How technology can make flexible working and remote teams a success for your small business
Flexible working and the option to work from anywhere are becoming increasingly important. Tools such as Office 365 Business are vital for managing remote teams
Technology has untethered us from our desks and teams are no longer bound to the office.
We can share and collaborate in an instant – whether we’re five meters or five hundred miles away – giving rise to a culture of flexible work arrangements and remote working.
This allows entrepreneurs to source talent from anywhere in the world and gives their employees the freedom they need to be productive and work from anywhere.
But not sharing an office doesn’t mean productivity and teamwork suffer. On the contrary, the software and tools available today make working remotely as effective as working in an office.
Document sharing, productivity, online meetings. All can now be performed as effectively from a remote location.
The benefits of flexible working
Businesses that do provide remote and flexible working options stand to benefit greatly in terms of attracting and retaining key talent.
The option to make a flexible working request is a key factor in many jobseekers’ decision making. Research from Jobsite found that 39% of millennials would actually sacrifice some of their salary for the option to work flexibly.
Rather than hampering productivity, plenty of research has indicated that many workers are actually more productive when they are able to work from home.
Research from YouGov Omnibus, conducted on behalf of Redcentric, found that 30% say their productivity increased away from the office and just 17% that it reduced their efficiency.
Managing remote teams
Remote team working requires a new way of working. And that requires having the right technology.
Around 12% of respondents to the same survey said that their IT systems weren’t modern enough to manage remote teams. This is why it’s imperative that businesses upgrade their tech to take advantage of the opportunities around flexible working.
Software such as Office 365 Business can help to make remote team collaboration a breeze by allowing your team to use key business software across multiple devices as if they’re in the same office.
Here are some of the essential features you need to make flexible working a success for your small business:
Document sharing and collaboration
The ability to share and collaborate on multiple documents is integral to business productivity.
With the latest software, such as OneDrive for Business, multiple people can collaborate on the same document with any changes or comments made instantly visible to other users of the document in real time.
Settings can be adjusted to give different people variable levels of access to the document, depending on whether it’s necessary for them to be able to edit or just view.
Online meeting and conference software
Meetings are an important part of day-to-day business, allowing teams to use their collective brainpower to share, plan, and produce.
Software like Microsfot Teams or Skype for Business allows you to do everything from hosting HD video conferences to instant messaging as if everyone was in the office.
Calls can be managed with options to mute one or all participants and transfer presenter control.
And that’s just the start. You can record meetings, share your screen, and even annotate PowerPoint for real-time co-authoring. A digital whiteboard, polls, Q&A and built in instant messaging ensure you get maximum input from everyone in attendance, by gathering key data and ideas, and maximum output from the meeting as a whole.
An internal social network
The free flow of information is vital to productive and effective work processes. (And so is a bit of small talk to lubricate the info flow).
One of the things that is lost from remote working is ease and speed of face to face communication for urgent questions and quick answers.
But if you can’t just walk over to a colleague’s desk or meet them by the water cooler, isn’t something lost?
Using an internal social network such as Microsoft Yammer, team members can connect privately or in groups for instant messaging to speed up decision making.
Groups can be created around specific topics or specific projects, so only relevant parties need to be involved in discussions and decisions. This ensures efficient collaboration and faster problem solving.
Project management tools
Keeping everyone on track and working towards the same goals requires visibility of key tasks and goals.
Microsoft Teams acts as a hub for teamwork that brings together everyone’s chat’s, meetings, files and apps in one place, while Microsoft Planner enables users and teams to create plans, assemble and assign tasks, share files.
Chat and shared workspace also allow third parties such as partners and clients to collaborate securely as well, to ensure all players in a project can have their say and keep up to date with developments.
Thanks to integration with essential apps like Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, everyone is empowered to co-author and collaborate at all stages of a project.
Microsoft Office 365 for Business provides all the tools you need to ensure your business makes the most of flexible working and can help your team work better together.