Five Technology Fixes for Common Work-From-Home Problems
We are all facing some or the other Work-From-Home problems. As former office-goers enter month eight of remote work, pandemic uncertainties may remain, but one thing’s crystal clear: The work-from-home lifestyle is here to stay. Large and small companies alike have taken drastic steps to adapt to the rapidly changing workplace. Experts predict many of these office evolutions will be with us indefinitely.
Take REI, the massive outdoor retailer that recently sold its new eight-acre corporate campus in Washington—before employees even commenced work there. Or, look at tech powerhouses Microsoft and Google. Both recently expanded their work-from-home polices into 2021 and beyond. And these are just three of the countless companies making virtual offices the norm—a trend that’s hardly surprising given 67% of companies predict they’ll allow remote work well into the future, if not forever.
Now to outsiders, eight months of remote work may seem like a long stint. But those in the throes of it know there’s still so much to learn. Some of the toughest pain points for newly remote teams include employee management and team collaboration—two elements that are essential for strong businesses, yet tricky to handle virtually. But, since remote work is no longer novel—it’s the new normal—it’s time for businesses to adapt, and there’s a variety of technology solutions to help.
Here are five of the most common remote-team problems and the gear solutions to fix them.
Problem: Staying Efficient Despite at-Home Distractions
Solution: Noise-canceling headsets.
With calls interrupted by dog barks and playing kids, it’s easy for employees to get distracted while trying to conduct business. And it only gets trickier during virtual meetings, since each employee brings their own set of distractions to the table. But, while they may not stop dogs howling or kids shouting, hands-free headsets can block out these background noises to make meetings as close to in-office efficiency as possible.
Today’s cutting-edge hands-free headsets have active noise canceling for both calls and work time. The headsets drown out background noise while employees focus on deep work like writing or crunching numbers. Then, when it’s time for a call, the microphone puts the speaker’s voice in focus—keeping those distracting background sounds at bay.
Problem: Lack of Face-to-Face Collaboration
Solution: Screen-sharing tablets for live work and annotation
From mentoring junior staff to collaborating on graphics and visuals, some workplace activities have been particularly impacted by work-from-home regulations. The days of pulling up a chair to talk through copy edits or brainstorm logo styles are paused, if not behind us. But screen-sharing tablets and styluses have stepped in to save the day.
With the right tablet, you can share your screen either by plugging it into your laptop or using the built-in sharing feature [depending on the device] so your colleagues can watch as you work. This solution is about as close as employees can get to walking through changes or working side by side. It also ensures your company is getting the most out of its employees. You hired your teams to work together, not in siloes, and this collaborative solution fosters virtual teamwork.
Problem: Family Members Monopolize the Internet With Video Games and Streaming
Solution: Internet throttling to prioritize devices
Strong, reliable internet is the key to an efficient workflow and distraction-free meetings, but what if teens hog the network for online gaming or nonstop YouTube streams? The results—dropped Zoom meetings or choppy presentations—are wreaking havoc on workplaces across the country. That’s why teams should capitalize on internet throttling, where you can prioritize your device or devices instead of other devices on the network, so you’re guaranteed the bandwidth you need for daily work.
Employees can set their throttle parameters in the network settings of the router, but it’s also something a partner like Adorama Business Solutions can arrange for clients who may not know where to start.
Problem: Syncing Visuals and Graphics Across Home Offices
Solution: Investing in cohesive monitors
One work-from-home blind spot companies now realize is the lack of image and color consistency across monitors. A monitor from one manufacturer often shows different color variations from a competitor’s monitor. That means employees working from their laptops are likely producing differently hued graphics than those working on high-quality monitors—which are likely also different from those working on the family’s average home desktop.
If you have a professional-grade monitor, you can tune it to show exactly what you need for printer output or collaborating with fellow artists on company visuals. These are well worth the price because you can actually see what the designer wants you to see, and everyone across the company is working from the same settings.
And monitor needs go beyond graphics. Frequent Excel users can expedite workflow with large or double monitors that allow them to see multiple columns and rows at once. Plus, high-resolution monitors—which typically run at 4K or 1080p versus a laptop’s grainier 720p resolution—make virtual meetings immersive and lifelike. The right monitor can make it feel like you’re seeing the person across from you. “ou can pick up on body language, facial expressions, and reactions.
Problem: Building Connection on New-Business Zoom Calls
Solution: Interactive presentations and high-quality equipment
Relationships are key to sealing a new business deal, but forging those partnerships is much tougher in a virtual setting.
How do you replicate bond-building lunch conversations—not just “how’s the weather” small talk—in a remote Zoom call?
And how can your team show their best work when frozen PowerPoints or dropped connections interfere?
First impressions are key for long-lasting business relationships, and in the virtual work world, this boils down to four essentials: monitors, tablets, high-power Internet, and practice.
Monitors are vital for picking up on nonverbal cues, such as raised eyebrows, bored expressions, or uncomfortable shifting—an obvious aversion to one particular part of your proposal that you’ll know to change later. With tablets, your team can annotate documents or visuals to engage prospective clients while showcasing how your company works, and the creative thinking you’ll bring to the table. Throttling the internet, and ensuring it’s strong and reliable, is key to avoiding those nerve-wracking technical difficulties that destroy confidence and flow. And practice, always important for new-business presentations, has never been more important as teams work from home, with the technology they’re still getting used to.
“Tough times” hardly begins to describe the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic. But with the right technology working for you and your employees, your teams can be prepared to tackle work-from-home life now and into the future—with a gradual gear investment that won’t break the bank.