If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that you should always expect the unexpected.
From a technology perspective, one of the best ways to be prepared for whatever surprises life throws at you is to become “location agnostic.” Location agnostic is a term we coined early last year to describe the ability that companies now have, using the correct technology, to allow employees to work from anywhere – from your workplace to the home office to an RV in Arizona — with zero interruptions in their day-to-day routine. Becoming location agnostic takes organization, discipline, and a change in routine but ultimately leads to improved efficiency and greater workplace resilience.
While the world prepares to go “back to normal” in some sense with the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, now is the time to learn from the past and prepare for the future – so that the next time the inevitable unexpected event forces you and/or your employees to adapt quickly, you’ll be ready. Here are our six tips for becoming location agnostic and keeping your remote employees efficient and effective.
- Nix all paper: If your company relies on paper documentation in any way, it’s time to convert to digital. Whether it’s bills, invoices, purchase orders, time reporting, vacation requests, or proposals , when you’re using paper, you’re also creating an anchor in the office. To convert to paper-less, start by scanning existing files by hand and sorting the files. Once you have your files uploaded, set up a filing system that mimics (or improves upon) the way you organized your files in the office. (Think digital filing cabinet.) Once you have your existing documents scanned and organized, it’s time to get disciplined about how documents are transferred among employees. The first and most important step is to set up an office-wide protocol for file-sharing: Get rid of your physical inbox and require all employees to send documents electronically. If this seems daunting, our experts can organize a digitization process for your company to streamline the process of converting to paperless. Click here to reach out to a specialist now.
- Install a remote desktop: If you want to take this a step further and become more than just location agnostic, you can even become device agnostic. To do this, you need to install a remote desktop service. Meaning, you can walk into any location (the hotel lobby, a library, your friend’s laptop, etc.) and access your desktop along with your server, files, programs, etc.
- Use the cloud: We’ve already said you need to get rid of paper. But once the files are digitized, you’ll need a secure and efficient place to store and share them. Enter “the cloud.” Cloud services such as DropBox and OneDrive allow you and your team to access files from anywhere. After all, if you’re going to be location agnostic and device agnostic, your documents and files need to be as well.
- Go mobile: Because remote work is by-definition mobile, it’s vital for employers to provide team members with laptops, tablets, and mobile phones rather than desktop computers and office phones. Personal computers are more vulnerable to cyberattacks, so to avoid data breaches, provide devices that have been optimized with security tools and monitored on an on-going by your IT provider.
- Convert to smarter software: Businesses must provide staff with digital tools and platforms to help them working efficiently and effectively –– but not just any tools, they must be the right tool for the task at hand. With the right combination of software and tools, businesses can recreate and even improve upon in-office productivity from any location. There are three primary software systems that all companies need to become location agnostic. Every team needs these elements in some capacity, but depending on your industry, you’ll want to select the software systems that best prioritize your needs. (Need assistance? We’ll consult with your team and recommend the best products. Click here to reach out.)
- Team Communication Software
- Our recommendations: Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Slack
- These tools help you connect and chat with you team members. You can chat, create sub-groups for meetings, scheduling video conferencing, and stay in the loop all hours of the day.
- Team Collaboration Software:
- Our recommendations: DropBox, Google Docs, Google Suite
- When everyone was in the office, your team could go to the conference room, grab a whiteboard or a pad of paper, and everyone could easily contribute to a brainstorm. In a location-agnostic setting, you need a way to share a file and let everyone have their input in real-time. These team collaboration software systems allow you to easily share comments, questions, and ideas on documents and files in real-time.
- Team Management Software:
- Our recommendations: Synchroteams, SmartSheets
- These tools help you track exactly what your team is working on, any given time of the day. Team members can update you with their current projects with notes and status reports along the way. These systems create a simple way of keeping up with your people, recreating the office-era practice of taking a loop around the office and checking in through quick conversations.
- Work with an IT provider that specializes in remote support: Not all IT companies function the same. Most service providers are designed to support in-office employees, rather than distributed workforces. Make sure you interview IT providers prior to hiring them to assess whether or not their team is capable of handling a remote or distributed team. Supporting distributed workforces and location agnostic teams is one of our specialties at STEADfast IT. To speak with an expert for a free, no-pressure consultation, click here.
How STEADfast IT can make your remote team more effective
STEADfast IT has years of experience working with multi-location businesses and organizations that rely on a distributed workforce – ensuring their remote employees are productive, secure, and engaged.
Follow along on our blog and attend our free webinar on Tuesday, March 23 at noon to get the information you need to avoid cyber threats and improve your remote technology infrastructure.
Reach out to our experts and discuss a personalized remote workforce solution for your business through our free network assessment.