Working from home once had a reputation for encouraging employees to be unfocused and inefficient. In fact, it’s just the opposite: Research indicates that telecommuting can boost worker productivity. One ground-breaking Stanford study on the subject, which included 16,000 participants, found a marked increase in remote employee output—even for employees who only worked from home a few days a week. During the study, the telecommuting group displayed a 13% average improvement in performance over the office-based control. And the middle market is catching on: a 2018 survey conducted by Indeed found that remote work is most common in midsize companies, two-thirds of which (67%) have instituted a flexible working policy.
Providing a flexible environment where employees are free to work from the office or from home allows businesses to tap into their workers’ full potential in order to maintain a competitive advantage and grow more quickly. But before embracing remote work, companies should consider updating their collaboration tools to accommodate a distributed workforce. According to AT&T Business, dispersed workers need access to fast file-sharing, consistent mobile connectivity, and insurance against security breaches. The clearest tipping point that your business is in need of an upgrade? An increase in available workspaces. Here are the signs to watch and solutions to deploy when your midsize business is ready to widen its scope.
Three signs you’re ready for new collaboration tools
Growing midsize businesses should be on the lookout for clues that it’s time to invest in scalable collaboration solutions. Here are three indicators that you’re due for an upgrade:
🔍 You’ve got more file-sharing and video conferencing applications than you can count.
Your employees based in New York use a different file-sharing program than the remote team in San Francisco. Meanwhile, you’re struggling to justify the cost of six different video conferencing vendors.
🔍 Remote employees are dialing into meetings or hosting calls via devices that aren’t securely connected.
The portable nature of smartphones and tablets make them an essential part of any remote employee’s toolkit. While working from the corner coffee shop may be the new normal, logging into company documents via multiple devices requires the same secure connection that you have in the office.
🔍 Your distributed employees are juggling multiple devices on a daily basis.
The marketing team tends to use laptops for remote brainstorm meetings, the sales team prefers to take client calls from their phones, and the product team likes to use a dual-screen setup that includes both a tablet and a desktop. It’s not the most efficient—or scalable—arrangement.
Three ways to get your workforce on the same page
If you’re facing these signs, it’s time to seek out progressive collaboration tools to help distributed workers serve a more effective role in your organization’s continued growth. AT&T Business offers a flexible, cloud-based solution that makes it possible for employees to log in from anywhere to access near real-time integration of communication services like desktop sharing and web conferencing.
To upgrade their collaboration ecosystem, companies need to develop a comprehensive, integrated plan. AT&T Business has outlined some strategic guidelines for your expanding midsize business:
💻 Adopt a single, cloud-based solution.
Using one provider for services like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), instant messaging, video conferencing, and file-sharing means simplified, centralized management. When these services are housed in the cloud, the user experience is virtually seamless, scalable, and cost-effective, regardless of physical location.
💻 Minimize security risks via VPNs.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) mitigate the risk of security incidents. Urging remote workers to use a VPN adds an extra layer of protection for those overseas or who frequently use unsecured connections (in a coffee shop or in the airport, for instance).
💻 Ensure your collaboration platform supports all devices.
Prioritize a system that lets workers switch devices easily so that they almost never lose track of projects or drop calls when jumping from one device to another. Flexibility is another consideration—opt for tools that will be adaptable to new mobile technologies as they emerge and evolve.
As distributed workforces continue to rise, midsize companies stand to leverage their expanding geographic footprint. But in order to benefit from this tipping point and the productivity of satellite offices and remote workers, employees need the collaboration tools to succeed: efficient file-sharing, robust mobile connectivity, and coordinated software upgrades. AT&T Collaborate offers a flexible solution that makes it simple for companies to scale with a dynamic workforce. By staying agile and improving communication, businesses can forge a pathway for growth among teams, between employees and customers, and even across oceans.
To learn more about how to improve collaboration across your employee network, visit AT&T Business online today.
This article was produced on behalf of AT&T Business by Quartz Creative and not by the Quartz editorial staff. Sources are provided for informational and reference purposes only. They are not an endorsement of AT&T Business or its products.