Since March 2020, we have been living the new normal, and no one knows how long it will go on. One thing is certain, however: The new normal is going to play a big roll in our business planning for 2021, and how businesses set up their collaboration tools will be one of the most important considerations in these plans.
Earlier this year, companies were fast to grab online collaboration platforms to facilitate their daily team needs. The speed at which companies were forced to move, lead to many paying a heavy price in terms of compromised security, data breaches and the occasional Zoom bombing.
Now, however, as we prepare for 2021, and with the benefit of time and some hard lessons learned, there is the opportunity to re-evaluate some decisions and move your business in the right direction with the right set of online collaboration tools. The first step is to make sure that the tools you opt for are closely aligned with your business and facilitate the collaboration needs of today.
To help you evaluate your specific business needs, here are some important questions you need to ask yourself:
- How will my business benefit from a fully remote work model?
Employees working remotely can net significant benefits for your business. These include:
- With a closely integrated personal and professional life, there is an increased level of flexibility among the employees
- Significant reduction of expenses
- Increased geographic area from which to recruit employees
- Ability to enhance productivity and performance
- Higher rates of employee satisfaction
- Increased retention rates
- Employee absenteeism reduces
While not every business is alike, it is crucial to analyze how remote work has benefitted your business and then plan accordingly for the future.
- What are the possible disadvantages of switching to a fully remote work model?
With employees working from home, you do not have any control on their environment. There can be several issues that an employee can encounter, which can impact your business negatively. These include:
- Dealing with technical issues with no IT support on site
- Higher chances of employees getting distracted by domestic issues
- Reduced employee networking
- Greater risk of digital security breeches, especially when handling confidential information
- Difficulty maintaining work-life balance, especially with work hours being widely distributed
As a business owner, you need the right set of collaboration solutions to help navigate through these challenges.
- What impact will it have on the productivity of my business?
Before you opt for permanent work-from-home setups, analyze the productivity levels of your employees in their home environments. Some may be more productive, while some may be less productive in comparison with their respective in-office performance levels. It is crucial to monitor changes in your business’s productivity levels and implement solutions that help your employees overcome challenges, if any.
- Do I have the capabilities to sustain a fully remote work model over the long term (or even indefinitely)?
There is no point in switching to a fully remote work model if you do not have the resources to maintain it in the long run. Before making the shift, you need to do a deep dive and assess what technologies and tools are needed. Here is a hint: An audio or video conferencing solution is just the start.
- Will my employees embrace the switch to a fully remote office?
According to a remote work report, 98% of employees are willing to work remotely permanently. Despite these stats, you need to assess if your employees are truly ready to commit to remote work.
With so many employees working remotely today, now is a good time to ask a few questions to gather feedback. Here are a few questions worth considering:
- How much do you prefer working from home? (Rate on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest)
- How productive are you when working from home as compared with in-office? Choose from the given options:
- more productive
- same as in-office
- less productive
- What is the main challenge of working from home?
- What are some negative aspects about working from home?
- What is positive about working from home?
- Would you choose to work from home permanently if given the option?
- What impact might this have on my customers?
Your business exists because of your customers, and that is why you need to consider them first and foremost when planning for a fully remote office. The key is to assess if you can deliver the same, or better customer service through this set up. Again, the tools and technology you invest in will make all the difference.
- What tools will my team need to effectively work from home?
Before making the transition, it is your job to make sure that your employees have the right set of tools and technology for a remote office setup. Below are some tools you may need:
- Team messaging and communication platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.
- Web and video conferencing solutions like GlobalMeet, Cisco WebEx, Adobe Connect, Empower Web Conferencing, etc.
- Project Management Software like Basecamp, Trello, Monday.com, Jira, GatherContent, Confluence, etc.
- Cloud-based storage options offered by Google Drive, One Drive, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.
- Employee time tracking tools like Harvest, Toggl, Everhour, ClickTime, Dashable, etc.
To make the transition and sustain it in the long run, it is essential to have the right set of online collaboration tools. To continue managing your business and employees effectively in a remote setup, you need to evaluate what you have and plan for what you will need in future.