As globalization and mobile technology transform businesses worldwide, remote workforces are increasingly a workplace reality, and the trend is accelerating. A Global Leadership Summit survey found that 34 percent of companies say half of their full-time workforce will be working remotely by 2020.
Another force driving the telecommuting trend is the rise of a new generation of workers: Millennials are on pace to become the dominant workforce demographic this year. As a group, they tend to be more collaborative and to place more emphasis on achieving work/life balance, which often translates into flexible work hours and telecommuting options. As digital natives, millennials are behind the adoption of cloud collaboration tools and BYOD, solutions that enable them to work anywhere.
Companies that want to compete for the best and brightest employees as remote workforces become the norm rather than the exception will need to find a way to fully engage telecommuters. As global companies and telecommuters make the transition, they’ll need to overcome the “out of sight, out of mind” challenge so that employees who work remotely are considered full members of the team by onsite staff and feel fully engaged on projects when physically separated from the office.
The right technology tools can help keep all employees informed, engaged and productive. Here are five tech essentials that can effectively integrate remote workers and office-based colleagues:
Plug-n-play video collaboration solutions: For employees to be present in a meeting, they need to be able to participate fully — just as if they were in the room. A high-quality plug-n-play video collaboration system that doesn’t require complex administrator setup is a must. It should work across all desktops and applications that employees are using.
Virtual meeting rooms: Physical offices typically include conference rooms where teams can meet to discuss ongoing projects and brainstorm new concepts. Remote employees need access to a cloud-based virtual meeting room that they can use for the same purpose. Telecommuters must have a dedicated virtual space that coworkers can visit just as they would a physical office.
Optical pan/tilt/zoom cameras: When telecommuters join an onsite meeting, they not only need to be able to see and hear their onsite colleagues, they’ll also need to be able to follow the action in meeting rooms. Whiteboards and post-it notes are often used to keep track of ideas and manage the conversation, and it’s imperative that remote employees be able to see them using a high quality camera with a minimum of 10X Pan, Tilt and Zoom capability.
Easy screen sharing: The ability to review content like presentations, spreadsheets, pictures, text files and other material is essential for successful collaboration. Remote employees will need a solution that allows them to wirelessly share content with colleagues during meetings and view the content shared by others in real time.
Crystal-clear audio: You need a good speakerphone in meeting rooms to facilitate a true active conversation. How many times do remote participants complain they can’t hear someone in the far corner of a meeting room or they speak up but people in the meeting room cannot hear them. A true full duplex expandable speakerphone with good noise suppression and coverage range will solve most of these issues.
In today’s highly competitive environment, global companies must harness the talent and creativity of their staff — wherever they are. A more collaborative, mobile workforce requires technology solutions that bring remote workers into the fold, providing the tools they need to fully participate in meetings, consult with colleagues, share content with the group and more.
Fortunately for businesses and workers who are adjusting to a rapidly evolving workplace, technology solutions are now available to provide a true telepresence and enable collaboration worldwide. The companies that harness essential technology to enable telecommuter success can gain a significant competitive edge.