In 2022, remote work is more popular than ever before. Thanks to new advances in technology, workers can collaborate from anywhere in the world with little more than a computer and an internet connection. However, what's changed in recent years is the availability of high-quality remote work programs. These apps make it easier for employees and managers to communicate and collaborate with file sharing, virtual meetings, and instant messaging.
Now that modern workplaces need to know how to accommodate remote workers, we're going to look at the various ways that these programs can strengthen these teams. Whether you're interested in using remote work software or want to maximize engagement with it, here's how it can improve the employee experience.
What is Remote Work Software?
Remote work software is a program that includes various tools and components to allow workers to communicate and share details with each other. Some of these tools can include:
- Instant Messaging - Workers need to be able to set up group chats, one-on-one sessions, and direct messages with anyone else within the organization.
- File Sharing - Employees can share documents and other files on shared drives. This tool allows workers to collaborate in real time without worrying about sending files back and forth via email.
- Video Conferencing - Even remote workers need to see each other from time to time. Virtual meeting software allows employees to collaborate face-to-face.
- Employee Network - A comprehensive network of everyone within the company allows individuals to reach out to each other for various reasons. For example, internal recruitment, employee mentoring, and networking.
The Challenges of Managing a Remote Team
Although remote working has been around for a while, managing whole teams has been a relatively new experience. Managers and supervisors can face various obstacles and challenges, such as:
- Alternate Time Zones - Because workers can log in from anywhere, they can be in multiple countries across the globe. Since multiple countries have different time zones, it can be hard to get everyone together for meetings. Also, deadlines may have to be adjusted accordingly.
- Lack of Face-to-Face - Body and facial language can make a huge difference when communicating with other people. If everything is text-based, it's hard for workers to understand context and connotation. While virtual meetings can help, it's not the same as the real deal.
- Project Management - Running a specific project with a remote team can be challenging because supervisors have to keep everyone on track without getting to see them in person. So, deadlines and check-ins are even more crucial to compensate for the lack of interpersonal interactions.
- Technical Difficulties - While modern software has come a long way, it's not infallible. Internet outages and software bugs can interrupt operations and projects, leading to delays.
- Social Isolation - When employees work from home, they don't get the same level of social interaction. Isolation can set in, creating an unproductive environment.
How Remote Working Software Can Improve the Employee Experience
Now that we've discussed the challenges of managing remote teams, let's discover how high-quality remote work software can make the situation easier and more efficient.
That said, it's also imperative for managers and supervisors to understand what productivity looks like with remote work. For example, employees may not prefer to log in at specific times. Instead, some might like to work in the morning while others like to work at night. Also, it's better to focus on deadlines and progress reports rather than the amount of work done on a particular day. Many remote workers might struggle with working regular hours every day.
So, let's break down the six different ways that remote working software can improve the employee experience.
1. Improve Productivity and Efficiency
One problem that many managers report with remote workers is reduced productivity. However, this issue usually occurs with people who are not used to working from home or in a remote location. Individuals with lots of remote work experience can often balance their personal and professional lives.
Still, productivity is a common problem for remote teams, especially because it's harder to monitor individuals regularly. Fortunately, the right software can alleviate many of these concerns with tools like:
- Worker Dashboards - Supervisors can get a "birds-eye" view of their team and see where everyone is at. Each worker can have specific tasks assigned to them, and a manager can see how quickly they're finishing them. In some cases, supervisors can also see who is online and active, so they know when to reach out to a worker if necessary. This kind of setup makes it easier and more efficient to track progress and call meetings.
- Task-Based Deadlines - The right program allows managers to assign tasks with specific deadlines and objectives. Each task can have multiple steps, each one with a separate date and time. By setting up deadlines, managers can worry less about workers clocking in and out at specific times and focus more on project completion.
- Live Collaboration - If multiple employees are working on the same project, they should be able to collaborate in real time. For example, maybe they're all working on a document, with each person writing a specific section. This kind of setup makes the project more efficient because managers don't have to get individual reports. Instead, they can check the progress in the master file and see who has contributed and how much.
- Shared Drives and Folders - Gone are the days of sending files back and forth via email. Now, individuals can log into the same drive and access the same information. These drives can also have tiered access for sensitive information. This way, supervisors can see everything while workers only see what's assigned to them.
2. Enable Cross-Training and Recruitment
One of the best ways to ensure employee engagement is to facilitate an environment where individuals can find their place within the organization. Internal recruitment is a valuable tool that helps strengthen the workforce and leads to better satisfaction and productivity. There are two primary ways that remote work software can enable recruitment - advancement and cross-training. Here's a breakdown of each option:
Workers are more likely to stay with a company if there is a clear path upward. For example, someone may start at an entry-level position and rise to become a manager, executive, or department director. Internal recruitment ensures that everyone who is eligible for these positions can access and apply to them when they become available.
