In the age of the internet, more and more businesses are allowing their staff to work remotely. This may be for telecommuting purposes (so staff don’t need to commute as much), flexibility (for example, for new mothers) or even productivity (as the office can be distracting for some employees or certain tasks). Some company workforces are expanding outside their traditional walls to secure greater customer reach and better talent that may be located internationally. Whatever the reason, remote work arrangements are becoming increasingly popular.
With the rising popularity of remote collaboration, companies are looking at ways to improve their efficiencies and many are turning to cloud-based solutions. There are great benefits to be had when implementing a cloud-based collaboration platform for your company.
Things to consider when choosing collaboration tools
To start with, cloud-based document sharing allows staff to see, track and edit documents in real time. If this is done over email, which is the preferred mode of communication with remote staff, version control becomes extremely messy and this affects project management. Cloud-based documents can be extremely useful even for those working in the office, as people can work on the same document simultaneously without losing any data. Ensure you have a document suite with version control, as this allows you to manage versions if proposed updates are not agreeable or you need to find information that was previously in the document.
Regarding project management, there are also a number of cloud-based applications available to help your teams manage their projects with real time progress. These tools allow task allocation, progress and workflows to be visible to relevant parties. Choose a tool that synchronises well with other programs and apps, and allows data to be exported.
The communication barrier is easily broken with the use of cloud-based collaboration tools such as video and web conferencing. Employees can have regular team catch ups in virtual meetings without the need for phone calls and conference dial in products or plans. Video conferencing leads to a much higher participant engagement due to the visual component. These tools can be cost-effective and also much more efficient than strings of emails. Communication with customers can also be conducted through even more direct products such as website chat and social media, depending on your business.
With the growing movement towards cloud-based collaboration, security is obviously paramount. Sensitive information is no doubt shared between collaborators and it’s important to ensure that any cloud partners and providers are compliant with industry regulations and that their data centre meets the highest possible standards.
Sharing permissions, password protection and link expiry are also things that you should consider implementing to better protect your assets and the flow of information. You should also have the ability to remotely wipe data.
Reliability is also an extremely important factor when utilising cloud-based collaboration. Data centres and backup data centres should have disaster overflow plans and an acceptable service level agreement for uptime (99.9% reliability is not an uncommon service level agreement).
Also consider selecting a collaboration solution that allows users to edit files on their mobile devices. Many employees may use their mobile devices for greater productivity, so consider whether this can be incorporated in a reliable manner without presenting device compatibility issues.
As organisations embrace cloud technology and cloud-based collaboration solutions become more sophisticated and accessible, the nature of work and employee engagement is bound to change in line with this.