October 5, 2018 Last updated September 30th, 2018 3,855 Reads share

3 Ways Businesses Can Use Technology to Support Remote Teams

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AdobRemote work is increasing thanks to online connectivity and related technology.

According to one report, only 18% of full-time employees reported working from home in 2003, but by 2017, this number grew to 24%.

Working remotely generates multiple benefits for businesses and employees.

Operational overhead decreases with a smaller office footprint. Talent can be leveraged worldwide. Travel costs for work-related trips and employee commutes are reduced or eliminated.

Plus, both managers and employees report telecommuting increases productivity. New and evolving technology also supports remote teams.

We’ll go over three ways this works below.

Using Technology for Remote Team Support

Many startups, as well as established companies, are utilizing remote teams to accomplish their goals. This is because it can be less expensive to hire remote workers and technology is at a point where communication is almost as good for remote teams as it is for on-site teams.

A great example of a startup using a remote team to build and launch a product is Zapier. Zapier co-founders explain their remote working journey to creating Zapier, “From day one, (October 2011) Zapier has always been a distributed team. Even though Bryan, Mike and I lived in the same city, we had different schedules and were bootstrapping Zapier on the side of our day jobs and school. We worked on Zapier in every spare moment we each had, but those moments didn’t magically line up at the same time where we could work in the same room, so by necessity we became a remote team.

In June of 2012, we were accepted into Y Combinator and moved into a shared apartment in Mountain View, California. The next three months were the only period in our company’s history where everyone has been in the same city at the same time.

In August of 2012, Mike moved back to Missouri while his girlfriend was graduating law school, and in October of 2012 we started hiring. And since we were already a distributed team it made sense to keep moving that way since we could hire people we knew were awesome, but just didn’t live in the places we lived.

Over the course of 41 months, we’ve learned a few things about building and managing a remote team. There are others with more experience at this than us. I’m not sure how large it will scale, though companies like GitHub, Automattic, Citrix and others have proven that it can be done. But if you’re a small team and want to dip your toes into remote work, consider this your crash course.”

It’s not just tech startups that are allowing their employees to work remotely.

A survey of 1,000 US managers shows 63% of companies are utilizing employees on remote teams. There are, however, potential pitfalls to be aware of relating to communication, project management, and information technology (IT) support.

1. Communication

Remote teams can utilize talent around the world and work continuously across multiple time zones. This may also cause team members to become isolated from each other, leading to a lack of trust and diminished collaboration.

This can be exacerbated by relying primarily on asynchronous communication which doesn’t offer real-time interaction such as email, bulletin board comments, or even messaging software like Slack.

The answer can be synchronous communication such as voice over internet protocol (VoiP) calls, video calls via Skype, and live chats using software like Spark.

You should make these options an integral part of your team’s toolbox and not wait until problems occur to incorporate them.

2. Project Management

Remote team members aren’t trapped in time-consuming, face-to-face status meetings. On the other hand, schedules and individual responsibilities may become unclear.

A robust project management system is the answer.

Software as a service (SaaS) solutions include Basecamp, Workzone, and Zoho. With these products, your team will have a centralized online location to stay in contact, share updates and files, ask and answer questions, and refer to project schedules, milestones, and outcomes.

3. IT Support

Another potential problem with remote teams is dealing with IT support for offsite devices: reporting and fixing technical problems or system administration issues.

For IT teams dealing with offsite versus onsite end-users used to be more difficult and costly.  But, this is no longer the case.

With a remote access software, helpdesk technicians can provide remote IT support via the internet. They can perform behind-the-scenes system administration tasks such as repairing a software, installing a patch, a driver or a device without interrupting the end-user. Techs no longer need to get on the phone to walk a remote employee through a series of step-by-step instructions. Better yet, remote users can keep using their computer while techs work in the background.

To connect to a remote PC Microsoft Remote Desktop software is free while the Apple equivalent is around $80.

Security, Security, Security!

One last concern for remote teams is security. After all, every time data is transmitted online, there is the possibility it may be intercepted or altered.

That’s why a robust network security policy is critical. This includes reducing reliance on third-party systems and applications, managing system access, and performing scheduled security updates.

Incorporating these protocols will ensure your remote teams continue to work both productively and securely.

Matt Shealy

Matt Shealy

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