Telecommuting has been on the rise even before the lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For starters, heavy traffic, daily expenses, and other commitments are driving both employers and workers to consider remote work. And, now, with health risks, it has become more imperative to stay at home.
But, the transition from an in-office to a home-based setup is not as smooth for everyone. How do you communicate with your colleagues? How would you ensure that you are still productive? Is it possible to work remotely full-time?
There are several telecommuting strategies that you can follow to make the transition easier. To continue performing your role, make sure that you have the best technology for working remotely. The future of work is here. And you need to be ready.
The last few decades have seen crucial changes in attitudes towards work. More employees want a work-life balance over a higher salary or career advancements. For example, around 80% of American workers turned down jobs that did not offer flexible working options. Consequently, working remotely has become the best solution.
Telecommuting does not only benefit employees; around 85% of companies report an increase in productivity among employees who have worked remotely. Increased morale, better job satisfaction, and healthier employees contribute to more efficient operations. As such, organizations now have programs that allow employees to work out of the office full-time or partially.
As a result, about 16 million Americans now work from home. That is, about 16% of the total US workforce now can work remotely at least partially. They have the option to telecommute on select days of the week. Alternatively, a part of the company’s team exclusively works out of the office. This also opens the organization to accept talents from other states or overseas.
Having the option to work at home is a great opportunity. Many employees believe that working remotely would make them healthier (77%) as well as experience less stress (86%). But, to be productive in this set-up takes a lot of preparation. There are different ways to get distracted, as well. Here are a couple of tips to get yourself ready.
Ideally, a dedicated home office will give you the space to focus on work. Granted, not everyone is blessed with a large house with spare rooms, but that doesn’t mean this is not doable.
A dedicated workspace just means setting boundaries. It could be your kitchen table that turns into office space during work hours. Or, a quiet corner with your laptop works as well. Some people love working in cafes or similar places. Also, coworking spaces are available in many areas.
At its most basic form, a workspace is an area with minimal distractions such as pets, kids, television, and more. You may need complete silence or the buzz of the day-to-day noise to concentrate. This is where you can get creative with the options that you have.
Some organizations require their staff to work within a specific schedule. In this case, it is easy to set aside time to work. However, most telecommute set-ups also allows for flexibility in work hours. Make sure that you are separating your home life from your work by deciding on a specific time.
Setting-up specific time blocks allow your mind to transition from rest to being productive. It is especially necessary during your first weeks at home. Also, share your work schedule with your family, especially your kids. It ensures that they will not interrupt your meetings or during important work.
Of course, the essentials of working remotely are your hardware and software. If you are lucky enough, your company will provide you with a laptop and other accessories that you need. But, it is highly likely that you will have to source your own tools.
Knowing what you need to accomplish during work hours and having the right machine is essential. You do not want to struggle with a slow computer the entire day. Additionally, if you need to answer calls, a decent headset is a great investment. If your work involves mostly graphic design, a drawing table is essential to make sure that you are productive.
On the other hand, your computer is useless without the necessary software installed. Fortunately, this article lists all the top applications that you will need to have a productive day.
Slack is a messaging application that centralizes all your communication channels. It includes real-time messages, voice, and video calls. The communication platform is developed for dynamic teams across different locations. It is available to Web, PC, Mac, and mobile devices.
The platform allows you to instantly search through your past conversations. Moreover, it lets you save important messages for easy access. It also makes it easy to share images, documents, and other files. These are even organized in a searchable storage space that can be filtered, however you want.
The messaging app is also extensible. You can integrate more than 1,500 apps and services. That means you can incorporate Slack in your existing tools and workflows. You can install Google Drive, Dropbox, GitHub, and much more. Additionally, you can receive relevant notifications from these apps.
Detailed Slack Review
Zoom is perfect if you are attending and conducting a lot of meetings throughout the day. Video conferencing is the closest thing to face-to-face interaction. You can easily invite participants to your meeting rooms in just a few clicks.
Aside from holding meetings, you can conduct online training, webinars, online classes, and more. You can even interact with your participants within the platform. Furthermore, you can mute and unmute panelists to ensure a streamlined conference.
Zoom functions as a unified hub for calling, instant messaging, and video conferencing needs. With it, you can receive phone calls from clients and turn them into Zoom Meetings without hanging up. Additionally, you can share content, send messages, and integrate third-party apps.
Detailed Zoom Review
Of course, Slack and Zoom are only two of the most popular platforms for online communication. There are still plenty of reliable options on the market that you should consider before you settle on a particular solution. To help you expand your options, be sure to check our list of best communication systems.
Trello is built around enhanced collaboration, monitoring, and tracking. It uses Kanban-style boards, cards, and lists to manage your team’s tasks and projects. Also, the system can categorize boards into projects for better organization. With it, you can manage resources, projects, and even discussions.
The platform’s power centers on powerful collaboration and teamwork. You can assign cards to any of your team members and track their progress. The user-friendly layout makes it easy to add comments, attach files, set due dates, and more.
Trello can also automate many parts of your workflow and create triggers, calendar commands, and more. These will eliminate tedious tasks to allow your team to focus on more important things. Just like many of the software in this list, Trello’s functionality can be extended through its Power-Ups. Thousands of apps can be added to make the application much more powerful.
