Five Ways to Empower Your Remote Workforce

posted on January 14, 2022

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A recent survey of CIOs worldwide by the ETR (Enterprise Technology Research) revealed that 72% of businesses work remotely today.

This means roughly three-fourths of the global working population are running about trying to find the new normal. But, unfortunately, while some business functions have thrived in adapting to the remote setup, others have failed.

As a business owner, you might wonder if your organization needs to create a hybrid work culture and ecosystem to survive these uncertain times.

The simple answer? Yes.

To help you navigate these difficult times and build an empowered remote workforce, we’ve crafted this article to elaborate on the different ways you can help set your teams up for business success.

Let’s begin!

Five Ways Businesses Can Empower Their Remote Workforce

1. Enable Employees to Set Up Office Spaces at Home

No employees ever thought that their own homes would turn into their workspaces. So it’s only natural that they lack the needed resources to carry forth their day-to-day tasks successfully.

Businesses keen on ensuring a smooth transition from in-office to in-home workspaces need to understand that enabling employees with the proper hardware and software won’t cut it anymore. It now goes beyond that.

An excellent way to understand and help employees here would be to directly talk to them and address their challenges with remote work. For example, some of the most common challenges they may report are:

  • No power backup.
  • Bad internet connectivity.
  • No designated “office space” at home.

Globally, companies that have addressed this challenge have overcome it by giving their employees a fixed amount of money to set up an office at home. This tiny gesture goes a long way in letting employees know that you genuinely care about their well-being, remote or not.

2. Enable seamless Collaborations and Communications Across the Company

Remote work has changed the nature of in-person workflows and processes. This needs to be fixed as a priority for your business to ensure sustainability.

Inaccurate communication, when combined with undocumented conversations, is going to cost your teams. But luckily, there are several tools out there that can come to your immediate rescue.

Software like Zoom and Slack enable cross-team communications while also letting employees share files and other media, just like they’d do on WhatsApp. This makes communication more effortless than ever, and what’s more, all your information is documented with zero additional effort. The usage of such software has also shown a significant improvement in employee engagement and productivity.

3. Encourage Remote Meetings and Gatherings for Non-operational Purposes

It’s no surprise that employee engagement was much higher in an office space. Remote work has made employees and teams run around to change and standardize processes, leaving little time for them to connect personally.

Keeping aside business meetings, leaders and HRs need to encourage employees to gather for non-operational purposes. This would set up perfect situations for them to have honest conversations to develop a unique sense of bonding and friendship regardless of the physical distance.

Such bonds and relationships also enable them to navigate these complicated times to get work done in the best possible way.

4. Encourage Your Teams to Leverage the Power of Digital Technology

The pandemic has been a huge reset button for almost all business workflows, processes, and communication. As we have already seen, manual processes just don’t work anymore.

Businesses need to adapt to technology that can bridge the physical gap and address these problems efficiently.

A digital transformation enables businesses to add a layer of security, control, and accuracy over all business functions. In addition, simplifying operations frees up time for high-impact tasks that let your business grow.

A quick list of software to start with:

  • Trello: To virtually manage all your tasks and projects.
  • Notion: To thoroughly document company-wide communication.
  • Fyle: To enable a seamless expense management process.
  • Google Drive: Secure storage for all your files.
  • CultureAmp: To know the pulse of your employees.
  • TrackingTime: To track time and keep up with your team’s work.
  • LeadsBridge: To enhance your omnichannel strategy.

5. Protect Your Finances by Automating Expense Management

At the heart of every successful business is rock-solid finances. However, with remote work, the added physical distance combined with broken processes has left Finance teams working for numerous hours to get a rough estimate of the whole picture.

With remote work, manual expense management just breaks and leaves your business open to multiple financial leaks through inaccurate records, expense fraud, and much more. As a result, companies worldwide have slowly begun to shift to an expense management software to address these issues.

An expense report software effortlessly streamlines all broken financial processes and frees up time for case-sensitive tasks like fraud detection and manual verifications. This provides Finance teams with all the information they’d need to ensure that your company finances are always safe.

Conclusion

Whether in-office or remote, businesses need to adapt to change if they’re going to stand the test of time.

McKinsey revealed in a recent study that 31% of businesses have completely automated at least one core business function.

There’s no denying that change is inevitable. The only question here is whether your organization will embrace this change to succeed and scale.

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Seven Pro Tips to help Remote Teams Socialize

posted on November 11, 2021

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Through the rise of remote work, more and more people realize that there’s a lot to be gained from not being physically present. This separation poses vast challenges for collaboration, but when you don’t see your colleagues every day, it can also affect how connected you feel with them too.

We all know that distance can make things difficult. It might not be easy to stay in touch with others, important emotional context gets lost or misinterpreted in a conversation where there is no face-to-face connection between parties–relationships with colleagues weaken.

You know that socializing is an important part of building good relationships on teams. Whether you’re based at one location or across different time zones, the key thing here is that there should always be some form of connection between everyone involved!

So you want to make sure your remote working team is always connected and happy? Today, we are sharing some pro tips that can help you increase workplace socialization among remote workers-

7 Pro tips to strengthen remote work culture

1. Promote acts of kindness

You can encourage your team members to treat each other with kindness. This might seem too fluffy, but studies have shown that encouraging people to be kind makes them do kind things for others, even strangers. 

You can set up a friendly competition between your teams to see who does the most acts of kindness, or you can organize a company-wide contest where the winners get a small reward. This will make people go out of their way to say “thank you,” complement each other, and generally spread happiness.

2. Create virtual breaks and cultural festivals

Make the most of time zone differences by creating a daily 1-hour break along with a virtual festival every few weeks. In addition, set up coffee breaks and lunch breaks to help people from different time zones work together better, encouraging bonding among those who work remotely.

This is the ideal solution when you want to strengthen bonds between people who work remotely. You can also extend post-work bonding that happens face-to-face, like holding virtual games nights or watching movies together.

3. Conduct remote competitions

Conducting remote competitions is a fantastic approach to socializing and encouraging interaction. Remote team-building activities are the perfect way to foster creativity and get your employees on board with new ideas.

The best part about such competitions is that they do not necessarily revolve around physical activities but can be focused on tasks. For example, one team can take up the challenge of finishing a particular job first, while the other group has to beat them at it! The main thing you need to ensure is that all teams can participate in this competition.

4. Plan a virtual tour of your coworkers’ home offices

Why not use our nosy tendencies and schedule virtual house tours of our coworkers’ homes? You all want to look into other people’s houses, so why not put your curious minds to good use by scheduling virtual trips inside your coworkers’ homes?

A virtual tour of a coworker’s home office lets us quietly look into the most personal aspects of our teammates’ lives. You can see their books, their kids, and their pets. Even though these tours will only be virtual snapshots from a remote worker’s webcam, it might feel like you made a real connection with your remote coworkers.

5. Get started with virtual wellbeing sessions

Want to encourage your remote team to socialize more?

Virtual wellbeing sessions create a virtual hangout space and include specific exercises that will help promote togetherness and strengthen existing relationships.

Fortunately, there are several methods to make it into a fun group activity. Consider organizing remote yoga classes or virtual meditation sessions once a week.

6. Plan 1:1 meetings with remote workers

In a traditional office, you’d bump into each other in the break room and chat about what’s going on. Team members miss being able to have those casual discussions throughout the day. Plan one-on-one meetings with remote workers so they can catch up with your organization and keep apprised of news and updates outside their department.

7. Improve work-life balance

Being able to work from anywhere can be the best of both worlds, but it’s important to remember that there’s life outside of work. Being social makes you happier and healthier, not just in your professional life but with friends and family too. 

As long as you can get done what you need to do at work, that’s all that matters. And just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean your family will appreciate it if you are not giving them an equal amount of time. 

Which tool can be used for remote team management?

