Online Businesses and the Era of the Digital ‘Remote’ Workplace By Website Properties
As a leading online business broker and expert website broker, we can see when trends begin to become important considerations to most website owners. And, the virtual workplace is fast joining an area worthy of important consideration.
Since maybe 5 minutes after the creation of the internet, people have been telling us that it would be the ‘future’ of work, it would represent a paradigm shift in how we use our time and nothing would ever be the same again.
Well, fast forward more than a few decades and though the internet has changed life as we know it, the majority of us still deal with the traditional drudgery of work: we sit in traffic, to go sit in an office, or maybe fly 100’s or 1000’s of miles to meet with other clients or companies.
The current coronavirus pandemic might be the major historical event that causes us to collectively wake up and say, “There’s a better workplace for those of us supporting an online business!”. At the very least it has effectively become a forced trial run for these technologies and what they mean for the future of work. Whether we find ourselves in that promised future where many of us have the freedom to work from home remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter is that things are unlikely to ever go back to the status quo.
Though many of us are experiencing that feeling of being trapped in our homes, we’re adapting rapidly to make our home and work life more comfortable in the face of isolation, and that means adopting new technologies to achieve not only our personal but our professional goals.
So let’s look at some of the methods and tools that are seeing rapid adoption in the professional sphere to help manage teams big and small.
Video Conferencing: This is probably one of the biggest technologies to see rapid adoption during the crisis. This can largely be attributed to the very important fact that not only are people arranging for their professional meetings to head online, but people are jumping both-feet-first into living their social lives via video chat.
Beyond the technological advances that have pushed video conferencing to the forefront – the quality has never been better, and the interfaces more user-friendly – it clears an essential hurdle that remote working has always had trouble clearing: namely, it fulfills the same psychological needs as in-person communication. Unlike a conference call where people can’t take visual queues, video chat gives us the ability to read a person’s facial expressions and body language, a key aspect in collaborative work.
Some of the best software out there include: Zoom, Whereby, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams.
Time Management: This is another aspect of remote working that plagues the higher-ups: how do you know if your staff is truly being productive? One of the cardinal sins in this is the assumption that a given worker, provided the freedom to work from home, would just become lazy. But the fact of the matter is that time management needs to be a unique and measurable framework to assess productivity that reflects the remote work situation.
In recent years, plenty of platforms and software packages have delivered on this. While some allow ‘Big Brother’ levels of tracking (down to live screen-sharing when they’re on a company site), there are plenty that finds a happy medium and allow both the employer and employee to set, deliver on, and assess targets.
Industry leaders in remote team management products include: Monday, Asana, and Ally.
Communication: Most of us probably remember sending out our first email and the wonder of it all: the speed, ease, and novelty of it. But like so many promising technologies (and don’t get us wrong, email is still great), it ended up being adapted for use in a way that kind of worked, but not really. This is particularly true when it comes to the professional sphere, a world where it’s not uncommon to send a group email to people who are actually in the office with you at that moment. Add the fact that email chains can get out of control quickly and can end up loaded with unsearchable documents and a lifetimes worth of spam and it’s not hard to see why there needed to be a better way.
This new generation of communications or ‘chat’ apps provides a lot of features that some might find silly (emojis, gifs, etc.) but that provides an absolutely essential digital version of what we get with in-person communication. Academics call it the ‘watercooler factor’, these tools allow us to be our productive selves, but they also allow us the space to goof off and create inside jokes and discussions of personal interests: the building blocks of any strong team.
If you’re looking to amp up your team’s communication, check out: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Chanty.
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to getting the most out of a remote team. Just like office spaces aren’t created equally, it’s about finding what works for your given situation, and what gets the most out of your team.
With the current pandemic, it’s likely that we’ll see a major cultural shift towards attitudes about remote work, so it’s essential for any business owner to consider how they envision the evolution of their business in the face of this, and what tools work best.