Sometimes, companies begin to investigate how to enable employees to work remotely because employees or management want it. And other times, companies scramble to figure out how to enable their business to run remotely because of unforeseen circumstances, like the state of our world right now. No matter the reason you are currently looking into setting up remote working options, there are many benefits to having the ability to enable employees to work remotely.
Being set up for remote working allows your business to:
- Be flexible in the time of crisis, such as the current COVID-19 outbreak.
- Attract the best talent, no matter their location.
- Have cross-office communication, collaboration, and consistency if you have multiple office locations.
- Allow your employees to have more control over their own working hours and environment.
Now that you are looking at how to implement a remote working solution, this primer on software essentials will help you find the best tools to enable your workforce to be productive wherever they are.
Essentials for Your Business to Run Remotely
No matter what industry you are in, there are a few non-negotiables that you will need to have in place before rolling out ways for your business to run remotely across your organization:
- Tools for effective communication
Most important is to have a way for employees to effectively communicate with each other and with your customers and clients, if needed. This could be an audio/video conferencing solution like Zoom, Blue Jeans, or Google Meet. It could be a chat client like Skype for Business, Google Chat, or Slack. It could be enhanced use of email as well. It could be a combination of all three.
While focusing on the latest and greatest in remote conferencing and collaboration, it’s important to not forget the workhorse of business communication: the phone. Depending on your industry, your employees are going to need a way for your clients and customers to get in touch, and that usually means forwarding their calls. Are you going to ask them to use their personal phones? Are you going to supply phones? Is there a custom solution that will allow them to use their computers? These are important questions to have answers to before cutting your employees loose from the office.
- A way to track working time and, if needed, what you are working on
Another important software need for enabling employees to work remotely is a way for them to track their working time. Online work hour tracking is very helpful for employees that need to submit weekly or biweekly timesheets for payroll purposes.
If you’re in an industry that needs to track individual projects, for instance lawyers or public accountants that need to track billable hours, another layer for tracking time spent on specific projects may be needed. Some great off-the-shelf options include Harvest and Clockify.
- Project management tools
If you have a number of remote teams, you will also need project management tools that can help them stay on task and avoid duplicating efforts. Tools like Asana, Trello, or Basecamp can really help teams be productive, even if they can’t be face-to-face. If you find that an out of the box solution isn’t meeting your needs, a custom solution can often be built that will enable your teams to work remotely as productively as they would in the office.
Requirements of Custom Software for Your Business to Run Remotely
Many businesses have a unique need that may not be solved by generic off the shelf software mentioned above. Have you ever thought about if a custom software solution could replicate the processes they use in the office every day?
There are many things that companies need to do on a consistent basis like payroll, time tracking, and other processes that there’s a good off-the-shelf fit for. However, there are other unique and proprietary processes that your business operates off of that you need a custom software solution for. If that’s the case, there are a few different pieces you should consider prioritizing.
Criteria for Custom Software Built for Remote Work:
- Lives in the cloud
Using the cloud, in general, enables you to have software that is accessible from anywhere that you can use a computer or smartphone. It doesn’t require you to have to be in a physical building on a physical network with internally hosted software. Not to mention that all of your data can now live here too. This is crucial if you want your employees to be able to access it anywhere in the world.
- Designed for all devices
Unless you are going to provide devices to your entire workforce, you need to design a custom software solution that will be device neutral. Your employees are going to be using their own devices for remote working purposes and they will need to be able to access your custom software regardless of the OS they are using or the company that manufactured their device.
- Removes manual or paper process
If you want a custom software solution that enables employees to work away from the office, it needs to replace any manual or paper processes currently in place. It’s not truly a fully remote working solution if it still requires someone to be in the office to complete the process.
Remote Working Software in the Real World
So what does this look like in action? One company we helped to create a successful custom software remote working solution was Holland Special Delivery. Prior to working with us, they relied on the software installed on local machines that required a VPN to use, along with three-ring binders of customer information to issue accurate invoices. Not only was their old software not accessible via the cloud, it didn’t accomplish the things they needed it to accomplish. Employees still had to export data to Excel for manipulation before reimporting it into the software to be able to use. We were able to build them a software system that is based in the cloud and can be accessed from any device that has an internet connection. This software also eliminated the need for employees to export the data they needed to Excel; they can do everything in their custom software. This software has freed up the office employees to work from anywhere they need to.
Additionally, drivers were required to come into the office to scan documentation about their deliveries at the end of the week. Our custom software eliminated these scanned documents as the primary source of data entry. Drivers are able to upload the information needed from their phones, and only have to drop by the physical paperwork as a secondary back-up source of information. Because this was already in place Holland Special Delivery has been able to continue their business even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
Custom Software for Remote Work
No matter what’s going on in the world at a given time, we’re seeing more and more that remote work is going to be crucial for the future. If you want more information about how custom software can empower your workforce to work remotely, then schedule a free consultation today.