By Andrew Bourne
With social distancing measures likely to remain strictly in place for the foreseeable future as we seek to contain the spread of COVID-19, remote working is having its moment.
“For many of us, remote working is rapidly becoming normal,” says Andrew Bourne, Zoho’s Manager for the African region. “This means we need a set of business tools that makes it as easy as possible to keep connecting and collaborating with clients and colleagues.”
Cloud-based software solutions enable you to work wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection and computer, the trick is in selecting the one that will allow you to continue working for as long as needed, and not just fulfill your immediate needs. “It’s about assessing your requirements and taking the time to select tools that not just meet those needs, but also work well together to achieve a streamlined workflow,” Bourne stresses.
Here are some things to consider when selecting tools to support your remote working environment:
Unrestricted communication: Without face-to-face interactions and in-person collaboration, you’ll want to make sure your communication tools are up to the job of calls, video conferencing and instant messaging. In emerging markets especially, consideration should be given to the bandwidth requirements of any video conferencing tools you use. While line speeds and data caps have improved significantly over the years, nothing kills collaboration as fast as a bad connection.
A cloud-based office suite: “Anyone who has ever tried to do remote work on a traditional office suite knows how difficult it can be,” says Bourne. “The version control alone can be a nightmare.” A cloud-based office suite makes collaborating seamless and effortless and dramatically reduces the back and forth needed to get things done.
Project management: Central to successful remote working is ensuring the whole team is on the same page. Find a project management tool that helps you manage budgets, timelines, resources and quality with a calendar, Gantt chart, time tracking, and functionality. A project management tool with automation capabilities saves time on routine tasks. A drag-and-drop interface is useful for making automations easier to visualise.
Shared workspace: “A shared, centralized cloud-based workspace is the remote version of an office,” Bourne says. A cloud-based shared drive serves as a space where teams can easily share and store files, making these easily accessible to anyone, anywhere. Pay particular attention to the search functionality. You want a tool that can filter and search smartly and quickly.
It’s important that the tools you use for these also work well together in order to avoid duplication of data and efforts, which is why it’s preferable to go for integrated suites instead of standalone apps.
The writer is technology firm Zoho’s Regional Manager For Africa
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