Struggling with the technical side of remote working? It seems like the whole world is tackling the complexities of working from home at the moment, and whether it’s video conferencing, business security, or something else, every day brings a new challenge in figuring out how to do our jobs away from the office. Stevie Nicks, Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine, shares some thoughts on how technology can help make your remote working life easier.
Advocates of remote working have been pushing it as a logical move for years, with their case growing formidable when internet infrastructure became widely established. Commuting only when it’s necessary, being able to avoid distractions, enjoying the comforts of home, and taking breaks when needed… by degrees, the stubborn business world began budging on the matter.
When early 2020 brought the global Covid-19 pandemic and saw the effective shutdown of office-based business everywhere, though, it forced everyone’s hands. Even those most disdainful of the classic 9-to-5 grind didn’t want it to happen this way, but remote working became the new paradigm almost overnight — and companies had to adapt to endure.
We’re weeks into lockdown protocol as I write this, and plenty of businesses are still struggling to figure out how to work effectively outside of the standard office environment. The key has always been technology, and using it smartly will empower companies to make the most of remote working in the months ahead. Here’s how it can help:
It can make better home offices
Having a finely-optimised home office is of paramount importance, both for the employee using it and the company relying on them to get things done, and it’s never been easier to establish an excellent home office. Think back to the early days of personal computers: the cumbersome desktop units, the clunky CRT displays, and the lint-collecting mechanical mice. Even if the internet had been as good back then, home offices would have been awkward to build.
Today, a high-performance laptop can do everything a remote worker needs, all without taking up much space or even requiring that much power. Couple it with some workstation peripherals — an accurate mouse, an ergonomic keyboard, a large monitor, all connected through a convenient Thunderbolt 3 dock — and you have a great home office that anyone can assemble.
It can massively reduce admin
Admin has always been a necessary but frustrating part of business, and companies that have varied departments can really suffer from the seams between them. If one department has data that another one needs, it might not be easy to make that data available, and that introduces damaging slowdown. Online technology can bring everything together in powerful ways.
Whether you’re deploying tools like Zapier to connect separate tools or using cloud suites that offer exceptional internal connectivity, you can achieve remarkable levels of integration. Just as auth0.com makes it possible for someone to use just one social account to log in to many different sites, and icompario.com fuel cards let fleet drivers cover all their payments, the point is convenience. Less effort spent on admin means more time spent on productive work.
It can keep teams communicating
Moving away from the office means giving up on not only standard meetings but also the many brief colleague interactions that often prove useful (though they prove distracting just as often). Remote workers need to stay connected, as it supports morale and productivity, and technology can achieve that more broadly and easily than ever before.
Think about the recent rise of Zoom, a service that was somewhat popular before the Covid-19 outbreak but became the most talked-about utility in the business world in the blink of an eye when so many companies had to start holding remote meetings. Zoom makes it easy to have a conference call with an entire team, whether to discuss a project or just cover general updates — and there are many other tools that make online communication and collaboration easier.
It can protect vital business data
Security is a core component of business success because every company needs to keep its data protected. If you’re working from a conventional office and are extremely concerned about this, you can keep your computers locked up safely when you’re not using them (or use physical records, though that’s somewhat impractical). But what about when you’re working remotely?
Well, not only are the cloud suites I alluded to earlier (Google Docs, for instance, or Microsoft Office) very secure these days through high-level encryption and multi-factor authentication, but you can also use a dedicated company VPN to ensure that all online activity through employee laptops is shielded from outside intervention. Technology now allows remote working to be roughly as secure as a well-guarded traditional office (if not more so).
We’re living in worrying times, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up on our business goals. Through using technology sensibly, companies can learn to operate remotely and achieve as much as they ever did in conventional offices.
Stevie Nicks is the Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine – a website that covers the topics you care about. You’ll find articles about lifestyle, travel, fashion, trends and relationships on our site – each of which is written in our unique style.