Producing and communicating in the age of telecommuting
In the last few weeks, the word Telecommuting has become a household name. Nobody would have wanted to experience this emergency, but there’s something good we are learning from it: not being physically in the office, going through the usual routines, commuting and using the traditional tools that we have had around all our life, does not mean that everything has to stop.
All of a sudden, Telecommuting has turned from an opportunity to use flexible, efficient work models to an absolute priority, which had to be implemented straightaway and extended to as many people as possible. Yes, because Telecommuting has not been designed to handle an emergency or even less to follow a trend that sees the world increasingly connected and dynamic, but to make people achieve more and better. It is a beneficial trend: being able to manage one’s working hours and workplace (within limits, of course) leads to the so-called employee engagement: one feels more motivated, responsible, one fights towards a goal, not to get to the office in time. Predictably enough, many studies have managed to find a relationship between engagement and a growth in personal productivity and in the company’s profitability. And this applies to all the functions and roles that can be done remotely: marketing, purchasing, HR, sales …
Telecommuting, tools, processes and corporate culture
So, these days we are seeing tangible evidence of how central digitalisation is. Luckily, we see companies that were built around the concept of Telecommuting and have developed a culture that is fit to embrace all its potentials: they have collaboration tools, they share documents with just a click, they effortlessly have access to the company’s management systems in the cloud, they press a (virtual) key to arrange conference calls and online meetings with dozens of people, while their trusted calendars rule the schedules of all their engagements. A few perfect Telecommuting tools? Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365 (which includes Teams, which is pivotal to collaboration), Slack, as well as more specific applications, such as Whereby, a disconcertingly simple system to arrange video conferences: you invite someone, and that’s it.
Different, but no less important, is the issue of culture. While it is true that right now we are in the midst of an emergency, so of course immediate measures need to be taken to respond to it, there’s no denying that, for a tool to be most effective, the company needs to rely on a climate, on processes and procedures that can use it to the best advantage. So, tomorrow we will need to leverage digitalisation even more to make the most of it: access to corporate systems wherever you are, security, instant communication, and, for those in a supervisory role, being able to do it regardless of the device, time or the place they are in.
Flexible tools: what are the most successful features?
What are the features a software tool must have to be successful in the age of telecommuting? Obviously, it must be connected, but it should also be usable to do part of the work offline: now we work from home, tomorrow telecommuting will be everywhere, even where you cannot rely on a particularly efficient wireless network. Of course, in this case you may have problems with a conference call, but the core features of a work tool must be available offline too, as this is essential to interact with your colleagues, share contents and manage whole processes.
Then, it must be usable to manage whole processes in an easy, integrated way: not just one function, but a set of interconnected actions in a process that is managed online and in automatic mode, so as to speed it up and avoid mistakes. From the perspective of simplifying and maximising productivity, having ten different non-communicating tools doesn’t make much sense: a modular platform that can manage end-to-end communication, collaboration and processes would be much better.
Not to mention the key role played by the User Experience and user-friendliness: don’t forget that Telecommuting means being more productive than in the office, and that’s why the experience must be user-friendly, or, even better, have guided processes, while also providing the most complete range of functions ever.
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