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Productivity Software For Remote Workers

by | Dec 6, 2022 | Security

Essential Productivity Software for Remote Work

The events of 2020 set in motion sweeping change across the entire working world, impacting nearly every knowledge worker’s job in some way. Now that we’ve settled into the “new normal,” many companies are calling employees back into offices at least occasionally. Still, fully remote jobs are far more prevalent than they were three years ago, now making up more than 15% of professional positions within the U.S. And as many as 58% of employees now work from home at least one day each week.

Today, it’s clear that hybrid work isn’t a short-lived experiment that was destined to fade away with the lifting of pandemic-era restrictions. Instead, it’s become the working model of choice for a majority of American employees.

But the widespread adoption of hybrid, flexible and remote working models has created new technology challenges for organizations, especially as they begin thinking about and planning for the longer-term future. Many implemented new tools and software solutions at breakneck speed in the early days of the pandemic. Now, it’s time to take a step back and examine capabilities and governance models to ensure that they’re optimized to maximize productivity going forwards.

Here are our top three suggestions for ensuring hybrid and remote workers have the tools they need to get their work done in 2023 and beyond.

#1: It’s time to think carefully about security and governance

Because so many new solutions were implemented in early 2020, with the sole objective of getting remote workers up and running as quickly as possible, many organizations didn’t consider security a priority at first. We’re settling in for the long term now, and it’s time to reconsider questions of data privacy, governance and resource access.

For instance, large numbers of enterprises adopted Microsoft Teams in 2020. Not all of them built robust processes around who can create new Teams, who should be able to access them, or whether they should be set to auto-expire after a certain period. This can lead to a rapid proliferation of Teams, not all of which are serving their intended purpose.

To ensure that your organization is using Microsoft Teams to the best of its capabilities, you’ll need to set policies, but the exact nature of these will necessarily differ from company to company. In some organizations, it might make sense to allow all users to create Teams, but establish a checklist of criteria that have to be met beforehand. In others, it might work better to designate Teams-proficient individuals to approve all new Team creation requests. In yet others, where, for instance, every project has a Team assigned to it – so that having large numbers of Teams is a given – the best policy might be to set Teams to auto-expire after a certain period (say, 90 days) of inactivity.

The goal should be to establish checks and balances, and ensure visibility and oversight. Leaders should ask themselves:

  • What features are being exposed to users?
  • Does everyone have access to all the capabilities needed for their job role?
  • Are people granted access to data and/or applications that is not needed?
  • How can employees share content with third-party partners and vendors, as well as others outside the organization?

The right governance policies can help to protect sensitive data and intellectual property while ensuring that people have ongoing access to the resources they need to get their jobs done

Others may find that consolidating capabilities makes sense. Here, performing a rigorous quantitative analysis is key.

#2: Make the most of what you’ve already got

Today’s knowledge workers are more reliant on software than ever. But this doesn’t mean they’re using the software their organizations have already implemented to the full extent of its capabilities. In fact, few are.

We regularly hold workshops to help our clients make the most of their existing toolsets. In these sessions, we help organizations understand their current goals and objectives, and then take a deep dive into all the features of their software, providing best practice-based tips according to their individual business needs.

Some organizations will need to reconfigure software settings, while others will need to be introduced to features and capabilities that they didn’t know they had. Some may decide to consolidate solutions. If, for example, they implemented Microsoft Teams for its chat capabilities and Zoom for videoconferencing during the pandemic, they may decide to consolidate both within the Teams platform, simplifying administration and governance, and reducing licensing costs.

The Microsoft 365 ecosystem is rich in capabilities, and few users are aware of everything that it can do. Many find that they can save time and effort by using Microsoft Sway to create corporate newsletters and internal communications. Or, they may discover that Microsoft Power Automate lets them streamline business processes by automating repetitive tasks — with far less need for development expertise than they thought. Microsoft Forms provides an easy-to-use method for replacing paper workflows with digital forms, one that’s especially useful now that hybrid and remote workers have less access to on-site paperwork.

These are just a few examples, but in many organizations, teaching employees to make the most of existing tools can save money and enhance productivity.

#3: Strive to consolidate capabilities

Videoconferencing is a critical capability for modern businesses, but did you know that you can simplify your telephony infrastructure by consolidating voice calling capabilities within Microsoft Teams? It’s possible to assign a business phone number to your Microsoft Teams account, so that Microsoft Teams will allow you to make and receive business phone calls from your desktop, Microsoft Teams app and mobile phone, in an all-in-one, streamlined solution. Microsoft Teams can also be used with dedicated physical phones in organizations that still want these.

It’s also possible to consolidate digital faxing capabilities within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, making it easy for users to send and receive faxes right from their email account, regardless of their location. This makes it effortless to communicate with suppliers or customers who are still reliant on fax, whether you’re working from the office, from home, or from across the country.

Today’s organizations want to ensure that productivity is maintained — or even improved — as the world of work becomes more flexible. In many cases, it’s possible to do this without adding new software solutions. What’s essential is understanding your needs and the capabilities of your current solution set. Most of the time, these are far richer than you know.

To learn more about how we can help you build this understanding, visit us at netrixglobal.com.