.
The world has come a long way from the time when video conferencing was synonymous with Skype. Today, there are numerous other apps to choose from, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Houseparty, and of course Skype. The ideal app for your business will come down to your requirements on pricing, maximum call attendees, and session time limits.
Video conferencing is great but may not always be the best option for remote communication. First, video calls are intrusive and may cause a participant unintended cringe-worthy embarrassment as this viral toilet mishap shows. Second, video calls require a certain minimum amount of bandwidth to work well. In this case, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) may be a viable alternative.
VoIP calls ride on Internet infrastructure and, therefore, cost much less than a conventional phone call. With VoIP, you can make calls from wherever you are as long there is an Internet connection, can send instant messages, and teleconference with co-workers and clients. They also don’t require as much bandwidth as video calls, so they will still go through where Internet connectivity is weak.
Most video conferencing tools have VoIP capabilities built-in, so they can serve the purpose.
4. Collaborative Tools
Collaborative tools are useful in all enterprise situations but they take on even greater importance where remote work is involved. These tools improve employee efficiency and productivity. From designating roles and assigning responsibilities, to routing documents and facilitating approvals. They are built to power intuitive, team-driven, problem-solving action.
No two collaborative tools are alike, but most will comprise a shared workspace platform, customizable teams, customizable dashboards, document management, online chat, discussion forms, workflow routing, user tagging capabilities, and third-party integration. Popular collaborative apps include Slack, Asana, Trello, GoToMeeting, and SharePoint.
5. Time Tracking
One of the main reasons companies have been reluctant in the past to embrace remote work is the fear of keeping track of employee activity. Some have gone around this risk by adopting a target-based approach. The employee is assigned some targets and evaluated in the achievement of these targets and not necessarily the time it takes. However, this strategy may not work in instances where a failure to meet the target on time has disastrous consequences.
In this case, the manager needs real-time access to employee activity, so they can arrest any slacking before it’s too late. How do you determine that your staff are actually doing what is required during working hours? The answer is time tracking apps. They monitor user activity and relay the information to the manager and, if needed, the company’s payroll department. They’ll often provide details on how much time the user spends on each app or website.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced many companies to develop, polish, and/or implement remote work policies on short notice. But it has also shown that many jobs are actually location-independent. By combining the right remote work technologies here with the right people, organizations can cut their workforce costs, boost productivity, and enhance customer experiences.