In today's always-connected workforce, strict 9-5 offices requiring employees to be onsite at all times are starting to sound like a relic of workday's past.
The digital workplace is evolving quickly, with powerful communication and collaboration software allowing people to work how and where they want.
Teams are always connected, but it’s no longer critical that they are together.
The Future of Work is Remote
It’s unlikely that traditional offices will disappear anytime soon, but there’s no questioning that the remote workforce is growing. 38% of workers in the United States work remotely at least part of the time, with that number expected to rise thanks to rapid advancements in communication and collaboration technologies. Remote workers can be any of the following:
- Full time or part time employees who occasionally work outside the office
- Full time or part time employees who are entirely remote
- Full or part time contractors, freelancers and consultants who already work independently
Companies failing to provide flexible work options will lack a competitive edge for several reasons. For example, when no longer confined by the boundary of location, companies can source and hire the best talent available. Companies are also discovering that by allowing workers the flexibility they want makes for happier and more productive workers, leading to a measurable positive impact on profitability.
The digital workplace is evolving quickly, with powerful communication and collaboration software allowing people to work how and where they want. Teams are always connected, but it’s no longer critical that they are together.
Despite its benefits, the remote workforce is relatively new and companies commonly struggle with determining the best path toward productivity and engagement. A remote workforce only succeeds when done right, with collaboration software and policies in place being used to position teams to be efficient and company-centric whether they are in an office, at home in their pajamas, or halfway across the world.
Leveraging the Intranet to Unite a Remote Workforce
Your organizational Intranet is the key to developing a remote workforce that does not compromise on company culture or worker productivity. In fact, effectively leveraging your Intranet will ensure your workforce is strong, collaborative and cohesive. Companies must remain agile, willing to test and change as they learn how to optimize remote employee workflows, productivity, engagement and satisfaction.
There are several ways your Intranet can help:
1. Connect Everyone to the Company’s Mission
The most engaged employees are those who understand and identify with their company’s mission. It’s not enough to have a page on your website outlining your company’s purpose or to discuss it during employee onboarding and then never speak of it again. A space on the company Intranet focused on sharing information relating to how the company’s mission is being met, allows everyone to feel connected to a common purpose. Encourage employees to engage with this content so that purpose-driven work is never far from mind.
2. Drive Collaboration
Collaboration is a buzzword in every modern digital workplace, especially one that includes remote workers. Everyone wants the best tools and methods to optimize team collaboration no matter where employees are. Smart companies will allow employees to test various tools throughout the year. While your Intranet is your main collaboration portal, offerings like integrated document management and social Intranet tools also provide the ability for employees to test and discuss collaboration methods and to track ROI to determine whether new tools and technologies are worth bringing into a wider company testing phase.
3. Market to Each Other
In large companies, various departments have little idea about what’s going on with other departments, or why they should care. This is especially true for remote workers who are generally only engaging with the handful of people they need to do their job. Your Intranet is the perfect place to feature articles and videos describing exciting events happening in each department.
4. Encourage Open Forums
A powerful feature of the Intranet is that it gives everyone in the company a voice. Blogs, wikis, commenting capabilities, social Intranet tools and more, help to break down traditional silos, providing equal opportunity for all employees to view and engage with one another. This is especially important for remote workers who may feel disconnected from the connections formed when working in a traditional office space.
5. Secure Mobile Capability
Supporting work via a Mobile is a fundamental part of what defines a modern remote worker. Young workers especially blur the line between work and life, and many choose remote work because they prefer the life of a digital nomad, able to work from anywhere in the world. A powerful, secure mobile Intranet is critical to empowering these employees with access to the information they need no matter where they are.
6. The Extranet and the Gig Economy
Gig economy workers are freelancers or contractors performing a specific job function, such as graphic designer or content specialist. These freelancers are highly skilled and specialized, and can therefore work multiple ‘gigs’ with various companies.
While it’s clearly beneficial to hire specialized people for limited projects, it can be a challenge to ensure freelancers and contractors have access to the information they need. Companies must ensure they are protecting proprietary information, while still allowing for a collaborative work relationship. Your Intranet is probably home to sensitive information, and you certainly don’t want an outside employee to inadvertently come across something they shouldn’t have access to. Data security is critical.
Your Extranet makes it easy to securely share information that you want remote workers to access.
Extranets are Intranets that can be partially accessed by authorized outside users, enabling businesses to exchange only the information relevant to that user’s work. This can include specific collaboration spaces, document storage locations, social spaces, collateral sharing and much more.
7. Gaining a Competitive Edge with Remote Workers
The future of work will continue to change as businesses increasingly adopt remote work options. Companies hoping to sustain a competitive edge will accordingly evolve alongside the needs of their workforce to ensure teams are productive and engaged. Intranets and Extranets are the platform upon which businesses can unite remote workers to ensure they are always connected and able to easily collaborate with your internal teams.