There are several remote employee monitoring software tools available on the market. Which one to select? It will depend on which best meets your business needs. If you need a tool that can handle all your remote workforce from a single place, then you should try WorkStatus.

WorkStatus is a workforce management software that helps you to seamlessly maintain team communication and productivity by working at the best time in the best environment. It provides neat features like daily visit reminders for dispersed teams.

The trouble with our current workplace paradigm is this simple truth: collaboration requires human contact. With WorkStatus, you can embrace digital work without sacrificing your personal touch! Workstatus can take away remote problems with just an email or phone call — that includes headaches like dealing with remote workers, helping them set up their systems correctly, or updating office equipment when they relocate without interrupting workflow.

It also has a helpful dashboard that hosts all your tasks, projects, and communications together on one screen – never miss.

Some other useful remote employee monitoring tools that you can try are-

  • Slack
  • TeamViewer
  • Zoho Projects
  • LiquidPlanner
  • Jell
  • Trello, etc.

Final Thoughts

Remote work is becoming the new norm. It’s not unusual for companies to employ remote workers or even have a remote team. But does this mean that the culture of these teams will be lost? Not so fast! There are several ways of keeping employees happy and motivated when they’re not in an office every day with their coworkers.  

The tips we’ve provided should help you start thinking about how you can cultivate strong cultures among your virtual workforce. If all of this sounds intimidating and you want help enacting these principles, let us know- our team of experts is waiting and ready to partner with you to create a stellar remote workforce management plan that can take your business to new heights without involving much effort from your side.

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Remote Workforce Demands Biometric Identity Assurance

posted on November 5, 2021

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This recent rapid and increasing shift to a remote work model, however, can pose security risks to companies, especially if they are still using inadequate digital defenses. With remote working practices, there could be increased attempts to circumvent conventional security measures or use stolen data to impersonate legitimate employees to perform illegal acts.

Infographic Courtesy of: authID.ai

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The Downsides to Remote Work

posted on August 9, 2021

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Remote working is becoming the trend for more and more companies globally. Companies are offering their employees the opportunity to work from home, often in response to employee preference.

Technological developments, like cloud-based systems and near-universal wireless internet access, provide accountability for remote workers, making it easier than ever to work from anywhere.

There are different arguments for remote working – both for and against. These typically center around how different employers perceive remote working; some embrace remote work, while others believe having employees physically in the office is what’s required for success.

The expectations for remote employees have increased since the movement’s early days when everyone was still finding their feet in this new way of working. Today, remote work is a default for millions of employees. But, just because this is the case, it doesn’t mean the practice comes with no challenges and downsides.

Below are remote work challenges and downsides that employers and employees may be facing while working remotely.

1. Isolation

Working from the office makes employees feel like part of the bigger picture and allows them to connect with coworkers every day. Remote work makes it difficult for them to feel involved with daily company activities, which may lower their motivation.

2. Decrease in Work/Life Balance

Remote working makes it more difficult to physically distinguish between an employee’s place of work and where they spend their free time. This can make it difficult for them to unplug and enjoy some time away from work.

3. Distractions

Many distractions are in homes, such as children, spouses, pets, and Netflix. In-home workspace conditions vary from one employee to another and their productivity relies upon the ability to ignore these distractions. The better they do this, the more effective their remote work will be.

4. Employee Invisibility

Remote working decreases the employee’s visibility at their workplace and, inversely, the workplace’s sight of them.

This limited visibility can make employees disconnected from company culture, recognition and inhibit relationships. It can even lead to them being overlooked for promotions.

5. Collaboration Challenges

Full-time remote workers may find it harder to solve problems and be active than their in-office peers because they miss out on the face-to-face opportunity to collaborate. Due to distance, remote working can make it harder for teams to exchange ideas, make decisions collaboratively, ask and answer questions, and be creative. 

6. Video Call Fatigue

When you face back to back video calls, Zoom fatigue becomes a real thing. Not to mention, video calls can have a lot of niggles, from joining multiple calls, finding invites, and navigating the UI of different providers. 

