- Date: 20 February 2018
Every business wants to improve their processes and streamline workflows year-over-year. With ever-changing technologies and professional work styles adapting and becoming more and more efficient, it’s easier than ever to make smart, sophisticated changes - especially going into a new calendar year.
Because many companies take the opportunity to assess and alter their operations at the turn of the year, now is the perfect time to shake things up and make changes to improve the connectivity and communications of your remote workers and traveling employees. If you want to truly ensure your out-of-office personnel stay in the know while on the go, you’ll want to take a hard look at these emerging technology trends perfectly suited for remote workers in 2018:
1. Time-Tracking and Project Management Tools
As more of your workforce goes remote, monitoring their time and progress is more vital than ever. While they may be more comfortable without a supervisor literally breathing down their necks in a physical office, that’s both a blessing and a curse. Remote workers - especially those employed on a full-time basis, may fall prey to laziness and distraction. While it’s true that employees who work remotely a few days per week tend to be more productive and work for longer hours, it’s important to closely monitor their workflow and schedules so that your projects meet deadlines and progress isn’t lost due to an out-of-office worker.
2. Smart and Hyper-Accurate Voicemail Transcriptions
Especially true for busy outside sales professionals, filtering through important calls, emails, and text inquiries from potential and current clients is a major time suck. And while automated voicemail transcription services are continuing to improve in quality, it’s very rare that they accurately capture and convey important details like proper names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Instead, consider a professional-grade voicemail-to-text solution that provides hyper-accurate readouts of your organization’s voicemail messages so you can quickly filter and assess them without dialing into your voicemail inbox.
3. Rethink Your Internal Communications
With so many sophisticated team communication solutions available today, your organization may actually be suffering from a communications crisis if you’re still relying on phone calls and emails to share information and collaborate on projects - especially for companies with remote workers. Making a move to team-based solutions like Microsoft Teams or Slack can be a major boon to your productivity - especially if you have multiple contractors, remote teams, or a combination of in-house and out-of-office workers sharing workloads.
4. Reduce Unnecessary Meetings
Studies suggest that the average employee in the professional realm is subjected to meetings 37% of their working time, equating to about $35 billion in costs to U.S. companies each year. That’s a major financial burden for any organization, but unnecessary meetings can also reduce employee morale. In 2018, reconsidering the use, relevance, and importance of meetings can not only improve your bottom line, but it can help with employee retention, productivity, and overall mood.
5. Utilize Better Email Management Techniques
As we all know, the majority of the average worker’s email inbox is utterly irrelevant. Marketing materials, newsletters, and head-scratching internal email threads have devalued most large organization’s inboxes, prompting some companies to abandon internal email completely. While that’s certainly a drastic step that requires a major organizational overhaul, taking the time to evaluate how your team uses email and moving to more effective inbox solutions with time management and organizational tools can help improve the quality of your email practices and reduce time-wasting inbox purge sessions.
6. Embrace Automation
“Multitasking” is a phrase that’s too often associated with productivity, but in reality, employees who are forced to swap between multiple tasks on a daily basis are actually less productive than those who focus on a singular project at a given time. With tools like Buffer, IFTTT, and any number of automated sales and CRM tools, you’ll be able to streamline your social media campaigns, improve your internal monitoring and workflow tasks, keep your email marketing efforts under a single roof, and help generate better sales and leads without relying on your talented employees to complete repetitive, time-wasting tasks.
7. Offload Unnecessary Teams/Roles to Contract Workers
More than 35% of the U.S. workforce is now considered freelance - a major shift from the previous decade. There are many reasons for this, but no matter how talented your internal team may be, there’s a wealth of incredibly talented and qualified freelancers looking for work at any given moment. If you’re a remote worker with a freelance budget or simply want to offload repetitive tasks, you have options like Fiver and Mechanical Turk for low-cost, highly reliable grunt work.
8. Reduce Paperwork
Are you still relying on paper checks and invoicing in your accounting department? How about faxes and printers for crucial documents? With tools like FreshBooks, Adobe PDF Scan, and so many more, you have no excuse if you’re still using physical paper for your essential, everyday business activities. In 2018, make an effort to improve and digitize these processes and your remote employees will thank you.
9. Double Down on Security
With so many high-profile hacks in the news last year, it’s easy to forget that small and medium-sized businesses are in much greater danger than high-level targets in the enterprise world. That’s why remote workers should be extremely careful - especially when working in areas with public Wi-Fi. Ask your IT department about setting up a VPN, security software, and device tracking tools to ensure your remote workstation is safe from both virtual and physical threats while you’re out of the office.