A little over a year ago, collaborating with colleagues was a simple task. This is because mostly everyone was within 6 feet of each other or just down the hall. When most employees had to begin working from home, organizations made quick, sometimes sloppy, adjustments. Now a year into the pandemic, it’s time for SMBs to reevaluate the effectiveness of their communication avenues and expand where needed. From sharing files to monitoring staff productivity, organizations can use various tools to keep everyone up-to-speed as if they were next to each other.
- Document & File Sharing
Attachments can be tiresome, especially when size limits inhibit doing so. A document management tool removes this issue and helps teams create content faster. Editing, reviewing, and sharing documents with others may seem rudimentary, but it can cause huge productivity gains. For example, a team tasked with jointly writing a report will all need access to the same data; spreadsheets, statistics, conversion rates, etc. Having everything in one place will save them time, allow them to organize everything neatly, and manage permissions.
File sharing also provides a great way to track progress, collaborate in real-time, provide instant feedback, and take meeting notes.
- Productivity Software
Time is money, even in a pandemic. For many, remote work has been a major adjustment causing decreases in productivity. Both because of normal home distractions and new ones (i.e., children schooling online). Adding this to the usual struggle of juggling responsibilities, the need for applications that keep employees on-track has only increased.
Productivity software can serve as a motivational tool, helping users optimize performance, visualize goals, and set targets. They can also track the time spent on different tasks, allowing staff to review how they spent time throughout the day.
- Project Management Tools
Employees both in and out of the office can realize the advantages of using project management applications. Not every project requires a simple checklist; more complicated tasks can involve extensive planning, setting deadlines, and delegating responsibilities.
Most project management tools have built-in collaboration tools, time-tracking features, scheduling and task organization, and integrations with other platforms for a streamlined workflow. Of course, there are many applications out there, so choosing one that fits the organization’s specific needs is key. After all, there is no reason to go overboard when your SMB only needs a few features to manage better. Planning, organizing, and keeping track of a team has never been easier.
- Messaging Apps
Perhaps one of the first area’s businesses expanded at the beginning of the pandemic was messaging applications. When colleagues are not as easily accessible, messengers help them converse quickly and easily. We’ve all had an instance or two (or hundreds) where we’ve wasted time searching through a lengthy email chain. Finding topics and keywords is easy with a messaging application with the ability to search conversations and create channels.
Additional features include sharing availability status during work hours, setting reminders, and sending documents, files, videos, etc.
- Online Meeting Tools
While the term ‘Zoom burnout’ has certainly made the rounds in recent months, even for small businesses, there comes a time when a video chat is much more effective than an email or even a phone call. Virtual meetings can be essential to building trust among coworkers, clients, and stakeholders. When there is the illusion of face-to-face communication, speakers are understood better, especially with the added benefit of visual cues.
Video conferencing isn’t just for meetings. Organizations can conduct interviews, training sessions, webinars, and other marketing events.
Looking to the Future
Many hope that with vaccines becoming more widespread this Spring, there will be a return to normalcy. And while that may be true in some ways, chances are the remote workforce will remain a large component of businesses in the future. Whether employees are concerned about coming back to the office or are unwilling to give up a better work-life balance, at the very least, a hybrid model will be the new standard.
The modern workforce wants more than what was previously considered normal. Staff today want a flexible schedule and the choice to determine when they work from home or in the office. It is up to management to provide that as well as the tools that will make it possible. The businesses that do so will see higher employee satisfaction and a more and productive team.