In the 21st century business world, many members of the modern workforce can get their jobs done from just about anywhere — as long as they’ve got the right tech tools in place to support them. And, of course, giving workers the flexibility to work from outside the office makes a business much more attractive to many potential employees, especially members of the younger generations. And to make the idea even more alluring to employers, working from home can also lead to enhanced workforce productivity. (In fact, according to one recent study, telecommuting employees put in an average of 1.4 more workdays per month than in-office workers do.)
So just what do telecommuting employees need to get their jobs done from beyond the walls of the office? While the specific answers can vary based on the nature of a business, several the most common requirements are fairly standard across a wide range of industries. Consider these eight essential tools that most businesses must implement to allow their workers to telecommute:
- Broadband: Arguably the most important tech tool needed for a successful telecommute, broadband connectivity is a clear key to remote-work productivity. And for businesses working with larger files that require more bandwidth, high-speed internet is especially critical. Fast internet is also important for clear and understandable communications during team videoconferences.
- Email: Widely accessible and an efficient way to send work-related files, email is another tech tool that is essential to working remotely. Most businesses considering an implementation of the telecommute would be well-advised to ensure their email platform offers a higher-end limit on the size of files that can be emailed so it will support emailing large attachments.
- Phone line: The phone line might be the oldest of the tech tools on this list, but it is still a vital component of effective remote work. Whether provided via a land line or a wireless connection, phone service gives team members a reliable way to reach one another when employees are away from their computers or when technical difficulties such as power outages arise. Most wireless plans also offer hotspot service, which can allow telecommuters to still send and receive digital files and communications when internet service is unavailable.
- Videoconferencing software: In today’s increasingly online business world, the videoconference is bringing workers together for virtual collaboration and idea-sharing from wherever they might be, no matter how far apart. Typical videoconferencing platforms allow attendees to see and hear one another and often put any team member who is currently speaking front and center on users’ screens. Some of the most popular videoconferencing platforms for business include Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex.
- Chat & messaging software: When workers need quick answers to work-related questions or want to quickly shoot comments or check-in messages to one or more colleagues, always-on instant messaging software can often offer much quicker response times than a call or an email. Popular business-focused options for this collaboration-enhancing tool include Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Chat, Salesforce Chatter and Chatwork.
- Project-management software: When it comes to ensuring team members know what tasks are on their to-do lists and that they have all the resources they need to complete them, project-management software can be a huge help, especially when the team includes remote workers. Typically, this tool also provides ways to track the progress and completion of assigned tasks, methods for providing feedback and instructions related to tasks, convenient ways to organize workloads and needed files and often even time-tracking tools. A few of the most commonly employed options here include monday.com, Workzone, Smartsheet, Hive and Celoxis.
- Time-tracking software: When not already covered by a business’s project-management software, time-tracking software can be a big help to keep track of how much time employees are spending on each of their tasks (and to help determine whether future tasks along similar lines might require more or less time). A few leading options in this category include Hubstaff, Harvest Forecast, Paymo and QuickBooks Time.
- Cloud storage: To ensure that critical work- and project-related files are accessible to all team members no matter where they might be located (and when they might need them), cloud storage platforms can be used to put all needed assets within easy and constant reach for anyone with an internet connection and access privileges. These tools also allow for simplified collaboration as team members can update files in the cloud as needed then let colleagues know the revised files are ready for the next employee’s attention. Popular options here include Dropbox Business, Microsoft OneDrive for Business, Google Drive, IDrive Team and Box.
FTC Business provides all the business-communication services needed to support a successful telecommute, including Internet, Wireless and Voice. Visit ftc.net/business to explore all these services and more. And to get local, expert IT help for your business in several tech-related areas, including Managed IT, Cybersecurity, Hosted Services and more, visit FTC IT Solutions today.