man working on laptop alone in grass field

How to stay connected with a remote workforce

Summary

Ways to keep your remote workforce engaged.

Time: 4 minute read
In 2020, the remote workforce dramatically expanded across the United States in response to the shutdowns.

The following Google Trends graph for the search term “videoconferencing” illustrates the point.

line graph of videoconferencing seach spike across the internet
 
There was 2020 going about its business – then zip! – March 2020 arrives and videoconferencing spikes as a search term. Why?

Because, as so many discovered quickly, staying in touch requires more than a smartphone.

Unexpected disruptions working from home with the kids, homeschooling, and dramatically changing customer needs made meeting with teams essential to stay focused and on task – wherever we were working.

To stay connected and meet and keep business moving, we needed more. So, video conferencing demand spiked.

Yet, research shows that meaningful communication and collaboration with a remote workforce can present a challenge. Quite simply, far too many remote workers don’t feel connected to their organizations. As a result, productivity and communication suffer.

To empower your workforce, you need tools specifically designed for collaboration to meet every employees’ unique and specific needs, even beyond basic videoconferencing.

​Sharing information is easy with remote collaboration tools that make use of the cloud. And it takes powerful tools like these, intended specifically for business communications, to make collaboration and project management over a long distance as interactive and productive as meeting in person.

​Sharing information is easy with remote collaboration tools that make use of the cloud. And it takes powerful tools like these, intended specifically for business communications, to make collaboration over long distance as interactive and productive as meeting in person.

man and woman on a video conference with another man and woman

Connect your team in a meaningful way

What makes business communication meaningful, productive, and effective? Generally, your employees need to:

  • Speak with, meet, and engage with employees and coworkers when needed
  • Work and collaborate with them in a way that makes everyone productive
  • Easily share information while keeping it secured.
  • Have visibility into project status and task assignment to ensure well-defined roles and responsibilities and stay productive

According to a survey of new and experienced remote workers in the U.S.,1 remote work, collaboration, and productivity don't always go smoothly.

  • Nearly 1/3 of workers reported that being away from the office diminishes their productivity
  • 45% of new remote workers said their sense of belonging suffers working at home
  • 2x more new remote workers find it more difficult to communicate and coordinate with coworkers than those who regularly work from home

Collaboration has gotten easier with a host of cloud applications and communication tools, but keeping your people productive and engaged remains a challenge, especially in our ever-evolving world of business.

But how can we do that?


 

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man on videoconference call

Videoconferencing

The March 2020 spike in videoconferencing searches makes this a no-brainer for where we start.

You can find a lot of videoconferencing tools on the market. Some are free. For a business though, you should investigate whether any of the communications tools you currently use offer videoconferencing.

Why? It’s easier to expand the use of a tool that employees are familiar with than get everyone using a new one. For example, if you use Microsoft 365™, you may have access to Teams™ or be able to easily expand your license to include it. This would reduce the learning curve more than introducing some new third-party platform, even if it were free.

With all the videoconferencing tools available today, it seems like video meetings should be a seamless and unexceptional way of getting work done. But in a KRC Research survey commissioned by Ricoh, more than 80 percent of workers did not agree that videoconferencing and real-time collaboration was “very easy” for them to do.

Using a video conferencing console that requires no special knowledge or complicated hookups to operate can help remove barriers to collaboration. all-in-one style tools, which can include everything from a camera to an address book, can be used both in the field and in the office — any room with an electrical outlet, really — providing the same level of connectivity no matter where they are.

And if we’re being honest with ourselves, videoconferencing is here to stay. We should approach it as a cost of doing business now and ensure it meets all your security and compliance requirements.

Cloud networking

Cloud networking and services make sharing, accessing, and communicating information simple. Employees can reach public cloud services for critical business tools like Outlook, file sharing like Dropbox™, or CRMs like Salesforce – anywhere they have an internet connection. Private clouds can be reached through a computer with an internet connection and a VPN.

For simplified cloud hosting, many companies turn to managed cloud services. To learn more about managed cloud services, check out our article “8 benefits of managed cloud services.”

Integrated end-user communication services

Videoconferencing and cloud applications and networking empower users. But there are other tools to consider as well to keep your remote workforce connected. Some of these are:


  • Voice over IP phones that give flexibility to your business phone system and ensure everyone gets their call, wherever they are.
  • Automated workflows via document management to keep processes moving and people productive.
  • Project management tools to organize material, manage due dates, adn keep everyone up to date and on task.
  • Virtual desktops that allow employees to access their business applications from anywhere.

You can read more about keeping your business connected and secure in our article, “Provide secured remote access to employees while balancing IT costs.

 

Engage your remote workforce and stay connected

Sometimes, it can be easy to think that remote and mobile workers have what they need. The best way to be sure is to ask them because if they don’t, productivity and collaboration suffer.

Whether you’re expanding your remote workforce or seeking to better equip the one you have, you need to give direction and support. This requires you to organize, equip, and empower with scalable technologies that bring everyone together, just as if you were in an office.

If you’re not sure where to start, create a survey and have your people fill it out. It's a great way to identify their greatest pain points. You may well find that the challenges facing your remote workers are the same as those facing employees who work in the office.

Fortunately, technology today makes it possible to connect your teams wherever they are working.

Have questions or need a solution to make your business-friendly for remote workers? Contact us. Our experts and consultants are here and ready to help.


 
 

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1https://slackhq.com/report-remote-work-during-coronavirus