You also need to exert more brainpower to pick up on non-verbal cues, pay attention to tone and pitch, and keep yourself alert to jump into a conversation at the appropriate time.

7. Lack of Coworker Relationships

Physically being in the office enables employees to bond, share experience, and build camaraderie with each other. Remote working does not naturally provide room for this relationship even with Zoom/Skype calls, online chat systems, and other communication systems in place.

8. More meetings

The number of meetings employees attend while working remotely is often higher than meetings attended by their on-site workers as staff clamour to stay connected. 

It takes an average employee at least eight emails to set up a meeting. Scheduling meetings is time-consuming and tiresome. The repetitive nature of scheduling a meeting can result in decision fatigue and draw you away from doing deep work. 

9. Greater Stress

According to a study, COVID-19 and remote working have resulted in many workers having higher stress, anxiety, and emotional fatigue. While not for any single reason alone, remote work can be a contributor to this rise in stress due to the isolation and loss of work/life balance.

10. Contributing to Gender Inequity

Analysis has shown that remote working hurts women workers and worsens the existing gender imbalance. In a family with both parents working remotely, women are more often bundled with domestic chores and looking after kids, while their male counterparts focus entirely on their jobs.

Most women work late into the night and wake up earlier than usual to recover the lost time. Some may drop out of the job for good, which can further exacerbate gender imbalances. 

11. Less Personal Connection & Trust

Unlike in-person conversation, it’s more challenging to establish connections and trust when talking to a person on video calls. And in the absence of real connections and trust, it can be harder to delegate tasks, work collaboratively and provide honest feedback.

Lower trust and connection between employees and employers may produce poor business outcomes, slowing business growth. 

12. It’s Easier to be Sedentary

Remote working requires you to be intentional about moving and getting some level of exercise. On-site workers may need to walk to the train station making activity part of their daily routine. Commuters may also need to move from one conference room to another for meetings.

Working as a remote employee may see you spend the entire day in your home office. The lack of exercise can be terrible for your health. To address this issue, remote workers need to be intentional about practicing physical exercises as part of their daily routine.

13. Conflict Can Go Unaddressed Longer

Conflicts and disagreements arising while working remotely may go unsolved for longer due to distance. Problems with remote working can be caused by basic things, like a lack of communication, misunderstood cues or disconnected goals.

Detecting an issue while working together in an office can be easy; issues can be surfaced and resolved immediately. When working remotely, you may have no idea that confusion or conflict exists outside the surrounds of the office. 

Working remotely requires a level of sincerity between employees, which an office environment may not require. If you are upset or uncertain about something, you might need to be more proactive and raise the issue.

14. Technical Issues

Another issue when working remotely is that technical issues can grind your work to a halt, with no I.T. team on call. Your computer may develop technical issues which may take several days to be repaired or serviced, unlike in the office, where technical issues are addressed almost immediately. 

Setting up a computer on your own may be a confusing experience, too, when your I.T lead gives you cryptic instructions that leave you baffled. This can reduce your productivity and effectiveness towards your assigned task.

How to Overcome Remote Work Challenges

Remote working has many challenges; however, none are insurmountable, nor terminal for company success. The truth is, most remote work challenges are far outweighed by the benefit of this new way of working.

For managers, it’s about being conscious, transparent and flexible in a new remote working world. Many tenets of a high performing team will hold true. Beyond these, it’s about understanding the most pressing needs of your remote employees, and setting up systems and processes to support them.

For instance, as a manager of remote staff, it’s vital to put extra attention into collaboration, communication and recognition. Small actions like regular team building exercises, welcoming programs and recognition programs go a long way to elevating the remote work experience.

If you’ve already allowed your employees to work remotely and plan on keeping working remotely in the future, keep the above advice in mind. And be sure to employ virtual remote team working tools or remote team management software to help mitigate the associated challenges to realize maximum productivity.

