If I had been asked a year ago what one thing would make my work/home life balance more enjoyable my answer would have been simple…flexible remote working. Fast forward a year and the impact of coronavirus and here I am, sat in my newly set up home office, in a very comfy jumper, drinking from my favorite coffee cup and gearing up to write about remote working tools.

It is no surprise that 99% of those currently working remotely would like to continue to do so at least part time for the rest of their careers. During the current COVID-19 pandemic you have probably discovered there are many benefits to working remotely; for you, your company and your workforce, here are some other impactful statistics

  • 77% of people say that working from home has improved their overall health and wellbeing
  • 85% of over 15,000 global businesses confirm that great location flexibility lead to an increase in productivity
  • 80% of people said that when faced with two similar jobs, they would turn down the one that did not offer flexible working conditions

So how can you equip your small business team with the right remote working tools to ensure that they can fulfill all aspects of their role…now and in the future? These are the types of tools your team is going to need.

1. Hardware

This is an essential starting point to establish your remote/home working set up. Ensure employees have a working desktop or laptop computer, reliable WiFi and a smartphone. This may sound basic, but it is the first step to getting started. Depending on their role there may be other things that are necessities, such as a printer, scanner, landline, etc. and with those things come expenses such as printer ink, paper, and more. If these devices are critical to their job you should provide and maintain them so that their change of location does not affect their ability to work.

2. Mobile Tools

When it comes to remote working tools, employees will rely heavily on mobile devices, tablets, and laptops. By integrating a mobile workflow strategy within your work processes you can offer more flexibility to your employees and increase efficiency. For example, you could deploy mobile-based apps that can work with or without WiFi.

3. Microsoft Office

The Office 365 suite including Word, Excel, Outlook, Teams, SharePoint, PowerPoint, etc, is practically mandatory for any office-based job. You probably use many features of the Office 365 platform already. And as Microsoft has embraced cloud technology, you can now log-in from anywhere. This means that regardless of your employees work location they can access the tools that they need.

4. Cloud Computing

Remote working employees love the benefits of cloud computing; it ensures a seamless experience for users, as well as security for the employer. Users can sign in from anywhere and essentially this functionality recreates their work environment in a virtual way. This all makes it a must-have remote working tool.

Cloud solutions are also scalable, meaning resources and functionality can increase as your company grows. They also eliminate the need for in-house IT personnel and infrastructure and therefore are a cost-effective solution. Most importantly a cloud-based solution ensures that users have access to all the information, files and documents they need regardless of their location.  

There are many choices of cloud computing platforms available, but top providers include Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Alibaba and Oracle Cloud.

5. Project Management Tools

Once you have established cloud computing, you can improve your employees’ ability to work together further by introducing cloud-based apps.  Examples of these could relate to; communication, project management, productivity/task management and collaboration. Tools like Microsoft Planner, Asana, Trello and monday.com, ensure that regardless of employees’ location they can communicate, collaborate and work through a project seamlessly.

6. Video Conferencing and Chat Platform

Staying in contact and being able to collaborate with colleagues is essential in order to effectively work remotely. With platforms like Microsoft Team, Zoom, Webex, Skype and Google Hangouts it is easier than ever to stay in touch and have regular ‘face-to-face’ meetings.

If traditionally, Monday starts with a full team meeting there is no reason why that cannot continue.  You might even be able to build in some added fun for your workforce by challenging them to come up with the best virtual background or incorporate your brand merchandise into their work set up.

Final thoughts…

For a lot of us, the arrival of COVID-19 may have been the catalyst that pushed us to become mobilized. But the benefits for you and your business could be long lasting. Seventy-six percent of workers said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options; so maybe now is the time to start to consider whether this approach is one that you can continue with.

Now is the time to choose the right remote working tools to ensure your small business remains ‘business as usual.’