When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country in 2020, many businesses went into panic mode as new safety and social distancing guidelines forced them to shut down their business or turn to a remote workforce. It was a jarring experience, and some companies are still getting used to this new normal.
The good news is that, for the most part, it appears that the idea of a remote workforce is working out better than we thought it might. In fact, it has been discovered that a remote workforce even has its benefits, including increased retention rates and an expanded hiring pool for new employees. Still, many companies are playing catch-up while learning exactly what they need to run a remote team. Let’s look at some essential apps that can fill in the gaps.
Before getting into the technical side of things, as an employer, you need to ensure that your staff has a proper workspace at their home. Ideally, they will have an extra bedroom. If they do, offer an ergonomic chair, so they don’t hurt their backs while working. Employees who live in apartments will have a harder time. However, you can recommend a couple of potential work areas, including a space in the entryway or under the staircase if they live in a split-level loft. Provide fold-up desks for these smaller spaces.
Now, you need to set them up with a network where they can access their work and store all necessary files. If the employee already has a computer at work, they can connect to it from home through a remote access port that will allow them to use and view everything they have at the office just like they were there. Luckily, most current computers already have this bridge installed, so you just need to set it up.
If this is a new employee who has only ever worked remotely, or they don’t have a current computer to connect to, then consider a cloud computing solution. One great option is Google Drive, which creates a space for all of their files and workbooks. The service also provides Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets, so they can do everything they would with the Microsoft Office Suite but without the physical software. You can also go to a self-contained cloud computing company where you will have access to all software plus security services and online backup servers.
Team Collaboration Apps
When a team is working together in an office, they have the opportunity to collaborate, discuss ideas, and meet in the same room to complete project goals. Even though a remote team will not be able to see each other quite as easily, you still want to provide the technology to simulate this collaborative atmosphere. Start with a comprehensive chat program like Slack or Ryver that allows your team to talk to one another in real-time and set up reminders for important meetings.
You’ll also want a good video app that allows you to speak face-to-face during important meetings and brainstorming sessions. Many people turn to Zoom as it is a comprehensive suite that allows you to have multiple attendees on camera at once in addition to providing chat and webinar options. Other great video conferencing apps include GoToMeeting, Join.Me, and Webex.
For project management firms and businesses with many moving parts, you’ll want to provide an organization app like Trello or Asana. Both of these products provide a digital workspace where everyone on the team can see all projects on the docket, along with the progress of each, its respective deadline, and more. When tasks are complete, they can be marked off of the list, and each employee has ownership of what they’ve done. Most apps of this type are easy to use, and many are free to try.
Helpful Apps for Employees
Now that your employees are working from home, you will want to supply them with a few apps that help them stay productive, secure, and connected, so they have everything they need in their own little space. For example, provide them access to a payroll app like the one offered by QuickBooks. This app allows your workers to remotely check the accuracy of their paycheck, receive payment reminders, and even electronically pay their taxes when the time comes.
One of the issues of working from home is the risk of distractions and a potential dropoff of productivity, especially if the employee doesn’t have their own separate office away from their family. You can help the team stay focused with a productivity app like Serene. This program offers a bevy of helpful options, including goal-setting tools that break down your tasks for the day into manageable bites. Plus, it blocks all unnecessary apps and websites that could provide an easy distraction. It even plays soothing music for maximum productivity.
During this remote revolution, there has been an increase in cybercrime as hackers realize that at-home workers may not have the protection typically provided by the office IT team. However, you can still keep your employees and their data safe by providing them with a Virtual Private Network. A VPN, like those offered by ExpressVPN and Connect Secure, encrypts all of their personal and private data, so it is unreadable if it is ever stolen. Plus, it masks their location, so they cannot be identified when working at public places like the nearby coffee shop. Pair this tech with antivirus software and a proper firewall, and your employees will feel totally safe and secure.
Moving from an office to a remote environment can be daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Provide your team with this software now, and the transition from work to home will be seamless.