Small business connectivity series: How to optimise your remote workers

May 27th, 2019 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here.

Remote work is on the rise, with nearly 70% of Australian workers working at least one day a week out of the office. This then gives rise to the question what’s so good about remote working. And from a business perspective, what do you need to do to make remote work a success?

We’ve taken a look at how you can optimise remote working and the essential tools you need to help get the most from your remote workers.

Remote working: why it’s good for your employees

In a survey conducted last year, a majority of workers believe that remote work had a positive impact on their productivity. Though remote work can involve challenges like communication, accountability, isolation, and collaboration , these can be balanced out by the potential benefits if it is managed correctly.

Potential benefits for both employees and your small business could include increased productivity, efficiency, lower turnover, overhead savings, and access to a more diverse pool of workers. Your employees could also be happier and more engaged, meaning enhanced focus on challenging tasks and greater productivity.

The best tech and tools for an effective remote working system

Remote-work arrangements could deliver great outcomes for both employees and your small business, so what do you need to run a remote-work set-up and how do you optimise it?

Collaboration and communication

Collaboration and communication tools are vital. Popular platforms include Slack, Skype, Google Chat and Yammer, so consider whether these could fit your requirements. These applications are designed to facilitate things like document exchange as well as one-on-one chatting and group communication. However, it’s essential you have the internet capabilities and speed to use these tools to their full advantage.

You could also could benefit from cloud-based document storage, sharing, and collaboration tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.

Video conferencing is another tool that may assist your employees in the age of remote working. Dedicated video conferencing platforms like GoToMeeting and Zoom could also support employee collaboration. These offer features like video calling, chat, screen sharing, and other interactive tools.

Project management software

Depending on the industry your business is in and its size, you may have a number of employees collaborating on a project. For bigger teams and complex projects. Project management systems like Airtable and Trello could allow your employees to better visualise what needs to be done, aggregate feedback for everyone, and focus on the project.

Workflow automation tools

Workflow automation software, for example Zapier, helps your employees integrate the web apps they use and move data across them. For remote employees who rely heavily on technology, these types of workflow automation tools can speed up routine processes and make them far more efficient.

Data security tools

By enhancing your business’ data security with tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) and firewalls, you could reduce the risk of data breaches. You can complement this with a permission-based data-access system so your employees can access only the data they need for their roles.

Other tools

If your remote employees accept payments from customers on the go, you could provide a payment system like Stripe or PayPal.

Another useful tool to consider is a password management system like LastPass, which lets you safeguard passwords, avoid account lockouts, and share team passwords easily. These types of tools can be useful, even if you don’t have any remote employees.

Optimising remote working

You can provide your employees with the best technology tools, but if they lack access to high-speed internet and/or mobile internet, they won’t be able to maximise the benefits these types of tools may provide. Employees that are working from home might also have their own internet that they are happy to use. If that is the case, it might be a good idea to make sure their connection is up to the job. Getting them to check their speed and offering tips on how to optimise their Wi-Fi connection can be two reasonably easy things that could make a big difference to their productivity.

If you have mobile employees who are working from different locations throughout the day, mobile broadband could be the best way to support their productivity. With mobile broadband, they can collaborate on the go via their preferred devices, whether that be a laptop, tablet, or phone.

Getting the best from your remote employees

Consider your employees and whether they’re a good fit for remote work. For example, excellent traits for remote work could include independence, strong communication skills, time management skills, and proficiency with tech tools. If there are employees that are weak in any of these areas but would like to work remotely, giving them the ability to develop these traits and skills is a great place to start.

Guidelines

Provide your employees with guidelines on setting up their home office and working on a mobile basis, whether that’s on client sites, cafes, or other locations outside the office. This might include tips on reducing distractions, time organisation, and tracking their own daily tasks.

Performance management

As the owner or manager, you’ll want to have a system in place for measuring productivity, results, and quality of work. Set clear expectations with detailed examples so your employees know what’s expected of them. Provide regular feedback, offer suggestions for improvement, and track customer satisfaction and/or other quality metrics. All of these things can help you assess if giving your employees the option of working remotely is a good business decision.

Engagement and community

Additionally, treat remote employees like any other employee and engage them regularly. Explore ways to use your technology tools and platforms to build a strong community as this can support collaboration, culture, engagement, and productivity.

An era of remote and mobile work might already be underway, so making sure your small business is aware and as prepared as it can be is important. Empowering your remote employees with the right technology is essential, but you’ll probably also want to establish clear guidelines and expectations. With the right communication tools and managerial guidance, your employees, as well as your business, can reap the benefits of remote work.

If you need to set up your small business with internet for your office and/or mobile broadband, Aussie Broadband are here to help come up with a solution for your business. Contact the team behind Australia’s 5th largest nbn™ provider now.