Wrike is an online project management platform developed for highly connected teams. It’s perfect for marketing, creative industries, and other professional services that require a lot of attention to detail. You can run your entire business using this software without missing even the smallest tasks.
Its strength lies in its commitment to collaborative work management. Its customizable dashboards allow you to show all relevant information to your team. You can increase visibility using real-time reports and progress right in one place.
Wrike also allows you to simplify your planning and collaboration. Its centralized communication channels ensure that all team members are on the same page. See what your team is up to using the Activity Stream. You can even call someone’s attention using @mention.
Surely, Trello and Wrike offer some comprehensive tools for collaboration. However, it’s still possible that these are unable to support your unique workflow. If this is the case, feel free to browse other options in this compilation of leading collaboration software.
G Suite is perfect for organizations that are already using Google products. It centralizes all apps in one business suite to ensure productivity. Aside from popular apps, you will have access to Currents and Hangouts for company-wide and personal communication.
Additionally, all your documents are in one place with Google Drive and Docs. It also saves the company time and money from using independent software. You can even automate various steps in your workflow using App Script. Because everything lives in the cloud, all you need is a browser to get started.
If you are a manager, G Suite also includes apps that allow you to manage devices, users, and data. Using Admin, Endpoint, and Vault, you have control over various company assets. Also, Work Insights will ensure that you know everyone’s productivity even when working remotely.
Detailed G Suite Review
If you need a platform that can run an entire enterprise, Zoho One fits the bill. It dubs itself as an operating system for businesses. The entire platform is composed of App, Services, and Platform Layers. This unique approach to SaaS makes it easy for the solution to adapt to unique operational needs.
It includes apps so you can run your core operations, sales, and human resources. You can also monitor and manage customer support and marketing endeavors. It even includes an entire suite of software for accounting.
Zoho One is not only for large enterprises. The solution provider also offers Zoho One for Startups and Zoho One for Small Businesses. These app environments are tailored to the specific needs of such businesses.
There are plenty of solutions that can help you reinforce productivity while working from home. That said, you shouldn’t limit yourself with just these two platforms. After all, while they offer best-in-class solutions, it doesn’t mean that they’re the best fit for your company. So, to help you out, check out our extensive list of productivity tools.
monday.com is one of the true examples of Work OS in the market. The entire platform functions beyond your typical project management software. It is composed of building blocks that you can mix and match to create unique apps. This flexibility makes the solution the most adaptable out there.
The platform is available on the cloud. That means you can run your entire organization without ever installing another application. You can create apps for various teams in your company. It is easy to develop workspaces for your marketing, IT, HR, and sales teams.
Additionally, monday.com allows you to automate various steps in your workflow. You do not even have to learn how to code. It is easy to add code-free automation to your boards. This also eliminates human error for better output. With these features, this platform is one of the best tools for managing remote workers.
If you need a more streamlined solution, opt for Asana. The work management platform makes it easy for you and your team to focus on deliverables and goals. You can also focus on your members’ progress in just a few clicks.
You can start by creating a project in Asana. Then, add all the members and stakeholders in the workspace. Each project comes with List, Timeline, Board, Calendar, and Progress. Having these various types of views allows you to see the bigger picture. You can also monitor the progress of each task and member.
Aside from those, the platform also incorporates Forms, Files, and Conversations. Having all these in one place enhances team collaboration. Start discussions, collect work requests, and more without leaving the project space.
Detailed Asana Review
If you feel like neither of these project management tools fit your current work setup, don’t worry. There are still plenty of other solutions you can explore starting with these 20 best online project management software.
Accountability is important when working remotely. Hence, it is important to ensure that your team members are working during the set schedule. Toggl is a user-friendly time tracking application that your members can use. Its layout was designed to be as seamless as possible.
It is popular among freelancers, small businesses, and self-employed professionals. Users can easily add tasks and begin tracking their work in a few clicks. It also includes a project dashboard for better organization. For freelancers, it is easy to generate reports and invoices. You can even set billable hours for each task.
Detailed Toggl Review
BigTime is a powerful time tracking tool that incorporates various functionalities for businesses. It incorporates billing features so you can easily update your clients and stakeholders. Additionally, generating invoices is quite easy and can be done in just a few clicks.
Aside from time tracking, it can also monitor expenses, earnings, resources, and much more. The accompanying dashboard makes it easy to see important information at a glance. You can see how your team’s productivity is faring. Also, you can see which of your projects need more attention.
Should you want to find similar software that would fit your requirements better or fall within your budget, you can always take a look at some of the other time tracking solutions on the market.
Before you consider any of the tools described above, it is best to evaluate your current workflow. It may work in an office environment. But, working remotely presents unique challenges.
Keep in mind that you want to maintain the same level of transparency and accountability among your team members. That is why it is important to always keep in touch using communication and collaboration apps, especially if your team is just starting to learn how to work remotely. Additionally, ensure quality outputs with project management and productivity platforms. Also, time management software will see to it that everyone is working at their best capacity.
Of course, aside from finding the best technology for working remotely, there are also different best practices that you might want to consider. That said, be sure to take a look at our guide to working from home. With this, you’ll get helpful tips on how to set up your office space as well as what to expect as you transition from office-based work.
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