2020 has been a challenging year for most businesses, especially for those that lacked business continuity planning and technologies to support it. As we all learn from the good and bad of the year, we all have to agree on something: things will be radically different in 2021 and beyond!
For instance, according to research done by SWZD, who surveyed more than 1,000 technology buyers in companies across North America and Europe, 76% of business plans for 2021 include long-term IT changes, especially in the category of productivity applications and software.
Furthermore, the survey shows that 64% of businesses enabled a remote workforce in 2020 and more than half will retain flexible work policies even after the pandemic ends.
So, if productivity management is driving IT budgets for 2021, what advice are we giving our SMB clients that are just deploying, and adopting productivity applications?
Productivity isn’t always about the technology
It’s very likely that when the covid19 crisis hit, your business decided to go ahead and invest in technology to enhance your remote employees. A collaboration hub like Teams, Slack, or Trello, maybe a video conferencing solution Skype, Zoom, etc. But as you probably encounter, investing in technology isn’t always the key to productivity. Although technology will enable remote work experiences, proper management of a remote workforce will be critical in a successful implementation.
Creating an inclusive and productive remote work culture will require great leadership, policies, and management. Here are some things you should consider to properly manage your remote workforce, making sure they stay productive and adopt the technologies to the fullest:
- Define your communication rules: What communication channel should be used for what. If it’s a quick 1:1 maybe you want to use chat, if it is a project status where multiple people are involved maybe you want to use email. If it’s a project kickoff maybe you want to use a video call. The goal is to make it as organic as possible, always encouraging face to face interactions (camera) when suitable.
- Define meeting touch base: How many times a day/week are you going to meet with your whole team, and 1:1? How are you going to make sure everyone will be prepared for those meetings? In remote work, meetings need to be intentional, aim to have daily standups, and remember in remote work there’s no such thing as over-communicating.
- Use a project management tool: It provides clarity and transparency on team performance and a sense of teamwork beyond meetings.
Take a look at this infographic by SmartBug Media and Hubspot, where they discuss the business impact of effectively managing a remote workforce.
Connect with Managers and Companies for Guidance
It’s not about following what other competitors in your industry are doing, it's about learning what they did that didn’t work, what works, and why. Business leaders joining groups and forums during the budget planning season can benefit from identifying trends and highlight priorities for business growth.
When it comes to productivity management, joining community forums and groups can also help you spark new ideas on how to engage your remote team, how to keep motivation at a high, and how to continue to have a sense of organizational culture reaching out to every employee’s home office.
As a business leader in Connecticut you could consider joining some of these Associations and LinkedIn Groups:
- The Voice of Community Nonprofits Connecticut (Association)
- World Affairs Council Connecticut (Association)
- International Women’s Forum Connecticut (Association)
- Connecticut Small Business Networking (LinkedIn Group)
Leverage the right solutions
Sometimes businesses will rush to implement a new application or software to get things done, without careful consideration of how to embed these into their work processes to increase adoption.
Take project management as an example, in a 2019 survey by GetApp, they found that 97% of project managers use more than one tool (Software) to manage their projects. The inability to choose the right tool from the beginning forces businesses to request software developers to tailor the software or application to make it work for their needs, increasing costs, and complexity.
If I ask you, would you want to make smart investments in technology that really help your remote teams and that grow as your business grows, with a predictable expenditure? I bet you're nodding your head right now! Our best advice to guarantee this is the case? Find the right IT Partner.
An experienced IT partner will be able to suggest productivity solutions that really align with your organization’s ways of doing business. This means they won’t deploy any new tech without having a training program for your employees tailored to specific business cases, with the ultimate goal of increasing end-user adoption.
These three tips are just things we’ve found useful for businesses that truly want to make the most of their technology investment for remote workers in the long-run. Budgeting for 2021 with all the uncertainties the economic landscape brings is already a stressful task, and these tips will help you make sure that whatever path you choose to enable your remote workforce, it will have a positive impact on your productivity and ability to grow.