The classic office with fixed working hours is becoming less and less important, and distributed teams are no longer unusual. In order to stay productive, however, they rely on software solutions with which they can communicate and collaborate efficiently to get things done wherever they work. A market overview.
With the increasing digitization of the economy, remote working and home office are becoming increasingly popular in many industries. The IT industry, in particular, is considered a pioneer when it comes to working remotely. Automattic, for example, the software company behind WordPress is known for its flexible, multicultural work culture. Of the approximately 250 employees employed by the popular collaboration service for developers, GitHub, 75 percent are said to work from their home office. GitLab, a GitHub competitor, is also known for pushing the remote work trend. Basecamp, one of the market leaders in the field of project management software, has not only practiced remote work successfully for years but has even written a well-regarded book about it (“Remote: Office not required”).
But nowadays, as the number of infections and deaths from the novel coronavirus rise drastically around the world, governments and companies across every industry are instituting more drastic measures to rein in the virus’s spread. The moves are causing companies to accelerate the already growing trend of working from home. Not only big firms such as Facebook, but Twitter and Amazon are also ramping up remote working orders to prevent coronavirus spread. Small and medium-sized businesses that want to contribute to the social distancing efforts that are taken place in the affected regions are also adopting remote work policies.
Advantages of working remotely
Remote working has many advantages. For starters, everyone is allowed to work where it is best for them, that is, where they can be most productive. Generally speaking, it is also quieter in your own home office than in a typical open-plan office. Many people believe that you’re more focused and can be more productive when you work in your home office. Others appreciate working from home because they can save themselves the long commutes to work and thus save time to accomplish more or to spend time with friends and family. The better compatibility of family and work, which is made possible by distributed work, is actually also one of the main advantages of working remotely.
Of course, remote work also has its pitfalls. As a recent study on collaboration and project management in Europe found, distributed teams find it particularly difficult to work together effectively. More than a third (37 percent) of the respondents said that poor communication was the main problem. But that’s not all. Proper remote working is not just about replacing in-person meetings with video conferencing tools just as Zoom or Google Hangouts. It also requires a new mindset and putting trust in your people.
Modern business apps can help you and your team with that. Here’s an overview of professional business tools for home office and remote working that allow teams to stay productive –– or even increase their productivity –– no matter where they work.
TrackingTime: Time tracking builds trust
Modern time tracking services can help companies working for remote work to build trust between employers and employees. Because the employees can record their services and working hours comfortably and in detail. Project managers and superiors then get an overview of the work done, no matter where it was done. TrackingTime is one of the modern time recording tools. A clear task manager, which presents all of its open tasks to the user, sorted by project, forms the heart of the system. Working times can be recorded in real-time using the stopwatch integrated in the task list. Time entries can also be edited manually at any time. Practical for distributed teams: On the online dashboard, each team member can see at any time what tasks the colleagues are currently working on.
Virtual workspaces for teams
Software manufacturers, architectural offices, design, marketing or Internet agencies, as well as service providers are increasingly using professional project management tools to efficiently manage project resources, schedules, responsibilities and so on. The market offer is large. By centrally managing project goals and tasks and integrating communication tools, they ensure better collaboration outside of the traditional office in complex projects.
Project and task management solutions such as Wrike, Jira, Asana and Trello are particularly suitable for agile teams. Wrike is a sophisticated solution from California, which offers an extensive feature set, many integration options, and mobile support. The main features of the modular productivity suite include task management, file sharing and communication tools such as comments, activity streams, and email integration.
Another alternative that has become increasingly popular lately is Trello. The software comes up with an innovative user interface, which is based on so-called Kanban boards and “card views” and presents information in a structured and clear manner. In this way, tasks can be grouped into lists, while projects and workgroups can be categorized into boards. Each task is shown as a card. Here you can create individual checklists, post comments and attach files. Discussions that arose during the processing of the task, as well as all associated documents, are saved centrally.
Chat instead of email
When team members don’t work together in the office, chat services can be valuable for companies like Slack, Google Hangouts Chat, and Microsoft Teams. They enable distributed teams to exchange views with any number of colleagues in private or public chat rooms and to easily share files with one another. All conversations are saved persistently so that you can search them at any time if necessary. Slack and Co. thus ensure more transparency and promote the exchange of knowledge among employees, no matter where and at what time they work. Another advantage: Modern chat tools offer numerous integration options with other business apps. All notifications sent by the team’s tools are displayed in predefined chat rooms. This means that all business-relevant discussions take place in one place.
Nowadays, permanent office jobs, long-term employment relationships and regular working hours are no longer a matter of course. With the increasing digitization and globalization of the economy, telework is becoming increasingly popular in many industries. Remote work plays a critical role, especially in times of coronavirus. Companies that are forced to let their employees work from their home office due to the current situation are well-advised to provide them with the right tools so that they can remain productive wherever they work.