Since widespread internet service has made remote working more accessible for a large swath of the workforce, the number of companies with distributed employees and contractors has grown. As early as 2010, one of out every three workers worked from outside the office at least once per week. After pandemic-related shutdowns resulted in more than 165 million Americans working from home, remote work is more common than ever.
Some of the earliest criticism of remote work was the lack of employee oversight. Managers worried that distractions and lack of connection with in-office colleagues would hamper productivity. However, after the pandemic, companies quickly discovered that workers were in fact more engaged and focused outside of the office. The ability to work from home has also become one of the most in-demand employee benefits.
With the worst fears quelled, businesses now face the challenge of implementing tools and systems that would enable their employees to work from anywhere. In part to the rise of remote work since the 2020 pandemic, the B2B Software-as-a-Service market is now predicted to double by 2026. B2B technology firms have taken note of this trend to adapt their offerings to the new realities introduced by a far more mobile workforce.
Leveraging Technology for Flexible Workspaces
Many administrative tools, such as Google and Microsoft Office already include features that promote collaboration such as multi-device access or real-time synchronization. However, companies with proprietary software or more complex processes need bespoke solutions to virtualize their workspaces. Amazon, Citrix, and dozens of other tech companies have developed their own digital workspace solutions for the corporate market.
Digital workspaces use encrypted keys and secure servers to provide an extra layer of protection between the employee’s personal device, WiFi connection, and the company’s confidential information. Once in the portal or workspace, employees can upload and share files, communicate with colleagues, and even access the same systems available in the office.
Communication and project management tools like Slack, Asana, and Basecamp can also function as digital workspaces for remote workers. For a monthly or annual subscription, companies can use this software to enroll and manage dozens or even hundreds of employees, projects, and files in one centralized location.
Recommended: 5 Ways To Keep Customers Happy
Improving Web and Cloud-based Tools and Infrastructure
Before internet connection was everywhere, companies centralized their files and digital data on on-site hard drives. This solution had several disadvantages, including the need to purchase more hardware and vulnerability to crashes or outages.
Cloud-based storage removes most of these issues, as files are securely stored within a massive network of state-of-the-art servers capable of processing and storing data generated by billions of users. The cloud also decentralizes file access; if a single server crashes, the information migrates to a functioning part of the system. This provides extra security against data loss.
Due to its benefits, more than 94% of businesses incorporate cloud computing into their processes. The 6% that do not will find it difficult to enable remote work, and in turn, miss out on top-tier talent.
Companies can use private clouds to migrate some aspects of their business online. This can be especially useful in firms where only certain positions can be performed from off-site. The private cloud can store solely the data needed by remote workers, while all other systems can remain in-house.
Private cloud providers often provide clients with a dedicated IT team. Concerns about infrastructure monitoring and maintenance are taken off the company’s plate and entrusted to qualified professionals. Further, scaling a private cloud doesn’t require any additional equipment.
Maintaining Security Beyond the Office
Possibly one of the most pronounced concerns with remote work is safety. Employees are a common target for hacking and phishing scams. The risk of a security breach increases if employees log into company servers with personal devices or an unsecured wifi connection. Devices themselves can become security risks if they are lost or stolen.
Companies can mitigate these issues by providing extensive and ongoing cybersecurity training. Employees can also improve their security protocols by working from a co-working facility equipped with a physical key management system that prevents unauthorized individuals from accessing their workspace. If employees choose to work from a public location, they should only access the internet through their cellular data rather than public WiFi.
The pivot to remote and hybrid work schedules has fueled demand for Software as a Service, hardware, and other tools that facilitate virtual collaboration. Technology companies interested in capturing a piece of this multi-billion dollar market should identify the issues companies are facing in this new world of work. Innovative solutions that improve security, streamline processes, and boost employee productivity will quickly find a consumer base.