COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly, globally and its impact is being felt in every kind of business. There are a range of interrelated issues that employers are trying to navigate in a bid to keep their employees and customers safe while forging a workable plan to keep their businesses running.
Israel has developed antibodies against Novel Coronavirus while Italy claimed the world's first coronavirus vaccine for which human trials will begin soon. But it will take a while before they clear trials and become widely available. Till then business will need to figure out ways to stay operational while maintaining social distancing norms to contain COVID-19
Amazon has told its employees that they can work from home till October 2020. Scores of other businesses have also given green signals to telecommuting. Telecommuting is a method of working wherein employees work from home and connects with coworkers, customers and suppliers using technology. Today telecommuting is gaining popularity among employees and employers. But the fact is that it was always there. It was just not popular. More than two decades back, on September 20, 1994, about 32,000 AT&T employees worked-from-home as part of an experiment. From front line employee to CEO to phone operators were part of it to explore how far they can stretch, if need arises for telecommuting. Companies in the likes of Thomson Reuters and Accenture have been encouraging their employees to telecommute aka work-from-home routinely to better prepare for business contingency for over a decade now. Their efforts indeed must be paying them good dividends these days.
The benefits of telecommuting is not just limited to blue chip companies. Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, plenty of companies are forced to embrace telecommuting. COVID-19 is changing the world and is changing the way businesses operate or more precisely, where and how people work.
Remote work is no more a trend - it’s here to stay. Entrepreneurs, startups and every kind of business needs to get familiar with equipment, productivity software and supplies that will help their workers and vendors perform routine business tasks with least friction. Here I have rounded up 5 essential tools that eliminate the need for an employee to be in the office to become a productive member of the team.
For companies planning to transition their workforce into work-from-home, should think of VPN as the first thing. Virtual private network (VPN) makes it possible for employees to establish a secure connection with the company’s remote computer network. This is a must have if your company deals with sensitive customer data or confidential information. It is even more important considering the fact that not all employees may be connected to secured internet connections. Some may accidently or knowling connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots and pave the way for data breach.
Video conference calls
Skype and Zoom both are an excellent option to have regular video calls for updates and important discussion with the team. It's a versatile app that you can use on a desktop, mobile app or tablet. The simple interface allows you to quickly add new contacts, send messages and share documents.
Both the productivity tools also have a screen sharing option which means a participant can quickly share their computer screen with the rest of the participants.
Audio conference calls
Video calls are good every once a while. But using them several times a day can be a productivity killer. Conference tools such as Zoom and Skype have options enabled by default for video communications. Therefore instead of restricting to just one tool, it’s good to have multiple options. Use video calls only when required. For the rest of the time let the team or customers catch up on Voice Telephony or Audio Conferencing Solution such as the one provided by mobtexting.com. This limits the possibility of accidentally intruding into someone's personal life.
Home setup is very different from office setup and is personal. Not every employee may have the luxury of dedicating a room for office work nor can we confine other family members to the corner of the house everytime there is an official call.
Project management tool
Productive tools such as Kanban or Monday become essential when working from home. These are popular project management tools that make it easy for teams to collaborate and work together on most kinds of projects. The dashboard provides a bird's-eye view of each project and its progress. Project management tools help teams support each other, align, collaborate in an agile-like process and keep in touch at every stage of the project. This is one of the most important tools for digital collaboration especially when teams are scattered as it helps workers stay connected and engaged through regular conversations and activities.
Some people demonstrate excellent productivity while working from home but for many it offers more distraction than any opportunity for productivity. If that's the case with you then self discipline skills and time management will go a long way. Tools like Clockify and Toggl will help you efficiently manage your time and helps ensure dedicated projects are moving along. Time management tools help you schedule tasks and track the time spent on each project. Though it is not helpful for companies to know how employees are spending their time. It rather helps employees track how much time different projects and tasks are taking them and help them plan accordingly and keep the teams and other stakeholders updated.
COVID-19 has forced a chunk of the working population to become remote workers. For most, it's the first time experience. It is equally difficult for startups, businesses and entrepreneurs to cop with online working and accept it as a new normal. Hope the productivity tools described above will help you gear up your workforce to rapidly adjust to the changing needs of the customers, vendors and navigate financial and operational challenges of running a business.
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