You won’t find “The Handmaid’s Tale” on basic cable. Not even HBO.
The TV world is evolving – for the better, I think – so it’s no surprise more and more people are cutting the cord. After all, why be tethered to only what comes out of the coax when you can just as easily catch up on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” or see what the “Stranger Things” kids are up to?
This trend is also making waves in our work environments as more and more companies learn the benefits of remote work. By harnessing the power of some new tools, businesses are no longer confined by geographic barriers or personal schedules, and the most successful leaders are leveraging these benefits for greater business success. In fact, one recent survey reports that 43 percent of American employees have done some work remotely in the previous year, an increase of four points from 2012.
This trend isn’t going anywhere; it’s time companies learned to use it to their advantage.
3 challenges of remote work and how to fix them
That’s not to say challenges don’t exist, so be sure to think through a few of the most common if you’re ready to “cut the cord” for your team:
1. Remote workers lose that face-to-face interaction.
We humans communicate so much through body language and small inflections that just can’t be translated through Wi-Fi. Remote employees also miss those hallway conversations and overheard chatter that helps paint a broader work picture. There’s no getting around this, so leaders need to be very intentional in the ways you keep remote employees in the loop by using a myriad of tools, such as instant messaging, video and other collaboration platforms, to ensure your people aren’t missing some of the finer nuances.
Erika Andersen elaborates in Forbes:
“Leaders need to model the kinds of behaviors that support ‘discovery’: reaching out to their remote workers regularly to share key information and insights; getting curious about what’s important to them and what they’re dealing with; encouraging remote workers to ask questions when they don’t understand something … Organizations and their leaders need to actively overcome the out-of-sight-out-of mind phenomenon that can make it harder for remote workers to operate as a successful, integrated part of the company.”
2. What about productivity?
It takes a certain type of discipline when there’s no one looking over your actual shoulder. But despite this common concern we hear from business leaders, the reality is much more promising.
In a recent report, two-thirds of company managers surveyed said they’re seeing an increase in productivity from their remote workers. Many of our clients have said that those little distractions in a traditional office setting add up, and remote work allows employees to adjust their schedule around their physical and psychological health that, in the end, boosts their overall productivity.
The latest tools available have also become much simpler and streamlined, which increases employee satisfaction that then leads to higher output.
3. What about getting to our files?
With the rollout of Office 365 and other similar platforms, we’ve eliminated all of the issues of file access and simplified the process. The tools included in Microsoft Teams, for example, allow you to access your files stored in the cloud along with the ability to collaborate with the “Meet Now” functionality integrated into the application.
This means you can grab any of the files you need, whether you’re in the office, at the coffee shop, or at your son’s soccer practice.
New frontiers bring new opportunities for remote workers
We are no longer limited by the need to use a VPN to access files, a third-party license to host a meeting, and a hotspot to access the Internet. The new tech landscape is allowing exciting new opportunities that are beneficial for employees and employers alike.
Just as you can build your own custom watch list on Netflix, you can also customize these new work tools, which is a far cry from the one-size-fits-all approach of the past. With Microsoft’s robust suite, companies can pick and choose what benefits their business the most. While some may value real-time collaboration and access to their files from anywhere, for example, others may only need a powerful meeting solution that allows them to connect with video anywhere in the world. Our job at AdamsGabbert is to understand the unique business needs of our clients and determine what makes sense for them to use.
After all, if your employee can work from home but can still collaborate on a document in real time and check in with the staff using a variety of tools, it’s easier for that person to still feel like part of the team. And that opens new avenues for everyone on board to feel involved and valued.
When cutting the cord can make the team stronger in the end, why aren’t we all doing it?
Cody Evans is the Manager of Technical Services at AdamsGabbert, a catalyst for growth, a spark for innovation, and a facilitator of progress. Founded in 1999 and based in Overland Park, Kan., AG focuses on advisory services, staffing services and technology services—all designed to make business better for their clients. Share your thoughts on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter!