Tech-Enabled Solution for Remote Workers: A 2024 Outlook

Quynh Pham

Quynh Pham | 09/04/2024

Tech-Enabled Solution for Remote Workers: A 2024 Outlook

Remote work has become an integral aspect of modern working culture. This work arrangement has been perceived positively, as 98% of respondents in a survey would like to work remotely, at least occasionally. According to a Gallup survey, in 2023, eight out of ten workers will be remote or hybrid. Research has also shown that remote work can boost productivity. One-third of the recruiting managers reported that remote work had enhanced productivity; this is a higher percentage than those who reported a drop in production.

Even though working remotely is deemed positive, the path is not always smooth. As a matter of fact, the remote workforce has reported increased burnout and disconnection from coworkers. More important is the question of value - how can remote work generate value?

Faced with this question, this article will dig deep into the world of remote workers and examine its current landscape in 2024, common challenges and possible solutions, and remote work software to help remote employees achieve better work-life balance.

Remote Work Overview in 2024

Remote Work Overview in 2024

Brief History of Remote Work

Remote work is far from a new concept. The idea of having people gather en masse to complete work, in fact, only emerged after the Industrial Revolution. Before that, workers were working alone in their own residences.

In 1973, some IBM workers tried working from home to test the effectiveness of “telecommuting,” a concept coined in 1993. Then, in 1999, garage startups were all the rage. People worked from their garages, bedrooms, and anywhere to kickstart their businesses.

This reveals a bigger picture. It is true that remote work has indeed been popularized since the pandemic as a temporary solution to an unprecedented problem, but working remotely has been around for a long time. The arrival of compact devices, WiFi, cloud storage, collaboration tools like Slack, and project management tools like Jira has only made working from anywhere easier and more convenient.

Remote Work in 2024

We are stepping into our fifth year of remote work. So, is this work arrangement still relevant in 2024? Here are notable shifts and trends that you can expect in this year and the years to follow.

  • The ideal working arrangement is still a hot topic of debate. However, flexible working will quickly become the new normal in 2024. The focus now is on how employees work, not where they work.
  • Office occupancy is expected to rise in 2024. This is because employers believe this will enhance collaboration and productivity and reduce layoffs when downsizes happen. However, some employees don’t agree and are ready to quit their current jobs to look for a new one that meets their demands.
  • Since flexible work is here to stay, it is high time that employers implement stricter and permanent guidelines for managing remote teams and find a balance between employee’s demands and desire for office attendants.
  • A consistent and clear policy for remote work and remote teams will help find that balance.

All in all, it is worth discussing the solutions remote employees face and possible technical solutions that help them produce better and higher-quality work.

Common Challenges Remote Workers Face and the Solutions

Team Communication Barrier

Only commuting through screens can lead to several challenges. For starters, when body language is lost, it is prone to misinterpret what someone is saying. Without direct interaction, it is also difficult to build rapport and trust among colleagues. During ineffective meetings where expectations aren’t clarified, not everyone is on the same page, which leads to workflow or problems.

To combat overreliance on written communication, teams need to have clear communication protocols in place. For instance, the remote and on-site teams schedule regular check-ins to foster collaboration and gain valuable insights. Cultivating a culture of transparency, inclusion, and communication is another way to overcome communication barriers.

Ineffective Team Collaboration

Struggling to communicate often hinders cooperation. Without face-to-face meetings, brainstorming and discussion sessions are not as effective. In addition, the workflow and data sharing might not be as effective and smooth as when in-office. Team members might be unaware of the latest document versions, for example, resulting in bottlenecks and missed deadlines.

Once again, a consistent and clear policy is key. Have clear processes in place that define the communication channel and responsibilities. Regular check-ins are crucial as well, and remember to create a space where members are comfortable sharing ideas or addressing problems. Hosting virtual team-building activities once in a while is also a good idea to strengthen collaboration.

Technical Issues

Remote work relies on an Internet connection and strong technological devices. Unreliable Internet connections or crashed devices are most remote workers’ worst nightmares. It is up to you to fix the problem and get the project running so that you can jump on that meeting on time.

The solution here is always to have a backup plan. For example, always prepare a WiFi hotpot when the Internet is down. Back-up devices like a tablet with a connected keyboard will also save you a lot of trouble or stress over delayed work or an angry client.

Distractions and Time Management

Remote work has its perks. Saving time on commuting, working from the comfort of your own home, and having more time for family are some of them. However, there are trade-offs to be made, such as potential distractions that can blur the line between work and personal time, ultimately affecting one’s mental health.

