How to find the best tools and equipment for efficient remote work?
While there have always been companies with employees who work remotely, it was not considered a particularly ‘mainstream’ way to work before the pandemic. With Covid-19 sweeping the globe, governments locked down countries and people were sent home from the office. Where possible, companies transitioned their employees to remote work. And in many cases, companies had to come up with ways to carry out work remotely that would previously have been deemed impossible.
This meant that over the time we were all forced to adapt to a new way of life, we also had to adapt to new ways of working. It turned out, when we ironed out the creases, that it was not necessarily as difficult or as unproductive as we might have expected. And now the pandemic has eased and we are no longer in a lockdown scenario, remote and hybrid work has turned into something that many employees both want and expect. Companies, on the other hand, are not always so keen.
Not all sectors are ideal for remote work. Not all jobs can be done remotely. However, in cases where remote work is possible, employers should get on board with it. If organizations wish to stay relevant and to continue to attract the best talent, making remote or hybrid work an option is something that should be seriously considered. All you need is the right collaborative tools and equipment to ensure you are getting the most out of your employees, and your employees are getting the most out of their jobs.
How did the pandemic shape the need for seamless remote collaboration?
With the pandemic came remote work on a large scale. And so did many new requirements for more people working remotely. We needed to conduct meetings and work as teams even though we were separated. We needed to work together virtually and find ways to connect in a meaningful way with our co-workers.
We were generally used to seeing our colleagues day in, day out, and being able to ask and answer questions quickly. Feedback could be immediate and would give us the opportunity to alter the way we were thinking or working straight away.
We generally had a sense of social connection and belonging in our workspaces, and a team of people around us we could depend on. So we needed options that would replicate all these things in order to stay connected and productive.
Now that the pandemic is over, the world has changed. While much has gone back to ‘normal’, we are not in the same place we were in before Covid. Remote work is more widespread as many employees decided they wanted a change of pace or a new focus. Not everyone has gone back to the office and some people never will.
However, we still need to do our jobs, feel connected, and stay productive. Companies are facing new expectations from their employees, and need to make the most of hybrid work and remote workers. The right collaborative tools are vitally important if remote work is to be the asset it should be.
What collaborative tools and technologies do companies and remote workers need?
Remote workers need various tools to enable them to communicate and collaborate effectively with their team as well as to manage their work tasks. These can be broken down into various areas although they all tend to be interlinked. Some tools can serve several purposes and the most useful ones, like virtual whiteboards, have multiple features that satisfy many of the requirements that remote employers and employees need.
Remote workers need to stay connected with colleagues, managers, and clients. Reliable communication tools are vital to ensure seamless interactions with others. Whether remote workers are using email, instant messaging apps, or video conferencing tools, they need the ability to contact others immediately as and when it is necessary so they can stay up to date and in touch.
Employers and employees need things that can replicate in-person interactions so that they can feel they are part of a team that is working efficiently and effectively together. Teamwork does not need to suffer if you have the right communication tools.
Tools that enable collaboration are designed to help remote workers work together on projects, share documents, and coordinate tasks, ideally in a similar way to how they would if they were working together in person. This could be a cloud-based file sharing and storage app, a tool that is designed for project management, or an online document editing and collaboration tool, for example.
A centralized communication space that has features like real-time messaging, discussion boards, and comments can enable team members to communicate and collaborate more easily. It will help remote teams stay connected and engaged, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
Task and project tracking tools will help teams create and assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. This helps people understand their responsibilities, what is required of them, and when they need to deliver. People can update their progress so that team leaders and other team members can easily monitor the status of tasks and projects. Accountability and transparency are key for great teamwork.
Document sharing capabilities allow remote teams to upload, share, and collaborate on documents securely. Version control features will make sure that everyone is working on the latest iteration of any documents. This is much harder to do if you are emailing versions back and forth or have various documents in different places. It can lead to confusion and inconsistency.
