This is an update to the blog What Are the Factors to Consider before Implementing a Telecommuting Policy?

With the outbreak of COVID-19, many organizations have realized the significance of digital transformation and are implementing various policies to continue their business operation amid this pandemic. While organizations have been moving towards automation and digitization, the present health crisis has pushed them to speed up the rate of adoption. This has led to mass adoption of telecommuting which has become a vital business change since the outbreak of the virus. Digitization of business data with the help of a document scanning service allows businesses to easily exchange vital data with remote workers and continue business operations.

Telecommuting or teleworking is defined as the practice of working from a remote location, while interacting with your office by phone or email using the internet. It is an alternative work arrangement where an employee works outside of the standard office, often from home or a location close to home, such as a local library or café. The employee connects with the superiors and co-workers using telephones and internet connections. This enables the entire team to enjoy flexible working hours and also meet the needs of the business.

Creating a Secure and Productive Remote Workforce

Telecommuting requires a good work-from-home policy and outfitting employees with laptops and internet connections. Businesses should also equip their staffs with digital tools and platforms that will help them work efficiently.

  • Proper communication platforms like instant messaging, video conferencing, audio conferencing, email, Voice over Internet Protocol, and integrated messaging apps allow employees to stay connected with co-workers and clients.
  • Cloud-based project management along with collaboration applications help staff members to be on top of ongoing projects, share documents, and make updates in real time.

Protect and Safeguard Company Data

Data security is a major concern when it comes to telecommuting. Employees may use home networks and personal devices to access business applications and platforms to avoid any breach. To ensure safety of company data, the following steps can be taken.

  • Provide remote workers with virtual private networks to avoid any external factors from accessing in-transit data or viewing communications between employees.
  • Employees’ devices should be updated with cyber security tools including antivirus and anti-malware software to avoid any threats before they can cause any damage.
  • Set up a disaster recovery protocol to protect company data against threats like ransomware attacks and unplanned outages or disruptions.

Technology Solutions for Telecommuting

  • Face-to-Face meetings: Today, there are many virtual meeting platforms available that facilitate face-to-face meetings. Services like Zoom, Microsoft’s Team, Google Meet, Blue Jeans, and GoToMeetings deliver face-to-face functionality, making them excellent solutions for productivity, team bonding and remote collaboration. Instant messaging tools with group chat features enable easy to get quick answers to critical questions as teams work remotely.
  • Screen sharing: This is a useful and effective solution when employees need troubleshooting assistance, or when team members need to simultaneously view slide decks, documents, presentations etc.
  • Online document sharing: Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Box and other free and open-access alternatives are popularly used for remote collaboration. It allows team members to create, share, edit, and collaborate documents in real time, using a system built around access permissions so that only authorized individuals are able to edit files. Contributors can add comments for discussions and revisions, and everything is cloud-based and ensures secure storage.
  • Virtual office software: Employees need a comprehensive, fully functional solution for telecommuting during COVID-19 and the answer to that is virtual office software. Virtual office software is a complete platform that helps to recreate the office experience digitally, with face-to-face communication, collaboration on documents, time tracking, time management and attendance tool.
  • Communication and software networking tools: Some business productivity solutions help create an online space where employees can share updates, files, data, links etc in a news feed style interface. These enterprise social networking platforms make telecommuting a seamless experience.
  • Team management and feedback: Distance between managers and direct report or feedback is a huge challenge in telecommuting. There are tools like 15Five and others that facilitate productive one-on-ones. Recognition tools like bonus.ly are also available that allow anyone in an organization to augment praise for a colleague’s hard work through micro-bonuses and public announcements.

A properly set up telecommuting program provides a number of benefits for employees and employers. But to implement a telecommuting program, it is important to ensure that the business is digitally transformed. The first step is to associate with a document scanning service to digitize all documents before implementing telecommuting in your organization.