Keeping your remote workers connected with unified communications

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Sarah McGovern, Arkadin’s Head of Organisation Change Management and Adoption Service Line discusses the best practices for employers to embrace modern day work trends and keep all employees connected. Arkadin is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing global collaboration services provider and has recently launched Women@Arkadin, a new initiative aimed at creating a better balance of women in the workplace.

Modern day work lives are being transformed by the use of digital tools, as technological developments continue to make everyday activities and processes far easier. Remote working, made possible by advanced collaboration tools, is now more popular than ever, with the number of people working from home in the UK increasing by a fifth in the last 10 years.

However, nurturing a remote workforce brings its own set of challenges in ensuring that employees feel trusted, valued and part of the wider company culture. Development of a collaborative and highly engaged workforce, across different geographical locations, can be achieved by embracing digital transformation. Employing emerging communication technology is one opportunity for businesses to encourage an efficient, modern workforce that feels empowered. Follow these best practices and keep your remote workers connected through unified communications.

Organisational change management

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as just deploying a new technology and hoping that it will achieve your new digital business goals. For a change to be successfully embedded within your organisation, you must re-align business process, policy and culture to allow this initiative to be effective supportive and most importantly, long lasting. Organisational Change Management is more than just training your employee’s to be able to use the new tools (don’t get me wrong – training is still an important aspect!), but OCM allows for the behavioural and cultural change that will support your technology to make the impact that you envisioned and facilitate well rounded communication and collaboration targets. 

Set up management for success

Management should have access to an extensive knowledge of the full range of tools that are being used to connect virtual employees. A simple online platform, that includes project management technology, can help streamline tasks across multiple locations and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Leadership development should always include strategies for approaching remote working and regular check-ins and conversations should be encouraged to establish priorities, keep track of progress and highlight concerns.

Bonding opportunities with technology

Using the correct intelligent communication tool can make colleagues feel more connected and engaged. It is crucial that your choice of platform not only allows for collaborative work on projects and tasks but also gives a feeling that employees are working side-by-side with multiple easy and instant touchpoints. Features such as instant messaging, video conferencing, virtual hangouts are some effective features to look out for to encourage real-time communication. Holding regular virtual meetings that include remote workers is also a key way to reinforce a sense of teamwork and inclusion.

‘Water cooler conversations’

One of the most common challenges faced by employees who work remotely is a sense of loneliness or isolation. It is integral that the workforce reaches out to each other regularly, and not just about work. Management should aim to talk to individual team members often in order to solicit opinions on projects or decisions and to discuss non-work related topics. With the use of technology, collaborative tasks should be assigned as often as possible to encourage team members to work together and stay connected. In a team environment, face-to-face communication (e.g. via HD video conferencing) is vital for visual and non-verbal cues, building rapport and establishing trust.

Platform for peace and quiet

While staying engaged is crucial to remote working, one of the key benefits of working from home is the peace and quiet that allows for concentration. By using a unified communication tool you are not only ensuring that everyone is on the same page with their work, but also preventing remote employees from being inundated with messages in various forms and from different platforms, which can be incredibly distracting. It also helps to limit the amount of time wasted by employees chasing messages and finding files.

Budget for business trips

Technology is undoubtedly a crucial part of the success of a remote workforce, however, we understand it has its limitations. There is no superior substitute for face-to-face communication, therefore it’s essential that you try to allow for company get-togethers at least once a year. Ideally, employing remote workers will be saving your organisation money and it is a good idea to repurpose some of this budget for some crucial shared experiences for employees. This will help to build trust and friendship and increase engagement and productivity across your organisation.

Sarah McGovern is Head of the Service Line for Organisational Change Management and Adoption Services at Arkadin, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing global collaboration services provider.

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