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How to stay in touch with off-site workers

by Julia Stuhltrager
 
Out of sight, out of mind? Staying in touch with remote workers requires more than just a smartphone.

With schedules as demanding as ours, it’s a great comfort to know that travel days can still be work days. In today’s fast-paced business world, workers simply don’t have the time to be out of touch with their coworkers. We have to have access to information whenever we need it, whether at the office or working remotely.

 

It’s the same with any remote or traveling worker. But while most people carry smartphones in their pocket, the research shows that meaningful communication and collaboration with off-site workers is not all that common or easy. To put it simply, far too many remote workers don’t feel connected to their organizations. And they fear becoming irrelevant as a result — out of sight, out of mind.

 

In the new world of work, you need more than a smartphone to connect workers in a meaningful way. If you want to empower your mobile workforce, you need tools specifically designed for collaboration and for these workers’ unique needs.

​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.

Not truly connected

What does it mean to be connected? It means being able to get in touch with the people you need to get in touch with, to work and collaborate with them, and to easily share information. But according to a survey of 500 remote workers in the U.S.,1 this sort of connection isn’t all that easy:

 

  • 84 percent said that working remotely means they can’t collaborate effectively
  • 43 percent claimed they lack the information they need to complete their work
  • 54 percent reported that being away from the office diminishes their productivity

Mobile and remote workers are predicted to comprise 37.2 percent of the global workforce this year.2 If they’re not getting what they need as a matter of course, then companies need to put special effort into meeting those needs. How can they do that?

 

Communication and collaboration in a mobile world

When meeting with your team in the same room is impossible, meeting over video is the next best thing. With all the videoconferencing tools available today, it seems like video meetings by now 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. And if technology isn’t easy to use, it isn’t all that useful.

That’s why unified communications tools are so vital for connecting a remote workforce. Using a videoconferencing console that requires no special knowledge or complicated hookups to operate can help remove barriers to collaboration. These 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 you are. A truly business-ready solution will even allow workers to connect to these meetings using just their phones.
 
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.

It seems as though companies take for granted that remote and mobile workers have what they need. Not only is this not the case, but when productivity and collaboration suffers as a result, it’s a misunderstanding with pretty significant consequences.

When you’re building a team, you don’t just send them off somewhere with no direction or support. You organize, equip and direct them to fulfill a certain purpose. Are you organizing, equipping and directing all your workers the same way, including those remote and mobile? Or do they lack what they need to truly stay in touch? Has being out of sight left them out of mind?

Communication and collaboration in a mobile world

Organize, equip and direct your remote workforce.
 
Julia Stuhltrager
Julia Stuhltrager, Senior Manager, Channel Marketing, Ricoh USA, Inc., has more than 10 years in the information and document management industry. She supports the global and national sales organization with the development and implementation of marketing strategies, campaigns, programs and sales tools that target Global 500 and Fortune 1000 organizations across industries and verticals.
 
 
1 Business News Daily. 13 June 2012
2 eWeek. 6 January 2012