Monday, 9 August 2021
While many small businesses or SMEs have managed to continue business-as-usual with work from home arrangements during the National Recovery Plan (NRP), they are operating nothing like a true virtual workforce. Find out what companies can do to achieve workforce productivity in this new normal.
A virtual workforce is when employees are able to digitally connect to perform daily operations online consistently and securely without any constraints on their geographical locations. The team works with documents in digitalised format, while processes and communications are digitized. Very often, it is made simple and easy with the right set of tools and solutions within a virtual ecosystem.
A proper setup will be able to improve collaboration and information sharing between teams while enhancing productivity. Phone calls, emails, instant messaging and free zoom calls may have worked as a short term remedy to working from home, but companies serious at forming a sustainable and long-term work-from-home policy will have to factor in a digitalization strategy and proper collaborative environment that allows engaged interaction, secured file sharing and efficient project management.
The basis of a virtual workforce is for teams to be able to operate online uninterrupted and be productive. The best out-if-the-box solutions should be easy to subscribe, require minimal maintenance, is highly reliable and easy to scale up. That is when a SaaS model can help with easy scaling and maintenance.
Here is a quick list of technology basics every SME need to easily set up a virtual workforce:
Ideally, your remote team need access to fast and quality internet in order to use the online tools. Businesses can easily overcome the problem of slow broadband connection faced by their work from home employees by provisioning them with subscription to fast mobile internet like 4G and above.
A collaboration platform is a set of software tools and applications that allows for video conferencing, social interactions, networking and filesharing within an organization. These platforms operate in the context of work processes allowing users to incorporate knowledge management and project management tools into business processes and thus allow for easy information sharing.
Some of these tools are web-based and does not need local installation on a laptop, while others may be application based and also comes with a mobile version for light use. Some of the top collaborative tools available in the market are:
When you are trying to collaborate with a group remotely, getting on a video conference call is one of the sure way to get everyone on the same page. You might want to look for a tool that can accommodate all the members of the team in one go. The ideal video conference tool allows you to share screens, record meetings, change background images to add fun themes during meetings, and so on. Popular examples are Zoom, Google Meet, Webex and Skype.
The main feature of the tool is for collaborative sharing and tracking of project indicators like work hours, timelines, progress, project deliveries and issues. Additionally, the tool simplifies resource allocation, reporting, and cost controlling of a project. Some of the best available options include Asana, Trello, Basecamp and Jira.
Think of Dropbox, Github, and OneDrive. These platforms provide a shared storage location that can be accessed from anywhere and anytime regardless of the device used. File sharing tools simplify administration tasks, help with better managing and tracking of work assets.
Look out for these important features when selecting the right solution:
Not all job functions are the same. Some may require access to highly confidential and sensitive data which can only reside on a secure server. Roles such as database administrator, financial controller, product developer and sales analyst should have VPN to provide secure remote access to the company’s intranet infrastructure and databases.
Technology provides the ecosystem but it alone does not guarantee productivity. Where do you draw the line between inherent lack of interaction and too much screen time? To make work from home genuinely effective, companies should craft and adopt proper work from home policies and build a healthy work culture.
Work policies and processes must be updated to include the new modes of communications, expectations on the employee’s timing requirements, email, call and chat response times, dedicated workspace expectations, virtual meeting schedules, accountability, and so on.
Promote health and wellness initiatives, get frequent feedback from the employees, and encourage communication among the team to foster better personal connections.
Managers need to avoid micromanaging and try to gauge productivity in terms of outcome and not actual work hours spent. Measuring performance incentivizes employees to perform better regardless of their screen time and also produces better results.
With these basic components in place and policies established, SMEs are on the right course to creating an ecosystem optimized for a virtual workforce. To ensure there are no collaboration gaps and communication lags within the organization, it makes sense to invest in the right tools. It is imperative to invest in a secure VPN, collaboration tool, video conferencing tool, and project management tool. Choosing a shared cloud storage is another pre-requisite. Additionally, develop a solid practice for work from home and watch as your company productivity improves.
Celcom is an end-to-end technology provider that can satisfy all your network infrastructure needs starting from internet access to efficient digital workplace solutions. We are an expert in digitization and a leading technology innovator who can craft the right solution that fits your business model. Consult our sales personnel for more information on Celcom’s business solutions.