Tools for virtual meetings, seminars, and workshops
Remember when webinars were called seminars and were in person? A videoconferencing platform is a vital requirement for remote workers. Most people think of Skype when they think of the early days of video calls but in fact the first commercial videoconferencing system was launched in 1982. The hardware took up a whole room and calls cost USD 1,000 per hour.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit teamwork suddenly became synonymous with video calls for meetings, exercise, schooling, and socialising. We were living our lives virtually.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have got used to scheduling, hosting, managing, and attending all sorts of virtual events. We now live in a world where video calls are not just limited to meetings, training, and development. They are a part of everyday life in a way that we could not have imagined before the pandemic. And they allow remote workers to stay connected and work together in a meaningful way. Teamwork is far easier when you can contact and can see the people you need to collaborate with, whenever you need to.
Time and Task Management Tools
One of the main concerns that organizations seem to have regarding remote and hybrid work is how will workers organize and manage their time effectively to complete the tasks that are expected of them. They worry that employees are taking advantage of a lack of direct supervision. Many companies have told their employees they want them back in the office, ostensibly for teamwork and connection purposes. Employees, on the other hand, want more autonomy and the right to work remotely if they choose to.
Time and task management tools can track workload, set deadlines, and lead to more efficiently managed tasks and projects. Not only do these tools give management more peace of mind, but they can also help employees feel more secure that they have all bases covered. Teams can even make use of these features for managing budgets and allocating resources.
Productivity tools go hand in hand with time management tools. Anything that can help employees working remotely streamline their work and stay organized can be useful. For example, there are note-taking apps that can help workers keep all the notes they take for certain projects in the same, easily accessible place.
Reports and analytics can offer insights into team performance, project progress, and other metrics. These insights can help improve teamwork and productivity by identifying bottlenecks and giving people the opportunity to make data-driven decisions.
Tools for security
Data protection and security against cybercriminals is a serious concern for companies with remote workers. They have a duty to ensure the security of their clients’ data as well as needing their own data and communications to remain secure. As an example, security and virtual private network (VPN) tools include antivirus software, firewalls, password managers, and VPN services.
It should go without saying that remote workers need reliable equipment if they are to do their jobs properly. Companies will need to provide computers or laptops and other equipment that is fit for purpose. They will need to ensure that employees have the best setup possible for remote work. Otherwise, they are likely to find their employees are less productive than they would like.
The specific tools that remote workers need will depend on what work they are doing, the organization's requirements, and their employees’ own needs and preferences. It is vital that remote workers have access to the tools they need to communicate, collaborate, manage their tasks, and stay productive while working remotely.
Teamwork and working together remotely
As long as you have the right tools teamwork does not need to suffer when you have employees who are working remotely or on a hybrid basis. Online whiteboards are a valuable collaborative tool for teams, regardless of the industry or sector they are in. They can enhance collaboration, creativity, and teamwork across, within, and between teams and can be used with your clients too.
One of the main advantages of online whiteboards is the ability to collaborate in real-time, regardless of where your team members are based. This is particularly useful for remote or hybrid workers. People can work together as if they were in the same room, fostering greater teamwork and improving productivity.
Visual management capabilities can help teams streamline work processes and manage projects. Online whiteboards can be used to track the progress of a project and all its individual components. This is often easier to do visually, especially if complex concepts or workflows are involved. Virtual whiteboards can help with understanding and decision-making, as well as promoting clear communication and alignment within the team. If you can reduce misunderstandings, you are more likely to achieve better outcomes and faster turnaround.
Teams can use online whiteboards for brainstorming sessions, where members can contribute ideas, draw diagrams, or add sticky notes to spark creativity and innovative thinking.
These tools are also particularly useful for the design thinking process, as they allow teams to collaborate on prototyping, ideation, and feedback, and can lead to better solutions for your employees and customers. There are many whiteboard templates that can be used at all stages of different projects to make teamwork more effective and efficient.
Online whiteboards are a great tool for team building and icebreaker activities as well. With the pandemic teams became splintered and many people struggled with connection and trust. It is important that we rebuild this, particularly with remote and hybrid workers.
Interactive icebreaker games or activities can help build rapport, establish connection, and foster a positive team culture. With some of them including built-in timers, online whiteboards can also help teams stay focused during meetings or workshops, and to manage their time more efficiently.
Using an online whiteboard with your teams
There are many benefits to remote workers using a virtual whiteboard. Here at Klaxoon we have tools and Templates to help your teams become more efficient when they are working remotely.
Our tools help promote teamwork and more effective collaboration, regardless of the sector, industry, or business requirement. Why not check out our resources page to see how we can help your business work better?