Employees have already staked a claim on the future of remote work. With 98% of millennial employees wanting to work from home at least some of the time, reported benefits range from lower stress to enhanced productivity and motivation. As a team leader, however, the complexities of managing a remote workforce can seem daunting. This is where technology can help your hybrid and remote teams unleash new forms of collaboration unrestrained by office walls.
The benefits and challenges of remote work
In 2020, remote work went from a niche benefit to a mandated lifestyle. Hunkering down in a background of quarantines and lockdowns, many workers’ first experience of WFH was all but pleasant. Despite this, a new model of success began to develop out of Teams meetings and collaborative documents. Throughout the year, employees proved themselves with a 47% increase in productivity. With home-working removing the distractions of commuting and office politics, employees quickly took to this new form of employment.
Despite the data, there are valid concerns held by managers and team members alike. With workers spread across bedrooms, cafes, and private coworking spaces, keeping everyone on the same page now requires more than a daily in-person meeting. Employees were the first to notice this: almost 60% of remote workers now note that communication with colleagues has changed post-pandemic. Failing to keep abreast of this change can result in isolation, disconnect, and even burnout.
4 WFH challenges that technology helps solve
Sustaining happy, healthy, and productive teams can be one of the greatest challenges in WFH setups. Even worse, without a remote-supported communication flow, issues can go undetected for too long. Digging deeper into each challenge, here’s how you can support remote employees on their own terms.
Effective communication is paramount for employees working from home. It’s the cornerstone of remote collaboration, fostering teamwork, and maintaining productivity. Clear and consistent communication bridges WFH’s physical distance; from daily or weekly updates to transparent discussions, the following technology creates a solid foundation of open teamwork.
Project management tools have undergone some serious evolution in the last few years: solutions such as Monday.com form a foundation of easy collaboration by consolidating all communications and files; this simplifies cross-team collaboration significantly. The hassle of missing emails and chasing down freelancers is drastically reduced. Other project management offerings, such as Wrike, come packaged with robust analytics capabilities, which makes it an ideal choice for larger teams or intricate timelines. Leveraging the built-in Report Wizard, you can efficiently keep stakeholders informed or opt to craft custom reports tailored to your specific data requirements from the ground up.
Finally, Smartsheet offers a project management tool built on the foundation of spreadsheets. This not only facilitates project tracking but also serves as a unified reference point for all project participants. A standout feature is its customizable version control and approval procedures. For intricate projects – where multiple stakeholders are often collaborating on one asset – Smartsheet removes any potential confusion around the latest document version. This is achieved by establishing a unique proof for each row in your sheet, creating a review process that’s heavily tailored. This ensures clarity and efficiency that aligns seamlessly with your workflow.
One of the most popular project management solutions, Slack, offers a hub of collaboration that connects people, teams, and tasks. Text-based chat isn’t the only way employees can stay up-to-date, with audio and video clips supported for every department, no matter the location or time zone. Within Slack, communication is structured through the use of “channels,” facilitating organized discussions.
Twist is an alternative to Slack that prioritizes efficient communication for teams that work asynchronously. When you start a new direct message, Twist tells you not to expect an immediate response. After all, it claims, teams are more productive when members can disconnect to focus. Unlike Slack, Twist’s channels each function as distinct topics. This setup mirrors the structure of email threads: an initial email message initiates a conversation, and this continues for as long as other participants respond to the initial message. This helps reduce Slack’s habit of every channel accruing dozens of messages that slowly wander off-topic.
Document sharing and storage
Google Drive stands out as a user-friendly document storage solution, enabling effortless cloud uploads from your desktop or device. It maintains robust security measures, facilitates real–time collaboration, and provides a generous amount of free storage.
For enterprises reliant on the Office 365 suite, Microsoft OneDrive for Business offers seamless integration with programs like Word and Teams. However, it’s worth noting its inability to integrate with third-party apps like calendar and messaging applications, which might be a drawback for some users.
Video conferencing promotes interaction throughout your team and beyond, serving as a versatile tool for spontaneous meetings, new team members’ onboarding, and performance evaluations. The ability to observe participants’ facial expressions enhances communication, fostering a deeper sense of connection within teams.
Zoom is one of the most accessible video conferencing tools on the market. The free version of Zoom is often enough for many smaller-scale organizations, with the time limit capped to 40 minutes per session. Its capacity for large-scale meetings is unmatched, offering participant numbers of up to 1,000. Teams is another highly popular option; as a Microsoft offering, it integrates quickly and smoothly with other 365 programs. Its messaging feature also helps keep teams and meetings in the loop outside of video sessions.
