If you work 48 weeks in the year and spend a conservative five hours weekly commuting to and from work, you are spending 240 hours a year driving. How can technology be leveraged to acquire that time back?
Up until recent years, the only option for working was to physically enter an office to place in your 40-50 hours weekly behind a stuffy desk surrounded by people you may or may not enjoy working with. As technology has evolved, so has the flexibility of whether you work in the office, at home, at the beach, or some other locale.
While technology does make it easier for employers to allow telecommuting, there is still a trust factor that comes into play. There are ways each employer can quantify productivity differently, but some companies are simply more comfortable knowing for sure their worker is at their desk during a predetermined time every day. Another consideration for employers is the morale of workers that are not working from home while another is allowed that luxury. Should they have 1 happy employee and 10 disgruntled employees or 10 content employees and 1 disgruntled employee? Rather than examining the struggles for employers that are faced with this choice, lets examine the technologies that allow working from home to be a fact a lot more often than it was 20-30 years ago.
If an employer decides to allow telecommuting, there are lots of tools available on the market that safeguard their investment.
· Worksnaps: This tool enables an employer to track how productive the work-at-home employee has been throughout the day. There are less detailed tools available but this one does not leave a lot of space for a work around by the employee. Beyond tracking the time spent in effective applications (Facebook not being one of these) the tool takes screenshots of the employee’s computer screen throughout the day to be sure that the employee is productive while action is showing on their computer. They will even count the amount of mouse and keyboard clicks.
· Internet: This is rather obvious but possibly the most important tool. The internet allows you to communicate with members of your staff, your company, and any outside clients. A number of companies have online products they use for home databases or other tools that are crucial to job duties of their employees.
· Google docs: This is free to anyone that has a Gmail account. It provides Microsoft based tools to people no matter where they are on earth. Google docs can be obtained to share documents whether for informational purposes or for each member of a group to edit the document. If you do not have Microsoft programs on your home computer, this is a excellent way to use them. They do not have the most current advantages of the current programs, but it will operate in a pinch.
· Trello: This is a popular tool which allows for project management across your group no matter everyone’s location. This may be used for individuals to organize to-do lists or monitor jobs, so everyone knows where the staff is at. The program lets you break the project into sections that can be more closely observed as the job progresses.
· Zoho: This is another project management tool, but it looks to have an abundance of features including overlapping features I have already discussed. There’s the capacity to track time spent on projects, offers charts and written documentation of the progress of the specific projects the team is working on, a calendar that the whole team can contribute to and view, document sharing capabilities, notes place for recording particular hurdles or bugs that need to be resolved. This is only the tip of the ice burg concerning the capabilities of this tool. The cost is relatively cheap as well ranging from $0 to get restricted access to $100/month/employee for access.
· Yammer: This is described as a Facebook for work. This platform allows an employer to send only relevant information to employees. Then workers can communicate within their specific teams to accomplish goals.
· Skype: This is a free service which enables face-to-face communication between workers. The tool is internet based and allows you to bring a lot of people into the conversation/collaboration.
· GoTo Meeting: This is a great tool for webinars as it will allow you to broadcast to tens of thousands of people that join. In addition, for those that can’t attend the meeting or would like to watch the meeting for another time the meetings can be listed. You can share your screen with those that signed up for the meeting allowing for project collaboration or even training.
· Viewflux: There are plenty of sites geared towards designers, viewflux being among them. These sites allow you to share your layouts with a group of individuals. Those people can specify changes they want made by marking up the page. Have you ever wanted someone to change something about a picture and you try to describe in several words just what a few words and a arrow could explain? These sites make a world of difference for designers and their customers and team members.
· Dropbox: If you have files larger than what can fit on the Google drive, dropbox is an option for a place to share files with your team. According to Dropbox, this is a safe way to share documents.
· Nimble: This is a great tool for sales people and individuals with large networks to stay organized. This tool combines your social media and email contacts into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. The application even links conversations you have had with these contacts, so you can recall the contact in that specific context.
These are just a few of the tools that people can use when they work from home or perhaps work in the office. The cooperation potential with the tools can simplify procedures which are long overdue for change. Additionally, the telecommuter can easily connect with and contribute to projects that are being working on in the workplace. Without these links, the telecommuter can quickly be disregarded as a member of the dynamic of the section they worked with in person.
While some may argue that society is more disconnected from one another than ever before, consider that technology isn’t a hindrance to our efforts to communicate but rather an advantage. I’d assert that society is communicating more efficiently, more often, and more efficiently than ever before due to technology and Nuisance Wildlife Trapper.
Imagine being able to work from 7:00-4:00 and being able to start dinner at 4:05 rather than 5:05. Now you have the time to help the kids with their homework, easily pick up the kids from soccer practice, spend some time focusing on your partner. The pressure to get things done can diminish as the level of technology increases if we leverage both. What will the ability to telecommute mean to your life? Do you do it currently?