Between 2005 and 2011 the number of people working from home rocketed 73 percent in the US, to over 3 million people.* Tele-working enables employees to live a more flexible schedule and avoid wasting time commuting, while employers can hire staff without the need to increase their office space or spend money on equipment. As employers get more used to the idea of teleworking and adapting to the new way of working, the numbers working from home is only going to increase.
The key to ensuring that remote working is a benefit, rather than a hindrance, is ensuring that employees continue to be able to work productively and to collaborate with colleagues just like they would in the office. Thankfully, there's a range of software solutions available that can make this possible:
Skype - Now owned by Microsoft, Skype has been the remote workers communication tool of choice for years. Both voice and video calls between Skype users are completely free, while calls to landlines and mobiles are competitively priced, and without the need to pay for line rental. Skype users can also create an 'online number' which enables people to call them on a normal phone without realising they are calling a VoIP phone number. An enterprise grade VoIP alternative is 'Go to Meeting', which is more business focused and offers desktop sharing, tools to draw or highlight items and the ability to hold both private and public chats.
Huddle - This is a document sharing application specifically designed for managing the challenges of globally dispersed teams. Without being able to walk around the office to keep an eye on people, it can be difficult to keep track of who's working on what. This is why 90,000 businesses around the world use Huddle to share files, to assign tasks and to organise workflows. In fact, employees working in the same office could equally benefit from having a central document sharing and collaboration application like Huddle.
Dropbox or Google Drive - These document sharing applications can both be used for free up to a certain storage capacity. Along with backing up personal files, they can be used as a productivity tool to help remote based employees ensure they're always working on the most up to date document. Rather than have various files stored on people's individual hard drives and floating around on email, Dropbox or Google Drive can be used to centrally store files so that multiple users can work on them at the same time.
Employee monitoring Software - The fear factor for many employers of having remote employees is the potential loss of control or visibility of what their workers are doing. This is why many are turning to employee monitoring software to minimize the risks and to encourage productivity. Literally every keystroke, website visit, download and instant message can be recorded and tracked. This means home based workers won't be able to waste time on YouTube or looking at wedding photos on Facebook without getting a virtual slap on the wrist from their bosses for wasting time. While some home based workers may resent having their boss looking over their shoulder in this way, employee monitoring software can provide businesses with the reassurance they need to implement remote working safely and securely.
Working from home is a trend that's only going to continue in the years ahead. With these productivity tools you can ensure that remote employees can continue to collaborate with office based colleagues and to contribute to a businesses' success just as though they're in the same room.