While technology offers vast swathes of new and exciting options for fully remote teams, it’s vital to keep all employees in the loop – especially in increasingly hybrid setups. Products such as Lifesize provide hardware for video conferencing endpoints alongside a cloud video platform. This lends the same connectivity and collaboration to in-office teams, leaving no team member behind.
2. Rapid tech rollouts
As technology helps employees connect and unlock greater efficiency, it becomes even more vital to keep all systems up and running. However, managing the influx of new systems can place new demands on an IT team. Navigating these requires an up-to-date understanding of endpoint and system management software.
Make rollouts efficient
Remote work demands a new approach to rolling out technologies. Helpdesk staff can no longer install and configure this themselves – a fact that’s sorely missed when the inevitable influx of end-user installation tickets comes rolling in.
Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software takes the responsibility of installation off the shoulders of employees. Instead, IT can directly install and manage applications remotely. Covering everything from individual devices to entire departments, this process significantly reduces the time and energy spent on support tickets. With new software installed correctly, custom alerts can keep you in the loop regarding ongoing installation and support demands.
Lean and efficient IT teams can now be granted the tools to proactively address endpoint issues. NinjaOne’s RMM software commits to helpdesk efficiency even further: automating the deployment of software updates and firmware upgrades ensures that remote workers’ focus can remain fixed on their tasks.
Finally, NinjaOne doesn’t just support your teams as they gain new forms of efficiency: it also provides a single platform through which remote teams can securely and easily gain access to their on-premises workstations.
3. Lightning-fast support
Even in an organization that’s automated away updates and installations, issues can still occur. A recent report by Unisys Corp revealed that, in 2022, IT issues wasted up to 5 hours per week for 49% of employees. The lost employee hours – alongside unrealized revenue – makes rapid tech support one of the highest priorities within a remote workforce. Without a robust toolkit, IT technicians can be left fumbling in time-critical situations. Sysadmins at the Sofia Group were even relying on manual checkups of individual servers, one by one. During a period of rapid acquisitions, this wasted time was quickly accruing.
Take a new look at your tech surface
In-person tech support places a number of restrictions on the technicians’ capability to support employees. For instance, in established office environments, traveling to and from a problematic endpoint or server can eat up a significant number of hours. Remote tech support is one area that thrived throughout the WFH revolution – all of a sudden, IT teams were unbound from any geographical limitations.
However, not all remote support is built equal. A critical component of remote work is the ability to visualize each device’s location within its broader network. Thanks to today’s explosion in network connectivity, this has never been more difficult. The traditional approach asks IT technicians to deploy a probe and run scans throughout the network in order to discover endpoints. This itself presents a major time-consumer. NinjaOne saved Metis Technology 15 minutes per device by equipping them with the ability to automatically pull every device from a requested domain.
With any device added to the system in one click, IT analysts are freed up to rapidly respond to issues. Remote access solutions allow tech support access to the problematic device – directly from the ticket. The employee is kept in the loop with either live messaging or real-time voice chat via platforms like Teamviewer and Connectwise.
4. Future-proof cybersecurity
Remote cybersecurity is an opportunity for companies to align every facet of their attack surface with cloud native security. However, many organizations are still relying solely on unoptimized firewalls.
Patch before crisis
Unpatched applications and operating systems are one of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to compromise your team’s devices. This allows corporate data to fall into the wrong hands; for smaller organizations, the cost of this can be irreparable. NinjaOne’s patch management solution is cloud-based and agent-deployed – meaning you can patch any endpoint that has an internet connection. Alongside this, NinjaOne’s RMM tool allows IT to configure and enforce security across your entire techstack.
When H.E.R.O.S, a helicopter engineering firm, was struck by ransomware, they thought their 3 backups were safe. Relying on local, cloud, and NinjaOne-hosted backups, their recovery process was halted by an uncomfortable discovery: both their local and cloud backups had been compromised during the attack. The only safe backup was their NinjaOne: in 4 days, their entire computer network was restored and back online.
Support your remote teams today
Remote work offers organizations the opportunity to unlock new levels of efficiency and employee trust. However, it also demands a new approach to keep employees supported and thriving during the transitional period and beyond. Whether your team is working hard at home or in the office, see how NinjaOne’s RMM can supercharge your IT efficiency in just a few clicks.