How will your business get remote workers talking when they are out of the office?
The ability to telecommute, also called remote work, has grown between 2005 to 2018. Employees are either taking homework as they only visit the office part-time, or they may work exclusively from home. The 2018 American Community Service data showed that 3.6% of the United States workforce, roughly 5 million employees, work at home part-time or full time, according to Global Workplace Analytics.
Both employees and businesses are reaping the benefits. Workers are saving from $2,500 to $4,00 a year in commuting costs while increasing their work output. Employers are seeing a savings of $11,000 per year for each worker who telecommutes part-time. Keeping employees connected is paramount to maintain satisfactory productivity levels. Yet how do you maintain connectivity with your remote workers?
The lack of supervision, managerial support, and information are the top complaints voiced by both managers and remote workers. Technology such as Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Teams can help to promote further collaboration and communication without the need for remote workers to enter an office setting.
How Does Microsoft Office 365 Offer Robust Collaboration?
A factor to take into consideration when using technology to keep in touch with remote workers is how do you get everyone into the same app or platform while they are using different technologies. Some people will be using PCs, laptops, or tablets to provide work as they have different operating systems.
Microsoft Office 365 provides both online and offline tools that can be used on both Windows OS as well as Mac OS. Also, the app is available for PC, smartphones, and tablet devices. This suite of tools offers versatility as employees have access to Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneDrive, OneNote, and Outlook all in one software and cloud-based platform.
So both in-office and remote workers can use the platform from any device at any location in real-time. They have a communication hub that is entirely independent while keeping all information located in one application suite. There is no reason to download other 3rd-party applications when everything is available with just a point and a click.
What Happens When Sharing Files with Microsoft Office 365?
When using Microsoft Office 365, this cloud collaboration technology allows files to be shared directly through Excel, PowerPoint, and Word apps. Also, workers can send links through email or create a shareable link when the employee needs to provide information to others outside of the company infrastructure. Microsoft also offers SharePoint that can be integrated with the Office 365 suite. SharePoint offers:
- A centralized location where information is stored that simplifies information access, no matter where the employees are located.
- Provides a web-based document management and storage system that is highly configurable based on specific company needs
- Brings all employees together to spur collaboration without leaving anybody out of the system
Microsoft Office 365 provides more significant information sharing, whether it is with spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, or Word document files. The size of the company does not matter when accessing these technologies. Whether you are a small business with only ten employees or less or an enterprise organization with thousands of employees located around the world, each remote worker will have the same access to the information.
Yet, what about employees who shouldn’t have access to certain documents?
Like most technology suites, Microsoft Office 365 offers permissions to specify which employees will be able to open links to access information when it is stored in OneDrive or SharePoint. You can choose everyone in the organization to view the documents or restrict it to only people in the business or specific employees.
This feature provides an extra layer of security when working with remote employees who are using devices that cannot be supervised outside of the company environment. If a worker should lose their laptop, tablet, or phone somewhere, or they have the mobile devices stolen, you can remove that person’s permissions to the specified files and documents.
How to Create Face-to-Face Communication with Remote Workers?
While you can address information sharing with workers through various platform elements available in Microsoft Office 365, there is still the obstacle of bringing various workers together to communicate about work assignments, projects, or just to check on the status of ongoing projects. You would need a system that:
- Allows employees to communicate with anyone, whether a single team or multiple teams at once, without a loss of productivity
- Permits employers to check in on the progress of project teams and to offer managerial support when it is needed.
- Ensures that employees won’t miss important updates or notes when using different technologies and devices
To get over the communication hump that can be experienced when you have both in-office employees and remote workers, Microsoft Teams provides an effective collaboration structure for businesses. Microsoft Teams is a centralized platform that provides multiple ways for employees to communicate. Remote workers can get in touch with team members using conference calling, chat, or voice-calling based on their preferences.
With Microsoft Teams, an employee doesn’t have to designate “chat rooms” that require a specific number of people in attendance to function. They can invite as many people as necessary for the work project and communicate with them directly. Besides, remote workers can also have one-on-one communication with specific team members.
Are There Ways to Keep Track of the Ongoing Conversation?
One key obstacle that is faced when using conference calling, chat, or voice calling through a cloud-based platform is that the conversation can move quickly. Employees may want to go back through what was said to drill down on critical aspects of the meeting. With Microsoft Teams, remote workers can have access to previous communications so they can get caught up on what direction that project teams had decided to take with their work. They can jump into current conversations instantly with required information that other workers need in real-time to keep productive and lessen the amount of miscommunication that may occur.
