In any business, the ability for staff members to communicate with one another and their supervisors is preeminently important. This is even truer now that the majority of the workforce is working remotely. In order to effectively manage their teams, there are a number of technologies that managers and business owners can take advantage of best equip their staff to work from home and keep lines of communication open. At the same time, it is critical that managers, owners, and staff adjust their expectations of the type of work that can be accomplished at home, and how it can be accomplished.
First up – communication. I’m sure almost everyone reading this article has heard of Zoom now, the remote meetings company that has seen usage of their software skyrocket in the past few months. An application like Zoom, or Google Duo/Hangouts, GoToMeeting, is an invaluable tool for employees working from home. Being part of an ongoing or regularly scheduled video conference allows employees to collaborate more effectively with their peers, as well as feel a connection they might otherwise be missing. It is difficult to replicate the natural flow of conversation via an email, that’s where video conferencing and instant messaging comes in!
Although a Zoom meeting (or something similar) can be a huge benefit for those working from home, it is nigh impossible to have something akin to a sidebar conversation while participating in a Zoom meeting. To supplement video chat, an instant messaging application can provide tremendous collaboration benefit. Applications like Slack or Microsoft Teams are specifically designed with collaboration in mind. They allow teams to create workflows for one another, share documents and pictures, and talk to one another. Instant messengers represent something like a happy medium between a video conference/telephone call and an email and allow for a more natural conversation flow. This is not to say that either of these technologies can replace face to face conversation—one important tip is not to be afraid to use emoji’s. It can be very difficult to convey tone via text alone, appending a silly smiley face at the end of a message can entirely change the way it’s received!
One critical component to facilitating collaboration for staff is a centralized repository for documents. This can be accomplished with something like OneDrive or DropBox, but it is very important that security precautions are taken when configuring a tool like this—it can unfortunately be entirely too easy to expose sensitive documents to the public internet. If you have any concerns when setting up a service like these consult an IT professional.
Finally, as employees, managers, and owners adjust to working from home, it is important that some measure of grace be given. Most professionals are used to enterprise class internet service at their place of business. This usually entails what it referred to as dedicated bandwidth, meaning that the Internet Service Provider always provides the bandwidth that is allocated to the business. This does not exist with residential internet service. The lack of dedicated bandwidth (residential internet is what is referred to as shared) coupled with the unusual strain of many more people working from home, or using their home internet for entertainment during business hours, has placed extraordinarily high demand on residential internet service. Give grace to employees whose connection is slow or unreliable. Check in with those that are unfamiliar with working remotely, try to ensure that any of the new tools designed to facilitate working from home isn’t having the opposite effect on productivity.
Mythos Technology is an IT consulting and management firm that provides Managed Technology Services including hosted cloud and compliance solutions. For more information, please visit www.mythostech.com or call (951) 813-2672.