Before the pandemic, many companies allowed some employees the flexibility of working from home. Working virtual is an ideal option for people who are ill or have another reason to be home. Virtual work can help cut down on absenteeism and reduce overhead costs.
Then COVID-19 brought virtual work to the forefront. Many companies implemented virtual work programs to prevent the spread of infection. Employees kept working so that companies could continue to operate.
Terms for offsite workers include:
- Mobile professionals
- Location-independent professionals
They all mean the same thing—people who work outside of a traditional office setting some or all the time.
You’ll have many things to consider when going virtual. If a virtual work program is on your company’s horizon, you’ll need a few new tools to make anywhere you work feel like “the office.”
Staying In Touch
Online tools replace in-person meetings that keep conversations going. These tools are what any virtual team needs:
- Video conference
- Project Management
- Performance management
- Document management
Most companies only need a few tools for their employees to communicate and collaborate. They can include:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Meet
- Zoho Projects
- Skype/Skype For Business
- Candedly and Boomerang (calendar scheduling)
- Google Drive/Docs
- Dropbox (for document and file sharing)
These are just some of the tools available to help your virtual team collaborate every day. You may find one or two to keep teams in touch and working together just as if they were at the office.
Additionally, most of the tools you’ll need are cloud-based SaaS. That makes them affordable, too.
Are They Working?
Many business owners and managers are concerned about whether an employee working at home is trustworthy and puts in a full day’s work.
Studies have shown that disciplined employees work better at home, even part-time. But as a business owner, you may still be unsure.
There’s a learning curve once you’ve implemented virtual working and technology has you covered. Multiple software programs let you monitor your virtual employees’ activity whenever they log in.
No matter where they’re working, you can see what they’re doing. Tools like these can keep track of employees’ activities from wherever they log in:
- Time Doctor
- Rescue Time
- Top Tracker
If an employee knows that this software is watching, it’s a great motivator to stay on task. And with this kind of software, you’ll have proof of work time when billing your clients.
Additionally, if you’re hiring freelance or contract workers, one option is to use an online job board like Upwork. Upwork has a time-tracker app that freelancers must install and use on their own machines for hourly contracts. The app monitors your virtual worker’s computers while they’re working. The software logs keystrokes as well as mouse clicks. It also takes photos of the worker’s computer screen while the app is in use.
What Does Virtual Mean For Your Employees?
No Long Commutes
Most employees in large and medium-sized cities have long-distance commutes. Working virtual eliminates that commute, particularly during hazardous driving conditions like snow days. Your company can be in business as usual even when employees can’t get to the office.
Collaboration is Easy
Employees can collaborate using tools like Slack and Zoom so that it’s just like being in the same office space for them. With email, instant messaging, and phone calls, employees can communicate the same as if they were sitting at a desk.
Working in Their Comfort Zone
Letting employees work from home also allows them to work in their personal “comfort zones.” They’ll face fewer interruptions than they would at the office. Many employees work more than 40 hours a week when at home. They have more time than they would with a strict work time along with a commute.
Working From Home Helps Parents
An employee with a sick family member can stay home and still work as they would in the office.
With more flexibility, employees will have more time to take care of themselves and their families. They can work during their most productive hours and have time for exercising and other healthy habits. That flexibility contributes to a healthy work-life balance, increases job satisfaction, and leads to more productivity.
Use a VoIP Hosted Phone System to Manage Your Virtual Workforce
Another good investment for a company is a VoIP-hosted PBX.
Just some of the great features that a hosted PBX offers to help manage virtual employees include:
- Call Recording
- Call Reporting
- Conference Bridge
- Call Queues and the reporting that comes with that
- Voicemail to Text that can be sent to the employee for archiving text files
- High Volume Call Alerts
- Custom Scheduling
- Call Forwarding
- Web-Based Inbound and Outbound Faxing
- View Active Calls
The advantage of hosted PBX is that the provider maintains all the associated hardware and software. You’ll get all the features you need to not only look like a large company but to monitor your virtual workers.
With additional features like call reporting, call queues, call recording, and unlimited conference bridges, your company can easily manage a virtual workplace. Contact Press 8 Telecom today to find out more about how we can help your company transition to virtual.