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Aug
08

4 Technologies to Humanize the Remote Work Experience

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If you work remotely or manage remote workers, you’re in good company. A Gallup survey found that in 2016, 43 percent of those working in the U.S. worked remotely at least some of the time, up from 39 percent in 2012. This shift is viewed positively by many employers and employees, who say that remote workers are more productive and that the flexibility of remote work attracts more non-traditional employees to the workplace.

However, this same survey found, probably not surprisingly, that while those who work remotely 100 percent are generally happy, they feel less engaged than coworkers in two areas: relationships with other employees and professional development. Both deficit areas stem from the lack of personal interaction with co-workers and management. So if you’re a remote worker or manage a remote team, how can you keep remote work from feeling robotic and disconnected? Here are four technologies that can help humanize the remote work experience.

1. Face-to-face video conferencing software

Face-to-face contact is crucial for successful working relationships and is obviously lacking in most remote working situations. As often as possible, use video conferencing software both for formal and spontaneous meetings. This will help give a human face to remote workers and establish a genuine connection between coworkers. Get a virtual meeting software that allows for spontaneity, agility and true telepresence when needed.

2. Communication app

One of the ways coworkers traditionally bond is through the seemingly unimportant chatter that happens in the hallways or break rooms. To help foster this bond virtually, get a messaging app for your team. The most popular of these apps is Slack, which allows you to organize conversations into channels, share files and prioritize conversations. Many teams will keep one channel open just for ongoing personal chats and encourage remote workers to start each morning there.

3. Project Management software

Ongoing projects with a remote team can be hard to coordinate without a project management software. Tasks can easily be duplicated or go unnoticed without face-to-face communication. One of the most straightforward project management tools is Asana, which is a cloud-based tool that allows for task management, team assignments and conversation tracking. For a project management software with more bells and whistles, check out Basecamp, which allows you to set deadlines, share documents, assign and monitor tasks, and collaborate with team members via a mobile or desktop app.

4. Telephone

With all the great technologies available to remote workers, one of the most useful tools remains the telephone. Picking up the phone to talk to team members can go a long way towards forging personal relationships. If you’re working with people in various time zones, get EveryTimeZone, which will show you how each time zone overlaps with yours and give you a better idea of when to place that call.

Of course, all of these great communication technologies are only effective if they are used. Whether you manage a team with remote workers, or are a remote worker yourself, you’ll need to be more intentional about staying in touch. Early on in the remote working relationship, establish a regular pattern of communication and stick to it.

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