Cross-Training and Recruitment
Just because someone works in a specific department doesn't mean they'll thrive there. Internal recruitment allows employees to train for different positions across the company. Not only does this kind of lateral movement yield stronger and more versatile workers, but it enables the company to move people to different departments as necessary. Also, cross-training means that some workers may find a position that fits their passion better than their current one. When you have passionate and dedicated employees across the company, you can yield a much stronger bottom line.
3. Empower Feedback and Communication
There are so many ways to communicate these days that it's virtually impossible for two or more people to not have a conversation. Communication methods can include:
- Phone Calls - Remote work software can come with VOIP accessibility to make and receive calls through the system. This way, workers don't need to use personal phones for work-related calls.
- Instant Messaging - Programs like Slack allow employees to communicate individually or as a group. It's also easy for workers to record information and look up past conversations as necessary.
- Video Calls - Virtual conferencing tools allow everyone to speak face to face, albeit behind a computer screen. These tools are perfect for project meetings, company updates, and social gatherings.
- Email - All employees should have a dedicated email address. This mailbox is perfect for communication outside of the company, but it can also be useful to receive documents and files.
4. Strengthen Interpersonal Relationships
As we mentioned, social isolation can be a significant issue for remote workers. So, you need a program that makes it easy for interactions and communication between employees. Also, the software should be able to adapt to individual preferences for better engagement. For example, some workers may prefer virtual meetings while others prefer texting and instant messaging.
Virtual cocktail hours and parties can also strengthen these relationships by having employees interact outside of a work-first environment. This way, everyone can meet and interact and get to know a little more about the other people in their department or branch.
The right remote working software will also enable supervisors and managers to interact with employees seamlessly, allowing for better communication and understanding. For example, perhaps a worker doesn't want work-related communication between specific hours. They can set those hours within the software, ensuring that they're not disturbed while on personal time.
Remote work software can also make it easy to notify everyone of birthdays, anniversaries, and other achievements. By celebrating individuals regularly, they'll feel more seen and engaged by the company.
5. Reduce Employee Turnover
Why is employee engagement so vital for a successful enterprise? One primary reason is that it reduces turnover, which can be far more expensive than you might expect. On average, it costs more to train a new employee than to retain an existing one. But, how does a more positive employee experience reduce turnover? Let's count the ways:
- The Value of Feeling Valued - According to a Glassdoor study, most workers (even younger generations) focus more on how well a company values their input over their paycheck. While money is crucial (everyone has bills to pay), it's not the only reason why people stay at a position. As the saying goes, people don't quit jobs, they quit managers. So, the right software can make an employee feel like they're an integral and valuable part of the team.
- Engagement vs. Busy Work - One problem that many workers report with remote environments is the pressure to look "busy" during standard work hours. However, working from home is challenging because there are other responsibilities at hand. While there is software to monitor how busy someone is while working remotely, the best option is to focus on deliverables, not hours. When employees feel like they're completing meaningless busy work, they won't feel valued or engaged. Instead, by leaning into projects and task-based goals, workers are more stimulated.
- Flexibility and Freedom - Another advantage of having a remote team is that they can set their hours and deliver projects based on deadlines. This flexibility is greatly appealing because it enables individuals to balance their professional and personal lives more easily. Now, it's easy to take care of tasks like doctor appointments because a worker doesn't have to call out of the office. When companies allow this kind of flexibility, they see far more engagement.
6. Develop a Better Company Culture
Company culture is an essential part of running your business because it ensures everyone stays focused on cohesive ideals and a strong mission statement. This culture also helps with the recruiting process since it helps hiring managers look for people who can fit in well, not just those with a qualified resume.
But, how does remote work software help deliver a better company culture? Well, you can find programs that align with your values and goals, such as:
- People First Approach - Many companies are focusing on their employees as people first and workers second. With the right software, you can reward top performers and encourage them to go above and beyond whenever possible. For example, you can celebrate special occasions, project achievements, and other milestones with everyone in the department or company. By showing that employees are valued, they're more willing to engage with the business.
- Customer Service - Regardless of the industry you're in, your customers are essential for making your business thrive. If you have remote workers handling customer service calls and interactions, you need to be sure that they can engage productively. For example, if a remote employee manages a call line, they must be able to bring up a customer's information immediately to ensure accuracy and responsiveness during the call. Workers may also be able to follow up with customers and discuss the pros and cons of their interaction.
- Employee Incentives - Typically, incentivizing an employee involves bonuses or other financial compensation. However, some workers prefer other benefits like paid time off or freebies. The right software enables the company to facilitate these incentives by keeping track of them more efficiently.
Overall, you need to figure out your company's goals and objectives before researching and comparing different programs. This way, you can make sure it works best for your specific needs. Otherwise, you'll need to figure out a patchwork of different tools to achieve the same results.
How Structural Makes Remote Work Software That Works
As you can see, the right software can make a huge difference in how well your remote employees operate. They can stay more engaged and productive at all times. leading to a stronger bottom line. Structural is a program that enables your workers to get more out of their projects while also fostering a more collaborative environment. If you're interested in seeing what Structural can do for your business, contact us for a preview today!