Working Remotely Does Not Have To Mean Working Differently
During the first half of 2020, workers everywhere have had to come to grips with the COVID-19 outbreak. Not only did the pandemic impact our personal lives, but it also caused severe disruption for virtually all businesses. It also forced many individuals to work from home. For some, remote working is second nature because they do it every day. For others, transitioning to this new environment was challenging at best, and it remains that way for many. However, with current technologies, working remotely does not have to mean working differently. Further, productivity need not suffer! Organizations of all sizes should learn from the challenges the pandemic presented and create better remote working arrangements for the future.
Remote Working Is More Than Just Remote Access
Traditional remote working arrangements involve using a browser-based tool to access a computer at the office from a distant location. Tools such as LogMeIn, TeamViewer, RealVNC, and others all provide adequate capabilities at modest price points. Remote workers simply access their office computer through their web browser. Then they can generally perform any action remotely that they would otherwise undertake on their computer.
Some Issues With Browser-Based Remote Access
While this arrangement is adequate is some cases, issues can arise. First, the “host” computer must be running 24/7. Otherwise, in the absence of “wake-on-LAN” technologies, the team member will not be able to connect to the host. Second, audio and visual performance sometimes is less than ideal, which creates a negative experience for the remote worker and could hamper productivity. Third, depending on the browser-based service used, the team member may not be able to work in a multi-monitor environment, further affecting productivity. Fourth, while browser-based tools support accessing a computer from a remote location, generally, they do not support other necessary elements of a successful remote work strategy including communication and collaboration. In sum, while these types of tools might be adequate for occasional remote work environments, they generally do not offer all that is necessary for working remotely over extended timeframes.
Consider A Holistic Approach To Working Remotely
For many, a better option is to consider an end-to-end approach that creates a productive environment for remote working. Such an approach does not focus on piecemeal technologies. Instead, it takes into account all the needs of all team members – including traditional and remote workers. Then, management selects a unified technology platform that addresses these needs. In this environment, there is only one way of working. Therefore, when team members need to work away from traditional office environments, they use the same tools as when they work in the office. Of course, this means that working remotely does not translate to working differently.
Better Ways To Access Your Computer
Taking a holistic approach to accessing your computer means that you will always work from a remote computer. However, instead of using a browser-based method, you could use hosted virtual computers. Some of the leading providers in this market include AbacusNext, Ace Cloud Hosting, Cetrom, and Right Networks. In this environment, you access your computer and all your applications from a remote, virtual computer that you “lease” from your service provider for a monthly fee. This type of arrangement provides professional management of your device, data, security, and application updates. Moreover, it created a unified approach for accessing your computer, no matter the location from which you are working.
Also Consider In-House, Virtual Computers
Alternatively, you could deploy an “in-house” hosted computer option. In this scenario, you and your team would still access hosted computers. However, instead of them being hosted by a third-party, they would be hosted on your servers (or servers you lease in a data center) and managed by your team members (or external service providers with whom you contract.) In either case, these in-house, hosted computers would again provide a single approach to accessing your desktop.
Reduce Your Dependency On Desktop Applications
For many professionals, the need for a traditional computer is still present. However, for many others transitioning to Cloud-based services and suites could be all that is necessary to facilitate a productive remote work environment. For example, using a Cloud-based application suite such as Microsoft 365/Office 365, G Suite by Google, and Zoho One is a terrific option for staying on top of email and working with spreadsheets, presentations, and word processing documents – all from Cloud-based applications. Further, you can store these documents in secure, Cloud-based storage environments. Then you can access them from virtually any device with an Internet connection. Additionally, you will be able to collaborate with other users at the same time on the same document, further increasing productivity.
Other Cloud-based applications will also reduce your dependency on a traditional computer, and enable your remote work strategy. For example, Zoho One provides an alternative to Microsoft Office applications such as Excel and Word. It also provisions Cloud-based accounting, customer relationship management, marketing tools, and website analytics. In total, Zoho One offers over 40 integrated Cloud-based tools to create a complete solution for small to mid-sized businesses.
Keep Communication And Collaboration Needs In Mind
One of the biggest challenges a remote worker faces is staying in touch with key customers/clients and other team members. When in-person meetings are simply not practical, you can communicate with others effectively using one of many options. Among the better ones are Microsoft Teams and Zoom – both Cloud-based tools. Both facilitate multi-participant meetings, including screen sharing and video options for those who need them. Further, recognizing the reality that, for many, working remotely means working from home, both tools allow you to add a custom background to your video meetings, increasing your perceived professional appearance.
don't forget your internet access
Of course, all the approaches outlined above depend upon consistent, high-speed Internet access. If you do not have this type of access available, you should investigate your options for switching service providers. Further, if you do not have any viable options available, stay alert for the availability of 5G cellular connectivity. When that does become available, you may find connection speeds up to 20 times faster than fiber connections today!
The first half of 2020 will go down in history as one of the most disruptive in the history of the world, and no technology available today will change that fact. However, there are many lessons to be learned, and one of these is that working remotely does not necessarily equate to working differently.
By strategically considering the options available today, you can create an environment in which you and your team always use the same technologies to get your jobs done, no matter the location from which you are working. Not only does this environment work well in times of emergency, it also works well for other situations such as auditors and consultants working at client locations, salespersons visiting customers, and tax professionals working from home during tax season. You simply need to carefully consider how a holistic approach to accessing your applications and data can improve your efficiency. Then decide the appropriate mix of technology to help you meet your objectives. Once you do, you will notice that your productivity need not suffer because you are not working in the office.