To avoid this from happening, remote employees should be proactive in establishing routines—a system where you plan what to do before the day starts—and intentional in minimizing interruptions. A great idea is to have a sign hanging outside your door and let your family members know that you are working. Have clear shut-down processes where you completely disconnect from work before refocusing on your personal life.

How Does Technology Facilitate and Elevate Remote Work?

If you are an employee looking to elevate your remote working game or a manager looking for remote team management tools, this part is for you. Not every challenge in remote working must be combated with policies and plans; having the right technical tools in your arsenal is one such way to make remote working easier and more productive.

Communication Tools

Communication tools entail virtual meeting platforms, chat apps, documentation, and collaboration tools. A strong communication tool can be very beneficial to team members as well as remote managers.

Virtual Meeting Platform

  • Google Meet: Famous for its user-friendly interface and simplicity, Google Meet offers Google Workspace integration, video meetings, screen sharing, recording, and scheduling features for seamless collaboration. Its strong security measures, accessibility features, and high-quality video calls contribute to its popularity. Nevertheless, some advanced features require a paid subscription.
  • Microsoft Teams: This stool stands out for its deep integration with Microsoft apps, enterprise-level security, and extensive customization options. Chat, video meetings, file sharing, and channels for deeper discussions are some of its notable features. However, a steep learning curve and limited free version features are what might stop users from trying the tool.
  • Zoom: Zoom is a popular tool for video conferencing, messaging, recording, and scheduling meetings. Its intuitive interface, versatile features such as scalability abilities (suitable for small teams and large webinars), and broad compatibility make it a common choice in organizations. Its limitations are the time limits and features on free plans.

Chat Apps

  • Slack is a popular instant messaging application. It encompasses a number of features, including channels, file sharing, third-party app integrations, video calls, guest access, etc. Slack facilitates streamlined communications and allows users to search for information within channels or chat boxes. Slack’s drawbacks include steep learning curves, message retention limitations, and advanced features pricing.
  • Flock is a new tool seeking to solve the problem of instant messaging, messy information, and email overload. Offering basic features of an instant messaging app like file sharing and video conferencing, it also offers polls, surveys, and task management. Even though Flock has a user-friendly interface, its learning curve can be challenging for beginners. The free plan offers limited features only.
  • Discord: Even though Discord is initially famous among gamers, it can still be a great tool for instant messaging within organizations. The tool offers roles and permissions within the company, bots and integrations, cross-platform accessibility, and community-building functions. Despite its versatility, there have been security concerns. Discord can be quite resource-intensive, too.

Documentation and Collaboration Tools

  • Notion: This is a well-known documentation tool you can use to centralize your team’s knowledge base. Notion offers databases, templates, and document collaboration features.
  • Basecamp: More than a centralized data center, you can use Basecamp as a project management tool with to-do lists, message boards, and check-ins to reduce email overload and scattered information.
  • Dropbox Business: As a cloud-based collaboration tool, Dropbox is a safe document storage for sharing editing and third-party integrations.

Time Management Tools

  • Toggl is easy to use and integrates with Google Calendar. Thus, you can keep track of your current tasks and upcoming events. More than that, Toggl also offers expense tracking features, making it a convenient all-arounder. Keep in mind that its customization features are limited, and it can be hard to view tasks chronologically.
  • RescueTime: As distractions are one of the biggest challenges any remote worker might face, RescueTime is here to rescue you from the situation. You can gain insights into the time you spend on applications and websites and have a clearer idea of your productivity patterns. However, you cannot assign tasks with this tool.
  • Time Doctor: If you require detailed analytics and time tracking of activities, Time Doctor is the way to go. It monitors project progress, tracks idle time, and even allows you to view screenshots of employee activity. However, this extensive approach might feel like micromanagement for some teams.

Security Measures to Protect Your Data

Remote working demands strong security measures.

  • VPNs are essential, as they encrypt your internet connections and protect you from potential attacks. If you choose to work in coffee shops or public spaces, for example, being connected to public connections means you are exposed to the dangers of cyber attacks. Services like NordVPN or Express VPN can protect you.
  • Firewalls safeguard your sensitive information, be it personal or company data, by controlling network traffic. You also need antivirus software to keep your system safe. In conclusion, cybersecurity is a necessity and non-negotiable.

If you want to read more on this topic, here is a deep dive into the best technology for working remotely.

Remote Work Is Here to Stay

Although the debate about the ideal work arrangement is still ongoing, remote work is here to stay. Instead of resisting this trend, embracing it and looking for solutions to elevate the company’s and employee’s working experience is how you thrive in the modern working landscape. After all, it’s about how work gets done, not where.

At Orient Software, we understand the changing landscape of remote work. We’re here to help your organization thrive, regardless of location. Contact us today and see how we can be your remote work partner!

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