Prior to March 2020, only a small selection of businesses embraced the hybrid or remote working mentality. That all changed with the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses opposed to or curious of this work model were forced to adapt to a ‘new normal’.
Transitioning to virtual working environments has presented challenges many businesses were unprepared for. For decades, the world of work had stuck to the meeting culture reminiscent of the 1950s. Today’s work environment is drastically different, with remote and hybrid workers, collaborative workspaces, powerful cloud services and ‘work-cations’ on the rise.
Enterprise IT and technology experts IntraLAN examine how the working environment has evolved – and what steps businesses can take to ensure their workforces are engaged and productive.
Common Challenges with Distributed Workforces
From less opportunities for human interaction and the benefits that the social aspect of being in an office brings, to productivity issues and data security compliance, workforces who are no longer operating in an on-site environment have challenges to overcome.
Lack of human interaction
Working remotely removes employees’ chance for spontaneity and impromptu social interaction throughout the workday. Using instant messaging and basic unified communications can combat some of this but sometimes there are still some shortfalls, including providing managers with the ability to evaluate employee emotions or read body language.
Video is the perfect solution to ensuring teams can communicate face-to-face like they would in the office. Video conferencing through solutions such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack make picking up on non-verbal clues much easier than trying to decipher something through purely text. We suggest moving away from audio-only meetings to video conferencing to add a human element, ensuring employees don’t become lonely in distributed working situations.
Distracting environments and reduced productivity
One of the benefits of working remotely is the ability to work from anywhere – including hotels, a local café, on public transport or a home office. Inevitably, with external environments comes distractions. These distractions come in many forms, from televisions and pets to children and housework; promoting a culture of accountability can help employees stay on track and reduce project procrastination. Maintaining data securitywhen providing so much flexibility can be a major challenge too.
A huge benefit of working remotely is the ability to work when you’re most productive. For some employees, that could mean working outside of standard office hours. This could create a disconnect between employees and line managers and may lead to decreased productivity. It’s important that teams have regular check ins, either as a group on one-on-one, to ensure everyone is on track with project progress.
One of the easiest ways to manage productivity whilst creating a culture of accountability is using project management software. There are many different tools on the market to help navigate task setting and goals, including Asana and Monday.com.
One of the most popular is Microsoft Planner. It provides a structured project plan, task assignments and checklists for projects. Additionally, it’s integrated into other Microsoft applications like Microsoft Teams enabling greater collaboration without adding additional meetings into your schedule.
Distributed teams aren’t simply working remotely or in a hybrid way but also include teams located across multiple time zones. These unique challenges can make scheduling team meetings or speaking to someone regarding a project difficult. To alleviate these challenges, we suggest using the tools available to make collaboration more accessible – even with teams on the opposite side of the globe.
Whether your team is in the same office, the same country or spread across the planet, collaborative tools can help streamline project management and create a culture of digital collaboration. From using platforms like Jira, Asana or Basecamp to keep projects on track or tools like Time and Date to schedule meetings that work with employees across multiple time zones, innovation makes it incredibly easy to collaborate outside of the office with a diversified workforce.
The future of the diversified workforce
On-site IT teams were part of the standard business model for decades – but as technology continues to evolve, this practice will require further investment in security, hardware and staff. Whilst this practice or a hybrid form still exists, many businesses are looking into the future for a cloud-based option that is much more sophisticated and requires a partner like IntraLAN to ensure its security and infrastructure.
Like Microsoft’s Teams, Planner and additional add-on apps, communication tools are typically run as a SaaS or Paas (Software/Platform as a service). These collaboration and communication models offer the flexibility distributed and remote workforces need to work efficiently.
Enhance customer service, improve relations in distributed workforces and profit from efficiency gains with unified communications through IntraLAN. Contact our team to discover how we can help streamline your business communications and increase employee productivity today.