Remote workplaces need the right social support systems for telecommuting employees and the correct set of productivity tools to ensure task efficiency and employee engagement.
If you’ve been online enough, you’ve probably seen offers of work from home opportunities featuring beautiful looking people working on a laptop from the beach. Although technically possible, I don’t think the beach is really the most effective place to work given the sand, wind, water, and the constant temptation to ditch the laptop and catch the great waves.
Working from the beach is not what remote work is all about.
While many workers are in pursuit of the perfect home office, and dozens of lifestyle and business websites offer tips and tricks to assemble the ideally decorated, yet functional, personal workspace. But the way we REALLY work on the road is more ambiguous.
Technology Enables Workplace Efficiency and Flexibility
Our office may be a home base, but the road is always a wild card. Some of us make stops to work in coffee shops, while some of us do business from our vehicles. Others log on from our trailers on-the-go, or right in the middle of construction sites.
Your office away from the office could be anywhere, but no matter where or how you work on the road, there are a handful of essential tools for staying in touch with coworkers and clients.
1. Skype for Remote Work
Skype is a video conferencing classic, but when Microsoft acquired it in 2011, it expanded well beyond a simple video chat app. Skype now works on desktops, tablets, smartphones, and even the Xbox to offer video conferencing, text messaging, and screen sharing services.
Skype is quickly becoming an industry standard, and is not fully-integrated into Microsoft Office 365 — making it the most versatile and reliable choice for video conferencing.
2. Join.me for Product Demos
Skype is great for a video chat with your boss, but speaking with prospective clients requires something more flexible and professional. Join.me is a web-based video conferencing app that allows anyone to call in or video conference using just a phone or browser.
What makes it different from Skype? It’s more intuitive for users who are less tech-savvy, and it’s a great option for those who don’t want to download dedicated software. After all, nothing frustrates a client faster than asking, “Could you download this app before calling in?”
The platform also offers screen sharing capabilities so you can show your work in real time to anyone on the other side. Join.me is a great go-to method for chatting with clients on the road.
3. Satellite Phone
If your job requires driving in remote areas between cities, you could be left without cell phone service when it’s needed most. Even Verizon Wireless, which touts its extensive and reliable coverage, doesn’t reach every corner of the nation, especially in the American West.
A satellite phone like the Iridium GO!, however, is one of the only ways to guarantee you can access a phone call anytime, anywhere in the world. The Iridium offers phone calls, data access to email, photo sharing, and GPS navigation.
4. Dropbox for Business
Dropbox is an industry standard for consumer-level cloud storage and file sharing, but its business account offers features beyond what’s available to the personal user. Dropbox folder owners or admins can see and control user access, setting permissions for each person in your company. And since most businesses deal in sensitive data, Dropbox keeps all files behind a securely-encrypted wall to keep out prying eyes.
Some of Dropbox’s best features are the ways it integrates with thousands of apps like Microsoft Office. Even if your company uses local storage or a VPN to store files, insist to your boss that a small Dropbox account should be set up to handle a limited number of files on the road.
Remote Work is Here to Stay
Many organizations are turning to remote work or telecommuting options for employees as a means of acquiring talented employees not in the geographic boundaries of the corporate office.
If employers effectively manage employees who work remotely, and if organizations implement the right principles of communication between teams working virtually, and if employees maintain the same level of focus on their assignments while working out of the office as they do in the office, working virtually (or telecommuting) can indeed increase operating efficiencies, employee productivity, and overall work satisfaction and engagement.
Working outside of the traditional can be an effective option for employees that need greater flexibility in when, where, and how work gets done.