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The 4 Tools Your Remote Workers Need to Boost Productivity

The 4 Tools Your Remote Workers Need to Boost Productivity

The transition to remote work for many offices in 2020 was a welcome opportunity for employees who enjoyed working from home. Of course, this change required accommodations from understanding employers and patience from management. Survey data from Fluxon shows that half of all workers have

The transition to remote work for many offices in 2020 was a welcome opportunity for employees who enjoyed working from home. Of course, this change required accommodations from understanding employers and patience from management. Survey data from Fluxon shows that half of all workers have experienced technology issues while operating remotely.

Business owners accepted the limitations and expected these hiccups knowing that bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchen islands were converted into makeshift home offices. After all, most office workers assumed this was a temporary measure, so they made do with short-term workarounds.

While some employers have since re-opened their offices, others are considering a hybrid option, which means that employees can work remotely for a few days each week and come into the office on the other days. Others may indefinitely decide to stay virtual. When Canadians were asked, “What’s your ideal scenario for your work environment?”, their answers were split.

  • 20 per cent want to work entirely at their workplace.

  • 17 per cent want to work mostly at their workplace.

  • 29 per cent want a hybrid model, in which they work half at the workplace, half remotely.

  • 22 per cent want to work mostly remotely.

  • 12 per cent want to work entirely remotely.

Among businesses that offer remote work, it’s important to consider the permanent needs of their off-site employees in order to boost productivity, help employees work comfortably, and safeguard data.

Below, we explore four major types of tools remote workers can use to continue or improve their overall work performance, as well as emulate the same security measures available in corporate offices.

1. Cloud Collaboration Suite

Between documents, presentations, spreadsheets, images, and more, teams share a lot of assets throughout the week. Managing everything gets easier with a cloud collaboration suite that allows teams to access shared folders and simultaneously work within the same files. The latter is especially important to maintain version control and ensure everyone’s operating within a master document. Some collaboration suites also include chat and web conferencing tools so employees can instant message each other or initiate a call.

In organizations that haven’t mandated specific collaboration tools for everyone to use, employees have likely adopted a patchwork of software and tools to make working remotely easier. It’s management’s job, however, to identify the right cloud computing platforms their teams need and standardize that to streamline collaboration and minimize security risks. This makes it seamless to train everyone on the shared tech stack, and there’s no adoption curve later when files are distributed internally. Quip, as a collaboration software example, integrates directly with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms such as Salesforce so your team can securely collaborate in the cloud.

Centralized repositories for sales collateral, customer insights, product information, and more can help employees across all departments including enterprise sales, marketing, design, engineering, and customer service. The scalable nature of cloud tools also ensures employees never have to increase the storage space on their computer to support volumes of data transfer. Plus, for remote workers, cloud software is more secure for organizational files versus local storage in a physical hard drive that roommates, children, or curious family members could access if they use your work computer.

2. Computer Diagnostic Tools and Antivirus Software

To equip workers with the right office hardware, some companies gift or loan computers to employees. In other instances, staff operates with their personal machines.

At offices, the IT department usually steps in to make sure devices are functioning as they should and without any unwanted programs. When working remotely, this benefit may not be available; employees might have to service the computers they’re using themselves. As time goes on, regardless of how advanced your workstation is or how technologically savvy you are, application bloat — with programs that run in the background and slow your processing speeds — as well as file overload can degrade a computer’s performance.

Businesses should consider licensing diagnostic tools for their employees to use. Ideally, employees would set the diagnostic programs to periodically run scans and share reports and optimization recommendations. When paired with an advanced antivirus software, businesses protect their employees and themselves from malware, spyware, and other malicious activity.

The statistics on malware are alarming.

  • Over 1 billion malware programs exist, and 560,000 new pieces of malware are spotted each day.

  • Ransomware impacts four companies every single minute.

Ultimately, companies that take preventative measures seriously, especially when employees work remotely, reduce their risk of data breaches or cyber security issues. Furthermore, 94 per cent of companies that switched to cloud-based software say they saw an improvement in security after the switch.

3. WiFi Boosters & Range Extenders

For many households, shared spaces have transformed into coworking and online learning areas. Throughout the day, employees may find themselves hopping between the guest room, couch, kitchen island, or even the closet in order to get a change of scenery and find a comfortable and quiet space. As nice as the flexibility is, one limitation of these home setups is that the WiFi signal throughout a home can vary, with slow or unusable internet in some areas.

To overcome this issue, consider providing your employees with a WiFi booster or range extender. This serves to expand the WiFi signal’s reach and strength so employees can access high-speed Internet in any part of their house.

Four features to look for in WiFi boosters are:

  • Coverage distance

  • Supported speed levels

  • Dual bandwidth capability

  • Available security settings

4. Distraction-Disabling Apps

News sites, social media platforms, messaging apps, and inbox notifications can be distracting and overwhelming. Sometimes, they offer a much-needed break during busy work days. Generally though, even a glance at the latest headlines can break your focus and stride. Many professionals have high levels of self-control, but even exercising restraint can be taxing, especially because 63 per cent of the workforce uses their mobile devices for work tasks as much as for personal tasks.

Unplanned work-related discussions are a major time commitment, too. A 2018 survey of working professionals summarized in Harvard Business Review found that “40 per cent of the respondents reported experiencing more than 10 interruptions per day, with 15 per cent reporting more than 20 interruptions a day.” That’s from work-related topics alone, nevermind the personal distractions that might pop up. The more employees can guard themselves against irrelevant topics or low-priority discussions, the more productive they can be.

Instead of relying on willpower, companies can recommend apps and plugins that team members can install to block access to certain sites during specific periods of the day. These apps can also prompt scheduled times to actually take a break and indulge in non-work related websites. Managers do not necessarily have to mandate specific settings, but can encourage any parameters that employees may find advantageous in balancing break times with focused work periods.

Closing Thoughts

While companies have a standard need for secure and reliable technology, remote employees also need tools that can help simulate the in-office experience, regardless of if they work from their secure home internet connection or from publicly available WiFi.

Home and mobile office set-ups offer a lot of flexibility, but are often missing several crucial things that may make it harder or more tedious for employees to complete a task. That’s why it’s up to management to implement a cloud collaboration suite that everyone can adopt and use exclusively. Without an in-person IT team to help resolve computer issues, diagnostic tools and antivirus programs make it easier for off-site computers to run faster and virus-free. Then, other technology like WiFi boosters and distraction-disabling apps ensure employees can work quickly and effectively with minimal downtime.

In authorizing ongoing work-from-home opportunities, leadership is still responsible for helping employees access the tools they need to be effective and productive, no matter where they work.

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