remote workforceWe all know that a happy employee equals a productive employee. Keeping today’s office workers satisfied takes a lot more than a well-stocked supply of coffee, though. More and more, staff members expect to telecommute in some capacity, working from home, the local coffee shop or wherever else they feel most inspired.

Meeting these demands without the right technological backbone can be a difficult – if not outright impossible – feat. What does it take to effectively support a remote workforce and foster collaboration between disparate teams? Let’s take a look.

The case for telecommuting

At first glance, office managers may grimace at the idea of letting employees work from home. Telecommuting isn’t just for lazy employees who want to lay around in their PJs all day long. There are plenty of valid reasons staff members may request remote work options. For instance, they may have an obscenely long commute, cutting into either their workdays or their private lives. By eliminating such commutes, even if it’s just a couple of days a week, employees can find more time to work on projects and complete tasks.

In fact, studies have shown that remote workers tend to be more productive than their strictly office counterparts. A recent Gallup report found that employees who spent between 60-80 percent of the workweek telecommuting were more engaged than those who spent more time in the office. Moreover, according to a 2016 TINYpulse survey, 91 percent of employees reported being more productive and accomplishing more when they worked from home or at another location away from the office. Overall, that Gallup study determined that 43 percent of employees now work remotely in some capacity.

Embracing a remote workforce model calls for a mindshift in the way businesses manage their employees. Employees demand some degree of autonomy in their workday, and you need to be willing to grant them that personal accountability. Just as important to success, though, is providing the technological foundation to really let telecommuters prosper and flourish.

Eliminate communication barriers with VoIP

One of the biggest obstacles remote workers encounter is not having a direct line of communication with their fellow telecommuters and office staff, preventing them from effectively collaborating on projects. Fostering that level of communication and collaboration will likely require some changes to your office network and phone system.

For instance, Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) services allow employees to make and receive phone calls directly from their PCs, laptops and other devices, meaning remote workers can easily dial into on-site meetings and not miss a single update. VoIP solutions can also include call-forwarding features that direct incoming calls to a user’s mobile phone. This allows employees to receive any call made to their IP desk-phone even if they’re not physically in the office.

Support cloud-based collaboration

The real change will come via the cloud, however. Facilitating strong collaboration between disparate teams requires hosted solutions that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. Everything from your customer relationship management solution to your email platform will need to be based in the cloud to allow remote employees to connect with them whenever needed and share vital files and data with their co-workers.

To keep cloud-based collaboration tools humming along, you need a strong network to reduce latency and maximize uptime. If your on-site employees are unable to access these tools because the network’s down, telecommuters will essentially be working on an island, cut off from the rest of the organization.

A robust network is essential to supporting a remote workforce and cultivating collaboration across disparate teams. To find out more about what it takes to make this employee management model a reality, contact SMBHD today.