From Wi-Fi calling on your mobile to squeezing more value from your business apps, here are some ideas to help you communicate and collaborate effectively, even when your team’s apart.

Remote and mobile teams are the future of work. Even before the coronavirus lockdown forced us to stay away from the office, the Office of National Statistics was reporting that, of the 32.6 million people in employment, around four million would be working from home in any given week. That’s four million people working full-time from home, or working part of the week in an office and part at home, or doing most of their work while on the move. Whatever the structure, giving your staff the ability to work remotely across different locations is a trend that’s here to stay.

While this type of work is a boon for workers who want more flexibility in their schedules – and can slash thousands from your office costs – it’s also true that remote teams face unique challenges. Losing the immediacy of face-to-face conversations means a quick information exchange that should take seconds may stretch out to minutes over Google Hangouts or Slack. Getting the right technology is essential for keeping productivity up and achieving the type of work-from-home nirvana your people deserve.

Here are tips for making remote collaboration a little bit easier so your teams can work well and closely – even if they’re miles apart.

Never miss a call again

Working from home or in transit sounds idyllic until reality sets in: a fair chunk of your team lives in a mobile signal black spot and they’re missing calls left, right and centre. Either that, or they’re resorting to using their personal landline for business calls which doesn’t look very professional.

Luckily, it’s easy to mitigate these connectivity challenges. Wi-Fi calling is a neat tool that makes 3G and 4G blackspots a thing of the past. As long as someone has access to a Wi-Fi network, they can use the Wi-Fi to make and receive calls and text messages no matter what’s going on with the signal.

All types of Wi-Fi networks are compatible with the service. This includes the one you pay for at home, as well as public ones in train stations, airports and coffee shops. You’ll need a business phone contract that lets you access Wi-Fi calling as well as a compatible handset, but the good news is, all the major UK carriers offer Wi-Fi calling in some form.

Once the contract’s set up, we can configure the service so your people can seamlessly use one contact number across all their mobile and Wi-Fi calling. That means clearer calls, from one contact number, in more places than ever before.

Listen and sound your best

Sound quality is a real issue for remote and on-the-go staff, especially those that live with a family. A good pair of headphones is essential for muffling out the background noise and elevating the experience of meeting tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

There’s a huge amount of choice out there, which can make choosing the best business headphones challenging. For home-based workers who spend a lot of time on the phone, noise-cancelling headphones with microphones should stop them sounding like they’re in Lagos when they’re in Loughborough – with these sets, the people you’re speaking to won’t hear any background noise at all.

The best business headphones strike a balance between quality and value – ideally, you want a super-comfortable set with high-end audio and a great battery life that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. They should also be lightweight and compact enough to carry around, and look smart and professional as well.

With a little planning it’s possible to find terrific headphones at a good price. A quick audit of your needs should point you in the right direction – talk to us about finding the best option.

Explore the technologies that drive collaboration

Business apps like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Sharepoint and Dropbox can turn even the most remote team into collaboration champions. But are you getting the most out of them? Many people are familiar with tools like group chat, private messaging, file sharing, calendar sharing and video conferencing. But if you look under the hood, you’ll probably find a slew of tools that can do so much more than you’re using them for.

Take Microsoft Teams, for instance. As of March 2020, the platform has around 44 million active daily users, generating over 900 million meeting minutes every single week. As a collaboration tool, it’s one of our favourites. But did you know that you can:

  • Collaborate on and edit documents in real time
  • Import business analytics tools like MS Power BI directly into your Team group, so it appears right there on the dashboard
  • Assign tasks and deadlines to teams and individuals, so the entire workflow is in one place
  • Explore the Teams store for a whole host of integrations – applications like Lucidchart, Miro, Hubspot, Slack and Spotify – ready to install out of the box
  • Schedule, manage and conduct virtual appointments like client meetings and job interviews
  • Assign team members with specific tags by project, role, location or other attribute. For instance, the head of sales can send a message to all managers, using @manager to send the message only to those individuals.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list and Microsoft is introducing new toys all the time. But if you have virtual teams, it’s definitely worth playing around with your collaboration tools to make sure you’re aware of all the features and getting the most value for your money.

Wrapping up

There are many benefits to remote work, and the number of people doing it is only going to grow over the next few years. But it’s not without its challenges. Signal strength, distractions and weak collaboration can potentially derail your efforts if you don’t have a solid game plan in place.

The key to overcoming these challenges is to have the right tools at your fingertips. Wi-Fi calling, good headphones and quality business apps that you’re using to their fullest can make all the difference in the world when it comes to remote work. These are this generation’s whiteboard, meeting room and water cooler – except you can collaborate from anywhere.