There’s no place like home to get work done when you can’t or don’t need to make it into the office. Unless it’s a hotel, the beach, or anywhere else you’d rather be.
More and more employees are working from their location of choice — choosing convenience and flexibility over the corporate environment. If you can get online, you can join a video conference call, send a report or presentation, and do whatever your colleagues in the office are doing, short of sharing a pizza.
Work flexibility can improve productivity and employee engagement, but simply purchasing technology here and there won’t get you the results you want. Virtual work has been a trend for a long time, but improving the practice is now key for many organizations.
Efficiency goals and employee demand are driving organizations’ efforts to refine policies and upgrade technologies. According to a Gallup report, more than a third of workers would switch jobs if they could work—at least sometimes—at the location of their choice. More than half say they would switch jobs for a more flexible schedule.
Companies that are seeing the advantages of flexible work must now figure out how best to equip their workers, as well as how all these collaboration technologies will interact and integrate.
AVI Systems published a guide to local and remote collaboration technology so that businesses and organizations can learn how to assess their needs and evaluate technology solutions to reach their collaboration goals. Find the guide here.
More Than a Trend, Remote Work is the Future
From employees who take occasional work-from-home days to full-time digital nomads, many organizations now find a way to accommodate flexible and remote workers.
You’ll occasionally hear of a company that is trying to rein in its remote employees, but more companies are embracing the practice of remote work, especially as technologies make it easier to do.
Increased video adoption, more online work management options, and the decreasing cost of displays and other solutions are just a few of the ways technologies are better enabling flexible work.
Telecommuting has grown 115 percent over the past 10 years. That decade has proven that virtual work is more than just a passing fad.
It is the future of work.
In fact, flexible work arrangements are no longer just concessions that employers make to attract or retain talent — they are part of larger strategies to improve productivity and save on real estate, equipment, and travel costs.
Telecommuting has grown 115 percent over the past 10 years.
The Technology Factor
It makes sense that employees would want work that allows a better work-life balance, cuts down on commute time, eliminates office distractions, and more. The desire for flexibility remains constant, but technology is an evolving factor affecting the prevalence and effectiveness of virtual work.
For some organizations, virtual work capabilities consist of video, audio, and content sharing. But there are many more opportunities for companies that want to take full advantage of a remote and flexible workforce.
Here are some of the tools you’ll want:
- Video conferencing. Conversations and meetings don’t need to be in person because modern video can capture everything from tone of voice to body language. Employers that have been hesitant to jump on the flexible work train can now see that the technology can make remote meetings like being in the same room. And you can record these meetings, which often doesn’t happen during in-person meetings.
- Collaboration solutions. Messaging and work management platforms allow everyone to stay on the same page without requiring constant status updates. Messaging threads and online status reports replace in-person conversations.
- Personal devices. Many organizations accept BYOD but embracing it is key for flexible work. Employees should feel comfortable using apps and online tools to communicate and perform work from their device of choice. There are more dependable, mobile-friendly integration options for platforms than ever, and there is no longer the need to hold up work while everyone waits for someone to get to their computer.
- Content sharing tools. Content sharing means more than showing your whiteboard on a camera. It is the ability to share screens, distribute presentations, and even mark up materials on a conference call.
With all those capabilities, your location won’t adversely impact collaboration as long as you have decent internet access.
Choosing the Right Tools
With the ability to work from anywhere and anytime, work is more a state of mind than a place. But remote work can result in varying degrees of frustration and productivity. The difference lies in the technologies you use.
To invest in the right tools, evaluate the kinds of work your employees will be doing and how they want to do them.
Will they need to place calls from the airport or will they be creating slide decks from the home office?
Then, determine what kinds of capabilities they need to be most productive. Finally, you can begin to evaluate solutions that will meet those needs.
Not all solutions with the same capabilities are created equal, so choosing them requires some research or expert advice. Be sure to include employees in the final decision.
Learn more about selecting solutions for remote work by reading this blog post on assessing your technology needs for remote collaboration.