It’s increasingly common for remote collaboration tools to make part of the technology mix in modern businesses. From simply being able to check a document while on the train to letting field service workers update your CRM or allowing freelancers based abroad to access your extranet, remote collaboration tools have allowed businesses to become far more flexible and attainable than ever before.
However, remote collaboration tools are about more than simply giving the business a little extra room for manoeuvre. A global survey carried out by Ernst & Young with workers from different generations found that, especially for so-called millennials (globally, the dominant generation in work), flexible working is extremely important. As the following chart shows, having a boss who doesn’t let you work flexibly is among the top five reasons millennials would leave a company:
Leading reasons full-time workers quit
Being able to work from home is clearly important for younger workers, and since many businesses also benefit from providing the remote collaboration tools that support flexible working, it seems like a win-win situation. However, while there are now more people allowed to work flexibly than a decade ago, the proportion of the workforce has actually only grown from 5.1% in 2006 to 5.7% this year. This indicates that, although businesses pay lip service to flexible working, the reality hasn’t really changed. In fact, given that today we have vastly superior remote collaboration tools to those that existed just a couple of years ago, the lack of movement in this area is surprising.
Of course, flexible working wouldn’t be appropriate in many jobs. The nature of the work would make it impossible, and certain employees may well prefer the social aspect of being with their colleagues on a daily basis. Nonetheless, today’s remote collaboration tools can make many tasks that previously required being physically present feasible from home. The point is, flexible working options are increasingly popular, there’s a wealth of evidence proving its benefits and it’s easier to do than ever before. While it won’t necessarily be right for everyone, it seems sensible to give employees the option to do so.
Key remote collaboration tools
Today there is a wider range of remote collaboration tools than ever before, allowing a far wider range of employees and job types to work flexibly. For instance, where once you might have only been able to offer flexible working to knowledge workers – via a VPN with access to SharePoint from their home office – you can now provide maintenance people visiting a site with cloud access to a CRM to log their completed jobs. Essentially, the massive growth in cloud technologies in recent years has made it far easier to provide tools and apps for all kinds of remote workers. Let’s have a look at just a couple of the options that remote collaboration tools now allow:
Providing anytime anywhere access to a huge range of essential productivity apps, Office 365 can offer flexible workers with a hub for almost any activity. Office 365 is accessed in the cloud, meaning employees can access it from anywhere they want on any device.
Benefit: imagine how much more loyal an employee would feel if they could work collaboratively on a Word document at home but be able to pop out at 3pm and pick the kids up from school before returning to the document. Despite the short pause in productivity, they’d be far less likely to think “I need to quit this job and find something that lets me spend more time with my children”.
By providing remote workers with access to the company CRM from wherever they are, you significantly open up potential for improving customer service. Employees can log completed jobs, interactions with clients and feed in details to the system in real time.
Benefit: imagine the increase in productivity if employees could log new leads to your CRM direct from their tablets. Picture an employee at a trade show who can immediately enter a potential lead’s details into the system – rather than carrying around a very losable business card for a few days.
- Immediate communications
Office 365 now includes Skype for Business in most plans, meaning remote, home and flexible workers can always be in touch with what’s going on in the office, display their availability and use Skype’s instant messenger feature to have quick chats.
Benefit: a common fear of home working is that employees will feel totally out of the loop – instant messenger and the ability to easily organise Skype for Business calls allows them to keep in constant contact with colleagues.
Remote collaboration tools that fit around you
With flexible working becoming ever more popular among employees, companies that can offer this option with remote collaboration tools will be extremely popular. At ISAAC, we have expertise creating and helping small and medium sized businesses building the cloud based environments they want. We have a range of instantly deployed, easy-to-use apps which fit around you and the way your business works, all accessible remotely via the cloud. To learn more about our approach or discuss the cloud based environment you want to build, get in touch with us today!