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How Remote Work Lends Itself to Reshaping the Back Office

posted on June 13, 2021

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The pandemic has been hard on everyone in different ways, and though the end is in sight, we’re not there yet. But, as we close in on a year and a half of working from home, we can look back with some perspective and perhaps a little pride at how we’ve adapted and changed. During this time, many people and organizations have discovered that they’re much more nimble, creative and resilient than they previously imagined.

I can see that in the accounts payable organizations with whom I have worked. The dual challenges of figuring out how to get payments out the door in a different way and learning to work remotely have been daunting, but people have figured out ways to get the job done.

Perhaps more than any other function, AP used to be a strictly in-the-office job, mainly because of all the paper processes they had in place. Invoices come in the mail. They have to be opened and keyed into accounting systems. Some companies have machines and OCRs (Optical Character Recognition) to help with this process, but many still follow manual processes. Checks must be printed, stuffed into envelopes, and run through a postage meter before they’re mailed. Security and controls are often paper-based, tooâ€â€safes are kept for blank check stock and sensitive information.

It seems incredible to think that a year and a half ago, that was business as usual for the vast majority of organizations, and not many had plans to change. But change they have.

A New Way of Thinking

Nobody had a plan for sustained remote work. They may have had a short-term disaster recovery planâ€â€for one or two people to work offsite or cover for the absence of a key employee. But nobody had a plan for the entire AP team to be out of the office indefinitely.

The initial struggle was to be able to continue processing payments on time. People brought their laptops home, but not their whole setup. They kept sending skeleton crews to the office to handle the paper processes. The thought was that we’d have to stick it out for a short period. We all know how that turned out.

Around the latter part of April 2020, we started to see people planning for the longer term. Companies set people up with home offices and all the security and connectivity they needed. They had to figure out new ways to communicate and collaborate. They had to figure out how to be productive at home, in many cases while juggling childcare and homeschooling.

At the same time, they started switching vendors to ACH payments in earnest. According to recent data from Nacha, the National Automated Clearinghouse, B2B ACH payments to vendors jumped a whopping 11 percent in 2020. They had to figure out new processes and new ways to keep information secure. Both of those are heavy lifts, which is a big part of the reason paper has persisted for so long.

It has been challenging to say the least, but I think that AP teams should be proud of how they’ve adapted.

Where to go from Here

Probably not back to the officeâ€â€at least not five days a week. According to a recent report by Upwork, roughly one in four Americans will be working remotely in 2021. By 2025, 36.2 million Americans are expected to be working remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that given the option, more than half of employees say they want to keep working from home even after the pandemic abates.

Employers are becoming comfortable with the idea and are even finding some advantages, including access to a much larger talent pool and the ability to offer flexible work hours as a benefit. That could help AP to address the long-standing talent shortage.

The more significant opportunity, though, is to continue to think differently. I would be surprised if very many AP departments decide to return to the paper processes of old. The biggest reason people stuck with those for so long was that they were “working.” It’s hard to say that now. It’s also hard to say that accounts payable work can only be done in the office because we’ve been doing it outside the office for a year. The considerable delay in payment processing that some people expected never materialized. AP had to find a better way, and they did.

Moving Forward

They shouldn’t stop there. AP organizations should seize the moment to bring in technology partners to automate the entire payment workflow, address the growing fraud and security risks associated with ACH payments, and ensure the resiliency of payment workflows in a remote work world. They should be looking to automate invoice ingestion and processing and integrate into other transactional systems, eliminating manual work once and for all.

Nobody likes being forced to change, and that’s been perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the experience we’ve all been living through for the past year. Now that AP teams have proven they have the resiliency and the ability to handle all the change that was thrust upon them, they should seize the opportunity to become drivers of change and key players in leading their organizations into the future.


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Kim Lockett is the Director of Supplier Services at Nvoicepay, a FLEETCOR company. She has over 30 years of experience in financial services and payments, including the management of teams with accounts receivable responsibilities. Before her work at Nvoicepay, she managed the vendor enrollment team and handled customer reconcilement challenges at Comdata.

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