There is one distinct advantage that technology has brought to the workplace – the ability to connect remotely and work from just about anywhere in the world. This is providing both businesses and employees greater flexibility. Not only can employees work from home or off site locations, but organisations can access talent and expertise from around the world. (Sometimes even making use of time zone differences to improve project continuity and efficiency.)
However, engaging a remote workforce is not without its challenges, especially as many organisations use old outdated technology for project collaboration. Email is great for one-on-one communication but can get messy when there are multiple recipients. Similarly multiple people working on the same spreadsheets can make it difficult to determine which one is most up to date.
Research shows that team members on average use five different tools to manage projects which is not the most efficient way of doing things as the lack of integration can hinder collaboration. Does this mean that old technology should make way for new? Or should businesses rather rethink their remote control?
Keys for successful remote working
To make the concept of a remote workforce more efficient, organisations need to have a clearer understanding of what tools are available that will facilitate better collaboration. Here are some key elements to consider:
Project Management – A cloud based centralized system can help facilitate better project management by improving security, workflows and management ability. Individual projects can be coordinated through virtual office hubs that manage the remote workforce. At any given time project managers can update clients on project progress and see who is working on specific tasks. Gantt charts can be incorporated into the cloud based project management system to facilitate this.
Planning and scheduling – Tied in with project management is the ability to schedule tasks for remote workforce members according to their specific expertise within the centralised cloud system. Online team planning meetings can be coordinated and outcomes can be linked into the project schedule.
Document sharing – One of the biggest challenges is when people are simultaneously working on documents and at the end of the day it’s difficult to determine what’s the latest updated version. Cloud based document sharing can track who makes what changes while viewing the latest version. Some technologies allow different levels of access for people in different roles which improves document integrity and security.
Task coordination – Kanban boards with specific remote workforce member tasks resemble small post-it notes can be linked into the Gantt charts. This enables team members and managers to view tasks at a glance and see progress. It can also help manage workloads and identify who may be available to take on new tasks, or who needs help with their workload.
While there are many cloud based systems available, organisations need to be careful about choosing one that is specific to their needs. Many promise nice sounding optional extras but in reality the simpler the remote workforce management tools the more likely team members are to use them and the easier it will be to co-ordinate projects.
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