An increasing number of businesses are moving towards the remote workforce model to lower employee costs and improve productivity. Remote work policies engage employees by offering the flexibility they desire as well as reduce office-related operating expenses for businesses. They also help ensure business continuity during periods of disruption caused by crisis situations such as the COVID-19 outbreak.
Despite these advantages, there are some inherent challenges associated with remote working. Data security, employee collaboration, and monitoring top the list. Remote work tools help businesses deal with these challenges. They not only allow employees to collaborate effectively but also help businesses manage operational aspects, such as data security and software deployment.
Here's what we'll cover:
What is remote work software?
Remote work software is a set of tools that helps businesses ensure the smooth execution of remote work. It includes a range of software solutions that enable remote working such as project management (manage projects remotely), file sharing (share documents across teams), and IT management (manage software subscriptions and data security). These tools can be remotely managed by software administrators and accessed by employees from any location.
Remote support in ISL Online (Source)
Common types of remote work software
They are different types of remote work solutions. We’ve listed the key types in the table below.
||Lets users track and manage projects from conception to completion. Users can create tasks, assign them to team members, and track progress using dashboards and Gantt charts.
||Allows users to communicate with team members via emails, instant messages, chats, and voice and video calls.
||Records the time spent by employees on assigned tasks. This functionality is particularly helpful for businesses that pay employees or bill clients by the hour.
||Allows users to upload and sync files on cloud storage platforms and share them across teams.
||Lets users communicate with team members and clients via online video conferences.
||Helps users manage service requests from employees with the assistance of ticketing and issue tracking functionalities.
||Allows IT teams to manage the allocation, setup, and deployment of software and hardware assets. It also helps manage the business-wide deployment of data security tools such as firewalls and antivirus.
What type of buyer are you?
Based on business setup and requirements, there are two types of software buyers:
- Businesses with need-based remote work policies: Some businesses implement remote work policies due to one-off requirements or unpredicted events such as the COVID-19 outbreak. For such businesses, remaining connected with employees is key, and remote work tools with collaboration, video conferencing, and file sharing capabilities are recommended. These tools allow employers to communicate with their employees and clients as well as share work-related documents securely. They should suffice for the needs of businesses that have to implement remote work policies for a temporary period or every once in a while.
- Businesses with full-time remote work policies: Businesses that have full-time remote work policies need to invest in more comprehensive tools that not only help employees to remain connected with each other but also monitor productivity. Besides collaboration tools, these businesses should invest in project management (to assign tasks and track hours and deadlines), IT management (to implement data security measures), and help desk management tools (to address tech-related issues).
Benefits of remote work software
There are many benefits of using remote work software. In this section, we’ve highlighted the key benefits to build a strong case for investing in these systems.
- Efficient task management: Project management functionality of remote work software allows businesses to create tasks, assign them to employees, and track the status in real time. This provides complete visibility on project progress and minimizes miscommunication on tasks or deadlines.
- Better employee collaboration: Remote work tools allow employees to stay connected with their team members via emails, instant messages, chats, and voice and video calls. Employees can collaborate on project tasks and remotely access required services such as help desk. They can also upload and store all work-related documents in a centralized cloud platform that can be accessed by all authorized team members.
- Higher data security: Using IT management solutions, businesses can remotely implement data security measures, such as antivirus and software patches, across network systems. This helps detect network vulnerabilities and ensures the security of sensitive business data such as employee records and financial information.
Key considerations when buying remote work software
Following are the key points to consider when investing in a remote work solution:
- Integration with existing systems: The remote work tools you wish to purchase should integrate well with your existing systems such as accounting or HR management software. Integration functionality will enable the seamless syncing and exchange of business data across applications and save you from the hassle of repeated manual data entry. It’ll also remove interdepartmental data silos so that everyone in your organization has access to the same data.
- Budget your remote work solutions carefully: Since remote work software constitutes a variety of solutions ranging from project management to network monitoring, you’ll need to be careful when allocating a budget for purchasing these tools. List all the remote work applications you need, calculate the annual total cost of ownership for each, and ensure that the total software expenditure doesn’t exceed your budget.
- Test the tools for lags: System lags and outages are some of the most common reasons for business downtime. Carefully go through vendor service level agreements (SLAs) and inquire about the percentage of uptime and maintenance downtime. A minimum of 99.9% uptime, which roughly translates into a downtime of 43 minutes per month, is recommended. You can also read user reviews on Software Advice to learn from the experiences of actual buyers.
- Implement data security solutions: Data security is one of the biggest risks associated with remote working. Invest in a virtual private network (VPN) and data security solutions such as anti-virus and anti-malware. Implement a good data security strategy and allow your IT team access to all remote devices. Also look into browser privacy, password management, and firewall configurations.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.