How Can You Avoid Stiff Meetings to Keep Remote Workers Engaged?
Another critical issue that employees can experience is that the conversation can feel dull. There is nothing that keeps them engaged during the meeting, especially when other workers may be talking about something that doesn’t directly impact them. To improve remote worker engagement and to boost motivation, Microsoft Teams also provides the ability to add emoticons and GIFs to communications. These extras can make people feel more at ease, lighten the mood for meetings, and just build on camaraderie to maintain a positive work environment even when that environment is in the workers’ homes. Also, the features won’t detract from the conversation as the communication can keep moving forward smoothly.
Is There a Way to Help Employees Feel Like a Part of the Team?
Employees can quickly feel as if they are left out of the conversation. This issue can often happen during in-office meetings. Yet the feeling can be intensified for remote workers. Remote workers can do their jobs at different hours of the day and in different time zones. Trying to log in to a cumbersome system quickly can create delays, poor quality, and missing information. With Microsoft Teams, conversations can be scheduled or taken in real-time with as many available employees. Remote workers won’t feel left out of the line of communication and still get the necessary updates that they need to stay productive.
Since the remote worker may be a part of several different teams, they can use this Microsoft technology to jump into consolidated channels. They can contact one team member for an answer to a work question, send a message to a manager regarding a change in the project, and then have a real-time chat session with another team. All this collaboration can be accomplished on the employee’s schedule.
Another advantage to Microsoft Teams is that related notes and documents for each project session are kept separate. All the information isn’t grouped, which can make it a confusing and inefficient experience. Instead, the remote worker can see the documents that are relevant to the specific team. Also, over-writing data and documents are taken out of the equation with the Microsoft Office 365 and Teams technologies.
Gain Seamless Technology for a Seamless Work Environment
When making the migration to Microsoft Technologies and the Microsoft Office 365 suite, companies have to consider the initial training and software investments. Should you get so many different applications at one time? Will all remote workers buy-in to the new technology and use it to the fullest capabilities? What type of training will be necessary to get all employees at the same knowledge level to use the cloud-based platform effectively?
Every company is different. Some remote workers may use the Word application more than Excel or PowerPoint, or vice versa. The main benefit of having such a technology suite available is that remote employees can pick and choose the technologies that they most feel comfortable with while still adhering to the company’s requirements. There may also be a later time when remote workers will need to gain access to the other apps available in Microsoft Office 365 and Teams, as they will have the technology available instantly.
A lot of people already use Microsoft Office 365 in their daily lives. So making the jump over to using it for their business work will be seamless for them. Even if it is the first time that an employee is using this application suite, the software and functions are interactive and intuitive. They can quickly get to know the system, move around the interactive dashboards, and have everything integrated to where they won’t have to obtain separate software that cannot talk with each other. Also, many 3rd-party apps can work in sync with Microsoft technologies to further leverage these cloud-based systems and offer additional versatility and collaboration.
Another thing that can set you off on the right foot to boost collaboration for your remote workers is to reach out to them and learn about their home office setups. Find out what they have available and what they are lacking, then provide them with the cost-effective solutions that will help keep them engaged while out of the office. This method will help with the implementation and integration phases when migrating over to Microsoft technologies so all workers can be connected at the same time, so no employee gets left behind.
Here at K2 Technologies, we are a Microsoft solutions partner helping companies of all sizes. We offer the latest Microsoft cloud technologies so your company can always maintain contact with remote workers no matter where they are located in the world. Our extensive network of sales representatives, technical experts, support consultants, and training professionals are a part of the Microsoft Partner Network. This status means that our organization has the expertise that is recognized by the Microsoft corporation to offer businesses with the technical implementation and support that is needed for the customer to be successful.
K2 Technologies makes it a point to learn more about your organization’s technology infrastructure. Then we offer the right advice and IT support so that your company can make a smooth transition over to using Microsoft technologies. We don’t simply install the cloud-based system and leave it up to you to figure out. We provide comprehensive training programs and tools so that you can leverage all the Microsoft Office 365 and Team features to their fullest. We also understand how the total cost of ownership for Microsoft technologies can hamper individual small businesses. Our professional team can provide timely and valuable options that can help reduce your cost of ownership so that the cloud-based platform aligns with both your business structure and your budget.
With Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Teams provided by K2 Technologies, you can better connect and collaborate with your remote workers. If you are ready to make the migration over to these technology tools and platforms, then schedule a complimentary Microsoft Office 365 consulting session with a K2 Technologies Microsoft professional.