How to Use Tech to Bridge the Gap for Remote Workers


How to Use Tech to Bridge the Gap for Remote Workers

Telework, or working from home, is on the rise. The benefits of doing so are vast, and everyone is starting to see it — especially some of the biggest employers out there. Companies like Amazon, Dell, IBM, Apple and more now allow their employees to log hours from home.

One Global Workplace Analytics report reveals the telecommuting industry grew by 80% from 2005. That is a massive jump, and it just proves that workers — and employers — are truly embracing the idea of telework.

This is possible because of modern technology. More specifically, there are a wide variety of modern tech tools that allow workers to remain off-site.

Why Telecommuting? What’s the Big Deal?

The benefits are numerous, which is why the industry is growing.

For starters, it saves money for everyone involved. Workers save money because they don’t have to commute — and waste gas — and employers save money because they don’t have to pay for an office space. That includes bills to maintain a work environment, such as water, sewer, trash and most importantly, power and internet.

Plus, an overwhelming majority of telecommuters are more productive. They are also less likely to take time off work, even when they are sick or suffering from a health ailment. This is obviously because they are able to work from the comfort of their home.

A survey on collaborative work shows 77 percent of telecommuters report greater productivity while offsite.

Finally, employers have access to a much larger candidate pool when hiring teleworkers. Because employees can work from anywhere using modern tech, there’s no reason to restrict a search to candidates in the local area. This means employers have access to a larger pool of workers who may also be of higher quality.

That’s Great, But What Tools Make This Possible?

Of course, all this information is great to hear, but it doesn’t help you if you’re looking to turn your workforce into a remote one.

Believe it or not, the tools that make such a thing possible are largely tech-oriented. Remote work definitely requires the appropriate hardware, including a viable computer, unfettered access to the internet and a variety of software.

To bridge the gap between remote workers and your site, technology is key. Not only will you need specific forms of telecommunications equipment from quality providers on site, but you’ll also need to provide software access to your remote workers — which sometimes means paying for a service subscription for one of the nine tools listed below:

1. HighSpeed Internet. The one constant to doing anything remote, is open access to the internet. With it, you can tap in from anywhere, even another country. Access is necessary for both your worksite and your workers. Most likely, your workers will maintain their own internet access, so you just need to worry about access for your main sites.

2. Remote Desktop Applications. A lot can be done over the internet these days, thanks to cloud technology. Sometimes, however, you still need access to a remote computer. This is primarily for folks who do both — spend time in-office and at home. Remote Desktop applications allow workers to log in to their work machine from somewhere else entirely. Once logged in, they have full access to their machine including all applications, files and accounts.

3. Virtual Private Network (VPN). When you have multiple remote workers tapping into a corporate or company-wide network, it poses a security risk. Using a VPN — or Virtual Private Network — is a must. A VPN will encrypt each session, sending all data via a secure tunnel. This ensures sensitive information, data or activities are protected from unscrupulous parties. Client-based VPNs are considered more secure, as only authorized machines — with the appropriate software installed — can access a network remotely.

4. Desktop Virtualization Client. Desktop Virtualization technology allows servers to perform the actual work. In other words, workers can tap in to the environment from any device — including a laptop or mobile device — and the Desktop Virtualization system handles all the heavy lifting. This is possible because the work is being offloaded to powerful servers, which are then transmitting the image — or streaming it — to a remote device. This allows anyone to work remotely, even if they don’t have a powerful enough computer or device. It also gives your IT team full control over what software, applications, and updates are running on your systems.

5. VOIP /IP Telephone Services. Voice-Over-IP or VOIP services allow folks to communicate with one another over the internet, just as they would with a telephone. The most popular VOIP client is Skype, but it’s not the only one. An IP or VOIP client is loaded onto the remote machine, and it can tap into a larger (corporate) infrastructure for communication. This allows managers and remote workers to communicate via voice, as opposed to instant messaging, email or text.

6. Video Conferencing Software. Please keep in mind that this is not the same as VOIP services, but some services like Skype and Hangouts do include video conferencing features built-in so you get the best of both worlds. Video conferencing software obviously allows teams to communicate face-to-face remotely. This can be done via mobile or computers, but the latter will require web-cams — though many laptops include a built-in webcam for communication.

7. Project Management Tools. To organize work and tasks across a large team, you’ll need to rely on project management software like Asana. It’s pretty straightforward. It allows you to assign duties to different workers and keep track of deadlines.

8. Collaboration Software. You’ll need access to collaborative tools like Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, GotoMeeting and Web-Ex. This allows team members to share the work they are doing and other members to edit and collaborate with them. For example, with Google Docs and Microsoft Office someone can begin working on a spreadsheet, and then a teammate can hop in and make edits or finish the job. Tools like this are great when you have workers who share responsibilities.

9. Cloud Computing. Cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive are a great example of this technology. They allow workers to store files in the cloud and access them remotely from anywhere, with any device. In this way, they can continue working on the same document no matter where they are. But this technology isn’t just limited to files and documents. Desktop as a Service (DaaS) tools can be used to deliver a virtual desktop network similar to what we described in the virtualization client section above. Cloud computing essentially allows you to access content stored remotely on a server.

Remote Work Is the New Norm

Remote work will soon become a staple of modern work life, aided directly by the technologies discussed here. About 34% of business leaders believe that by 2020, over half of their company’s employees will be remote.

Without this tech, remote work just wouldn’t be possible. So if you want to take advantage of this new business opportunity, it’s time to get on board and start using the technology that goes with it.

About the Author:

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a career and happiness blog. As a freelance writer, Sarah enjoys writing about a variety of topics from career and business to healthy living. Catch her on Twitter@SarahLandrum for more great advice.

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