Return To Work Guide

Do Hybrid Teams Need Remote Work Software?

As the pandemic became a catalyst for the (already predicted) rise of remote work, one thing became clear about the return to work — remote work software is a must for any teams who are hybrid or work from home. Even though two-thirds of employees want flexible working options to remain, only a fifth feel they have the technology that will support remote work options in the long term.  

So, what should employers know about getting their employees the remote collaboration software they need to work effectively as hybrid teams? According to a report by software review site TrustRadius, businesses are increasing their spending across four main areas: web conferencing (67%), collaboration (57%), remote desktop (52%), and security (41%). 

Here’s what organizations should know about making sure they get the remote team collaboration software they need to best support their employees.

Benefits of using remote collaboration software

Remote work software satisfies two major working trends that are likely to become the norm when we return to work. 

It supports flexible and hybrid working models

Firstly, remote team collaboration software enables a hybrid workforce to work effectively with each other. It gives teams the same access to information, whether they are adopting a hybrid or work from home model, have opted to be in-office full-time, or favor flexible working arrangements. 

It enables higher levels of automation and efficiency

The move to increased remote and flexible working is not just a necessary reaction to world events. For many organizations, it’s an opportunity to improve processes with remote work software and automation. McKinsey estimates that 88% of finance and insurance executives and 76% of IT and technology executives have increased implementation of automation or AI since the outbreak of COVID-19. As Forbes explains, this has significant benefits:

  • 70% of managers prefer candidates with some automation experience, due to the perception that this makes them more productive
  • It frees employees up for other ‘soft skills’ that automation isn’t capable of, such as interacting with customers, content creation, problem-solving, and designing new policies for better brand engagement
  • It allows for real-time collaboration and automatic updates for customers, freeing up time spent fielding calls or emails
  • It helps address your weaknesses, such as delays with on-time project delivery by keeping exact deliverables such as due dates clear and automatically prioritizing workloads

How to implement remote work software for hybrid teams

Figure out the ‘why’ for remote collaboration software

While you may think remote team collaboration software may need to include employee tracking software such as mouse movement trackers, these won’t actually tell you a lot about productivity or results. According to Forbes, you will first need to figure out the ‘why’ — what kind of data do you hope to collect on how your employees are working? Remote work software can help with many aspects of work, including cybersecurity and employee productivity, as the lines between ‘work’ and ‘life’ become more blurred with the increase of hybrid or work from home models. It can also aid productivity by providing managers and employees with critical insights and enabling them to spot potential bottlenecks. 

Assess what you need from your remote collaboration software

Figuring out your exact technology and software needs is a critical step towards preparing for a hybrid workforce. According to a different report by Forbes, organizations must invest in productivity, collaboration, and core business applications. These, in turn, need to enable the organization’s future of work vision and allow easy digital communication and relationship-building. Ideally, employees will need to be trained in using remote work software to maximize opportunities for collaboration. Outline the goals you need to achieve and the software that will enable this so nothing important is missed.

Implement some rules around remote work software use

Next, you will want to create clear directives for your employees’ use of this remote team collaboration software. These include:

  • Only track what is important. There is no need to monitor every minute of your employees’ day with remote work software (this will likely lead to burnout). Instead, track what’s important, such as progress and productivity, over time spent.
  • Focus on outcomes. Elements such as mouse movements or website activity are not good indicators of productivity. Enable managers to set clear expectations for when and what gets done and trust employees to do it.
  • Communicate. Trust goes both ways. Be clear about what the organization is using remote work software to monitor and why.
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Tips for choosing the right remote team collaboration software

Finding the perfect remote work software can be a challenge for businesses. What can help, however, is looking at the research that has already been done. For example, software review site Capterra found the following four insights for what employees need from remote project management software.

  • Functionality is the single most important decision factor. Ensure your chosen remote team collaboration software has the necessary capabilities. Look out for any key features your organization will need (for example, time tracking or resource management
  • Your organization likely already needs the remote work software — 69% of users spend fewer than six months choosing project management software, and 54% spend fewer than six months implementing it
  • Task boards are the most desired feature for remote collaboration software. Task management, collaboration, and reporting features are more popular than more advanced functionalities, so ensure your remote work software choice gets the basics right
  • Most users are largely satisfied with project management tools such as remote collaboration software, with the most significant improvement reported being an increase in projects delivered on-time

Meanwhile, another report by Forbes shares four major collaboration trends for our post-COVID world worth taking into account when choosing your remote work software:

  • The need for increased security
  • The increase in collaboration tools available
  • A focus on simplicity (such as effective integrations)
  • The need for increased consolidation (i.e. remote work software that serves multiple purposes such as collaboration, project management, and reporting)

The need for businesses to invest in remote work software

While organizations around the world are likely to save on costs associated with working fully in-office (such as renting space and equipment), these need to be reinvested to ensure teams can actually work from anywhere. According to Reuters, spending on technology now accounts for 1% of the 6.24% rise in economic output in the first quarter of 2021. The report estimated that this is because about half of paid work hours were completed from home between May and December 2020 — organizations needed to pay for the technology and connectivity to enable this.

Meanwhile, TechRepublic reports that 95% of enterprises rely on digital collaboration tools to:

  • Connect remote workers (91%)
  • Enable better communication between co-workers, departments, and managers (84%)
  • Manage teams (61%)
  • Project management, staff training, and education (54%)

As we move into a new era of flexible working, hybrid working, and relying on talent from around the world in the form of a remote workforce, remote work software will become essential for employees to work effectively and businesses to thrive.

Further reading:
article

Choosing Remote Collaboration Tools & Software

blog post

Asynchronous Communication: The Answer to Our “Always on” Culture