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What You Need to Successfully Work from Home

Individual working on their computer from home or a coffee shop

When you work from home for any length of time, you’ll come to understand that there are certain things that you need in order to get your job done. Depending on the type of work you do, you could need different tools. Today, let’s take a look at some of the most important tools your business can use to find success with a remote workforce.

A lot of people have been working from home for over a year, and many of them haven’t had access to the tools they need. This list is by no means comprehensive, but if you plan on sustaining your remote operations, or if you are thinking about going to a hybrid model with your operations, consider these tools the most crucial ones to invest in.

Video Conferencing

If you’ve been supporting remote operations for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out that in order to have meetings that mean anything you will need a solution to allow people to meet together. Video conferencing software is this tool; and there are a lot of options out there. In fact, many video conferencing tools are integrated into other software.

For the business, video conferencing is useful because it allows you to operate as if the team you are meeting with is all in the same room together. Moreover, this software is not only useful for collaborative purposes, it is also crucial for today’s sales team. Most people who work with computers are set up for a video conference already, and if they aren’t, the cost to be is marginal.

Here at Macatawa Technologies, we use Microsoft Teams for online communication with our team, including messaging, announcements, and weekly team meetings.

In this hybrid world, we have also been hosting virtual webinars via Microsoft Team’s Live Event option. Watch the latest video here.

Instant Messaging

Let’s get this out of the way first, instant messaging can be a double-edged sword. It can be extremely useful, but it can also backfire when poorly implemented. For remote workers, however, it is an essential tool. In fact, one study found that companies that lean on instant messaging (and other collaborative tools outside of email) found that productivity regularly increases by 20-to-25 percent.

Instant messaging, and more specifically collaboration tools designed to streamline workplace conversations and enable teams to operate without restraint, are major benefits to any business. If your staff is working remotely, these tools become almost mandatory.

Again, our team uses Microsoft Teams for our instant messaging, as well as for company-wide announcements. This allows our team to continue to communicate efficiently as some work from the office and some at home.

Customer Relationship Management

Every business needs some level of customer support. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, a piece of software that is often found integrated into more end-to-end management solutions, can cut down on the resources needed to support your business. It does this by providing a lot of the tools needed to keep your customers happy.

Integrated into a CRM is usually a ticketing system for customer support, a scheduling module so that everyone that works on a task has access to files and information, and useful automation tools that allow a business to maintain focus on the revenue-generating tasks and not supporting its support structure. The CRM gives a company the ability to maintain communication channels between their customer base and the workers that support the production and sales teams. It’s an extremely important tool for any growing small business, especially if their workers aren’t centralized.

Cloud Computing

Remote workers need access to business files, and the easiest, and most cost effective way to make this a reality is by using cloud-based tools. Not only is cloud storage comparably priced, you can get about any tool your business needs in the cloud nowadays. In fact, one of the most important tools your business can have, its backup and recovery device, should be pushing a backup of your data to the cloud to ensure that if something happens to your business, that your data will be protected.

There are many more options than just cloud backup and storage, however. In fact, many small businesses and startups are using the cloud exclusively for their IT dissemination. You can get servers that support hundreds of remote employees, you can get security software, and communications tools. If you can host it on your server, you can get it in the cloud today.

Are you looking to implement a cloud-based tool for your team? We have an educational video on all the questions you need to ask about Azure and the cloud. Watch this video here.

Onboarding Tools

Hiring new remote employees can sometimes be tricky. That’s why it’s important that you have the tools you need to get them onboarded. Not only do they need to understand the procedures and policies in your employee handbook, they also need to get up to speed on the software tools you use quickly so they can be a productive part of the workforce.

Today, there are Learning Management Systems (LMS) that can not only train your employees on the numerous parts of their jobs, they can work to make them job-ready faster. Many pieces of business software come with their own training platform, but for those that don’t, integrating a customizable LMS can be an effective way to cut down on your onboarding costs and get your new people up to speed faster.

Learn More About #WFH

Regardless of how your business plans on operating as we transition out of this extraordinarily frustrating period, these tools can help you get a grip on your business. If you would like to talk to one of our IT experts about hybrid business strategies or talk about the pros and cons of going fully remote, give us a call at (616) 394-4940 today.

If you would like to simply learn more about the security and technology behind working from home, visit our educational series.


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