COVID-19 has forced many organizations to adopt new workforce solutions. According to Ernst & Young, remote working will be the new normal across the United States, even after the pandemic subsides.
A remote workforce was once looked upon as a luxury and privilege. Today, it’s become a necessity. Microsoft Teams saw a 200% increase in April to respond to the remote workforce. How do you maintain optimal productivity when your workforce is checking in from different locations?
The answer is to implement organization-wide software applications that can help everyone communicate and collaborate on projects, as if they’re still working side-by-side in an office. The most comprehensive solution for this is Microsoft Office 365.
Microsoft Office 365 can empower employees and boost workforce productivity. Although you may face roadblocks, there’s no reason to delay building a remote infrastructure. Studies show that remote employees work longer hours. But, they also report greater job satisfaction than non-remote workers. Meanwhile, another study shows that 82% of remote workers are less stressed than their brick-and-mortar counterparts and have more time for leisurely activities.
The Benefits of Remote Work
While many employees are working remotely under less than ideal circumstances, there are still a number of benefits to remote work.
- It eliminates long commuting times. Employees who spend less time sitting in traffic are happier and more productive. According to the United States Census Bureau, the average one-way commute is about 26 – 90 minutes. Workers with longer commutes suffer higher rates of depression (33%), are more likely to have financial worries (37%), and more likely to be sleep-deprived (46%).
- Employees enjoy a better work-life balance. By eliminating commutes, employees can spend more time with their families or on personal endeavors. According to Forbes, 87% of employees appreciate support from employers when it comes to balancing work and personal commitments.
- Increased employee satisfaction leads to higher workforce retention and better bottom line. Generally speaking, remote work gives employees more flexibility. They can devote time to important tasks in a distraction-free environment.
As can be seen, remote work has multiple benefits. However, that doesn’t mean it comes without potential drawbacks.
Potential Challenges of Remote Work
Remote workers do face some challenges when working from home. No longer reliant on site-run servers, they must set up their own personal wireless networks for internet connectivity and security. And, in order to comply with privacy laws, remote workers must make sure their home networks have the latest patches and antivirus updates.
Challenges of a Remote Organizational Framework
The obstacle that organizations face when employing a mainly remote workforce is slightly different. From a corporate perspective, the company needs to quickly determine a way to implement widespread communication and collaboration channels for their remote teams. One of the best ways to do this is through a cloud solution. This gives the remote workforce access to necessary files and data they’ll need to perform their tasks efficiently.
Best Practices for a Productive, Connected Remote Workforce
When you have a remote workforce, it’s important to leverage the right software to recreate the experience of being in an office environment. This helps cut down on disruptions to workflows. By all indications, it helps to follow Microsoft’s remote work checklist:
- Set up your work station
- Communicate reliably and often
- Maintain boundaries between work and personal life
- Embrace online meetings
- Be mindful and inclusive — pause frequently during online conference calls to get employee feedback
- Record meetings when possible
- Share insights, updates, and helpful resources to foster collaboration and camaraderie
Cloud productivity solutions such as Microsoft Office 365 integrates all the functions you need to excel under one virtual roof. This includes:
- Personal messaging
- File sharing
- Screen sharing
- Meeting scheduling
- Calls and video conferencing
Microsoft Office 365’s suite of tools such as Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive check all of the above boxes. Through a cloud-enabled platform, they provide remote workers with all the necessary tools to succeed in a remote environment. In addition, Microsoft Office gives employees seamless access to Office 365 tools on a wide range of mobile devices. Some of the best practices you can use with this platform include:
- Securing your network access and file sharing with upgraded licenses and policies to protect your remote workers.
- Enabling Microsoft Teams Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to provide stronger security for links and emails. Essentially, Microsoft Teams ATP is a powerful email filtering service that protects against malware and viruses.
- Ensuring that all external domains are disallowed within Teams.
- Creating data loss prevention (DLP) policies within Teams.
- Taking a strict approach to file sharing by ensuring that external file sharing within Teams is enabled only for trusted, approved cloud storage platforms your team is familiar with.
- Enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) for increased security.
- Enabling conditional access (CA) so only the right team members have access to the right areas.
- Employing device management and Intune to help your administrators keep track of hardware inventory.
- Synchronizing your on-premise and remote directories. Use Azure Active Directory for seamless integration of both directories.
- Using SharePoint and OneDrive for all file storage to ensure all team documents are kept in an easily accessible place.
The Key to Maintaining Productivity With a Remote Workforce
Ultimately, your remote team is only as reliable as its ability to communicate and collaborate effectively. The best way to do this is with the tools provided by Microsoft Office 365.
There’s never been a better time to migrate your business to the cloud. When you work with Nexinite, a Microsoft partner, your company will remain agile and be able to adapt to ever-evolving market conditions. For more on how Nexinite can help build a powerful remote framework for your workforce, contact us today.