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Tools For Success In A Remote Work Environment

By John O'Haver

Here are some tips and tools for keeping your employees focused and productive.

Like many businesses in light of current events, Go Answer has transitioned over 75% of our workforce into a remote work environment.

Something that may shock a lot of people is that actually, 43% of employees work remotely with some frequency (Global Workplace Analytics, 2020).

That said, for some, working remotely is just another day.  For others, it evokes a lot of questions.

How do I remain productive working from home?  How do I access my files and communicate with my team?    

The need to realign strategies and find the appropriate collaboration tools has increased over the last few weeks as the number of employees working from home has skyrocketed amid circumstances no one could control. 

Businesses big and small should ensure that their employees are not only feeling supported but that they have the proper tools for success in a remote environment. 

Here are some tips and tools that Go Answer has utilized to keep employees focused and productive in a remote work environment.


Use a messenger tool such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.  This promotes constant and instant communication that allows employees to reach each other in real-time.  While these are both great tools for working remotely, they both have their pros and cons.

Slack

ProsCons
Ability to create channels for different purposes/departments as well as shared channels with other organizations using SlackSlack audio/video call quality is inferior to other platforms
Offers many integrationsEasy to create channels and groups
Simple file sharing capabilitiesCan be expensive for larger organizations
Easy to use and available on both desktop and mobileManaging workspace members (adding/removing) is not very easy to navigate and can be cumbersome

Microsoft Teams

ProsCons
Ability to create specific groups/teams based on purpose/departmentLimited flexibility when creating new teams – not able to move a channel or copy a Team
Integrates with all Microsoft productsThe way files are stored can be confusing.  If files are moved/organized, the original links do not work
Audio and video calling features work well with good qualityCan be expensive for large organizations
Has a great layout and friendly desktop interfaceNot as many integrations available outside of Microsoft products

Utilize a video conferencing service like Zoom or Google+ Hangouts.  While everyone is communicating constantly using a messenger or just talking on the phone, this is a great way to bring the visual part of communication to a remote work environment.  Organize virtual happy hours or use it for conference calls that used to be meetings to bring back that personal connection, video conferencing is a great way to keep up team morale and help employees not feel so alone while working remotely.

Zoom

ProsCons
Video and audio quality are greatSome lagging/freezing does occur
Screen sharing functionality is easy to useNo web app, must download Zoom app to use
Scheduling via Zoom or integrating with a calendar is very easyWeb dashboard is a bit cumbersome and difficult to navigate
Ability to have 10+ people in a meeting with no loss in qualityMobile app is not as functional as desktop and could use work

Google+ Hangouts

ProsCons
Interface is user friendlyFeatures are very basic, not much flexibility
Easy to add/remove contactsVideo quality not as high as other platforms
All-in-one spot for messaging, calling, and video conferencingNo ability to send files, only images
It’s completely freeConfusion between the functionality of Google Hangouts and Google Meet – should be merged into one platform

Hire a call center.  Using a call center can help make sure your business never misses an opportunity while the team is working remotely.  They can be there to support your business 24/7 or just when you need them.  Especially when your team may not have access to their office lines, hiring a call center is a great way to make sure your employees can get back to important clients and take some of the weight off of their shoulders while adjusting to remote work.


Provide an employee database.  Creating a searchable database, even just in a Google Sheet will help your employees easily source other workers based on department, role, or skills.


Engage a project management tool like Smartsheet or monday.com.   These tools are designed to create transparency in your organization and ensure that departments are on task with any projects or deadlines while. 

Smartsheet

ProsCons
Allows cross-team collaboration – sharing is easy and permissions are clearCan be a little clunky and difficult to navigate at first
Offers a lot of flexibility in terms of customizationExporting to Excel/Google Sheets is not seamless
Utilizes conditional formatting which provides the ability to create rules and logic based on your preferencesMay require training to ensure it is being used to its fullest potential
Reminders and requests can be sent from Smartsheet informing team members of upcoming due dates/tasks to their emailOlder looking interface as compared to some competitors

Monday.com

ProsCons
Great visual functionality – easy to create boards and easy to see progression of tasksMobile app could use some improvement
Offers many templates for all kinds of projects that you can customize to your likingTagging system is limited – only allows a certain number of tags that can be created
Promotes transparency by having all projects organized in one placePrice is somewhat expensive – no per user options, only packages of 5, 10 people, etc.
Has good marketing automation tools that allow you to integrate with web forms and landing pagesBetter for high-level workflows as opposed to more granular ones

These 5 tools for working remotely, in conjunction with business best practices can help improve the employee experience, develop a virtual company culture, and encourage a solid knowledge of new digital platforms that can help grow business and productivity. 

Even though full-time remote work due to the current pandemic is only temporary, these tools can set your business up for success back in the office and prepare your team for potential difficult times in the future.