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Seven Trends Driving Remote Workplace Collaboration

June 19, 2017

Seven Trends Driving Remote Workplace Collaboration

The workplace is undergoing a rapid transformation because of converging technological and economic developments. Employees are no longer always tied to a single office and often work from a variety of locations including home, hotels, temporary offices, and from the road. Workgroups expand around the world and often across company boundaries. The extensive adoption of cloud applications and mobile devices, such as smartphones, softphones, and tablets, is changing the way workers interact with each other. Users who are frustrated with the lack of equivalent, corporate-approved collaboration applications often turn to consumer-collaborative services such as Skype and Facebook. Remote work continues to trend upward, with 2014 posting a 26 percent increase in open remote job postings over 2013. Some of the main drivers shaping these trends include:

  1. Improved Employee Productivity – Employees who telecommute can be more effective at home than when they work at a desk in the office. The main reason appears to be that the multiple interruptions at the office create a work pattern that causes repeated restarts. These interruptions occur when coworkers or supervisors stop by to chat. The restarts from these interruptions take additional time because employees must figure out where they left off prior to the interruption. Though social interactions at work can be important to employees, they can also detract from concentration.  

  2. Flexible Schedules – Telecommuters are more productive when they can schedule their work hours during the most effective times during the day and around the other demands in their lives. Some individuals are morning people; others are more productive at night.  Telecommuters have the ability to schedule work to accommodate their own internal clocks and can more easily balance work with the other needs in their lives.

  3. Increased Time Available for Work – Reducing the commute of employees saves them time, money, and stress, thus allowing them extra time to complete projects.  Additional savings of productive time are often realized as a result of the reduced use of sick time to meet personal or family needs. Telecommuters are less likely to take a sick day in order to be home for deliveries or repairs, or to take children to appointments.

  4. Reduced Overhead – Organizations with well-planned telecommuting programs can reduce space and furniture requirements for employees. Organizations with many telecommuters can reduce their office space requirements, reduce rent, and move to the desk and resource sharing model at company facilities. Some organizations treat office space like hotel suites that can be reserved in advance or assigned when telecommuters come in on days when they don’t telecommute. An individual’s telephone number can be routed to whichever office suite they are occupying on that day. Also, some organizations provide sophisticated telecommunications services for their telecommuters. For example, office telephone numbers can be routed seamlessly to anywhere the employee happens to be: a regular office, a shared suite, a client’s location, or the home office. The caller has no way of knowing where the person is at the time of the call. Organizations have reported up to 30 percent reductions in overhead by having sales and service personnel telecommute.

  5. Improved Employee Retention and Attraction – Many employees, especially those who have experienced the benefits of telecommuting programs, often prefer these work arrangements and seek out similar opportunities.  These employees are attracted to positions and organizations that offer telecommuting programs. Furthermore, by offering telecommuting, existing employees will want to stay with their current company, which can decrease training expenses.

  6. Rampant Mobility – Ever-increasing mobile device use is transforming the workspace. As a result, work is no longer a place; rather, it's the use of collaboration tools with a variety of locations in coordination with individuals from around the world. Telecommuters can use company-provided or BYOD mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as softphones, to perform their jobs just as well as they can from a fixed office desk.

  7. Standards and Security – IT is faced with growing competition from consumer services. Failing to provide suitable business collaboration tools means that users will on their own use applications outside of IT's control. This leads to a lack of company-wide collaboration standards as well as the inability to enforce security, risk, and compliance standards.

IT and business leaders must accept that the virtual workforce demands more robust and interactive business collaboration capabilities. At the same time, IT leaders must understand that keeping up with the changing pace of consumer technology is often impossible or risky. The need to develop a migration and/or integration path for legacy systems is imperative, while also addressing governance, compliance, and security requirements. For those working from home with limited in-person contact with coworkers, legacy tools such as phones and audio conferences are likely to be pre-empted by video, chat, and social collaboration applications. VARs can show benefits to business leaders and their employees and then equip them with the tools that will provide the value companies are looking for with collaboration today.

Are there remote collaboration issues that should be discussed in this blog? Comment here: