The prevalence of the work-from-home lifestyle has been rising with ever-increasing veracity for the past few years.
Predictions were that, by 2020, 50% of the UK’s workforce would have flexible and remote working capabilities as part of their employment, with many working from their home office full-time. But circumstances change. 2020 saw a much higher number of individuals find themselves working from home than ever could have been forecast.
Still, it comes as no surprise that working from home has become the answer so many people have been looking for.
We’ve been laying the groundwork for stay-at-home work for many years now. While a wealth of online services and solutions have enabled remote working to become a titan of the business landscape, what really supported the development of the home office was day-to-day rituals.
From watching movies through streaming to ordering clothes and food online, modern culture has slowly been adapting to the idea of a world ruled by online services. The UK, as a community, has shifted its mindset to embrace the remote solutions available to us. We can see the benefits and boosts to efficiency that remote access provides. In turn, it has also created a dramatic increase in interest for all types of home-based activities, including employment.
In recent years, everything has gone online. From doctors to dentists, we live in an era where remote access is becoming normal. Even moving out of 2020, it is thought that as circumstances again shift, remote working will retain much of its current popularity. Now we’ve been forcibly exposed to the home-office environment, many will likely not seek to return to traditional setups.
But if we’re now truly in the work-from-home era, we need to be sure we’re ready for the unique challenges the home office environment brings. This blog looks at the best home-office tech for 2020 to help support your transition.
eFax Home-office Technology
Fax retains a specific significance in the B2B community, despite its advanced age. Statistics sourced by eFax demonstrate the sustained power of fax technology in the commercial environment — particularly when it comes to health, legal, and financial documentation and agreements.
The many benefits of fax — from security advantages to convenience — cultivate its continued necessity. However, fax machines are not ideal home office tech for 2020. While they are old-fashioned and outdated as hardware units, their biggest problems come from costs. Expensive to own, expensive to run, and expensive to maintain — often for a very minimal amount of input – they’re big and cumbersome machines you don’t want cluttering your finite home office space.
This fact leads businesses to one of the best home-office tech available in 2020: eFax online fax solutions. eFax takes fax and digitises the process. You can use the service to send and receive fax documents through your mobile phone or computer. You don’t need a fax machine to send fax anymore — your digital devices are the fax machine. In 2020, when remote working is so essential, it enables the continuation of faxing when fax machines are largely inaccessible.
Online Conferencing Software
Even in our digital age of emails and text messages, there is immense value in face-to-face communication. It allows us to be efficient in conveying long-form information; it also allows us to build relations, connect and read body language. With home-office work, face-to-face becomes nearly impossible, but there are ways to replicate the same experience long-distance.
Conference calling is not a new technology. Skype revolutionised the system and took the idea mainstream. Since then though, Skype has become more of a personal tool, similar to Apple Facetime. For practical business applications, it’s very limited. You need to download the software and keep it updated. You also need sign-in information, and its functionality is not particularly versatile.
When it comes to home-business technology, 2020 has some far more adaptive and sustainable offerings. Zoom has perhaps become the most famous, although other offerings may be preferable for your business. Zoom has been noted to have a number of vulnerabilities when it comes to data security and data sharing.
Whichever service you opt for, just make sure you choose one. Online conference calling is essential for maintaining valuable communication platforms during the remote-work era.
Cloud-Based Document Collaboration Home Working Tools
Google Drive and Microsoft 365 are two home office tech tools you need to be aware of if you’re working remotely and need to collaborate on projects. They are cloud-based systems that allow you to create text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that can be accessed from anywhere and edited by multiple individuals. It’s the ultimate in online work collaboration. Imagine having a document on your table at work, which everyone gathers around, making changes. This is what these solutions offer, except they offer them remotely.
But Google Docs and Microsoft 365 aren’t the only essential collaborative tools you need for home-office work. We’ve already outlined conferencing communication, but this is not the ideal situation for all forms of work connectivity. Having a conference call — even if it’s just one-to-one — is going to be disruptive and inconvenient if occurring regularly. You need ways to collaborate with your team quickly and effectively without being intrusive; ways that are also more efficient than services like email.
Applications like WhatsApp have become popular within remote-working communities, but this system has limitations and is only really suitable for small groups. The undisputed champion of 2020 home-office collaborative communication is tech solution Slack. An online chat portal, it allows businesses to develop direct message text chats across a series of channels and message boards. It helps keep work focused, communication flowing, and remote workers connected.
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Web Development Solutions
Website use has skyrocketed during the work-from-home era. Now more than ever, businesses and consumers alike are reliant on online solutions. To take advantage of available opportunities, businesses need to be adaptive in the web services they offer, and the online availability of their business.
Two million UK businesses still do not own even a website. That’s around 33% of all British enterprises, based on the near 6 million SMEs recorded by the FSB. Of those that do, many only have basic systems providing limited functionality and online visibility. For remote working to be successful, your ability to connect with your audience has to be remotely accessible to them as well. Some of the most valuable home-office tech for 2020 are web development tools that enable you to turn your website into a platform that grows your business.
Examples include an on-site eCommerce shopping experience for a retail business, a booking system for a service enterprise, and online cost quoting tools for bespoke solutions. These systems can often be built into your website using integrated technology, or you can have online tools built around them.
When you can’t get your customer in front of you for face-to-face arrangements, these tech tools can make a huge difference in the quality of your business service.
Home-office Productivity Software
A series of tools and solutions enable productivity in a traditional office environment. The home-office environment is no different. The only differences are the tools and solutions used.
You’ll find new obstacles to productivity emerge while working remotely. These include transmissions of files, managing team projects, signing documents, time management, making changes to branding and visual design, and other tasks that were easier in an office. Yet, there is no need for concern about seeing drops in productivity as a result of working from home. There are plenty of powerful home-office tech options designed to support every obstacle you might face. We cannot list them all here, as the list is seemingly endless and depends on the unique productivity obstacles of your business and industry, but here some examples based on a couple of those issues highlighted above:
- Signatures — Document signatures for everything from payments to supply requests can be essential. E-signatures can replace hand-written signatures to create legally-binding documents. eFax offers an e-signature feature you can use on all important files.
- Time Management — Concern over people working as intended has always been rife in the remote working community. If people aren’t checking into an office, how do you know they are actually working? Hubstaff is a work tracker that allows you to see staff work in real-time.
- Team Management— For project management, keeping a birds-eye-view of progress is vital. It can be the difference between success and failure. Work tracking tools like Teamwork or Trello can allow management to oversee task completion, assign new projects and monitor progression.
These examples demonstrate the problems faced and the home-office tech solutions designed to combat them. If you have a productivity issue that needs solving, you won’t have to look far to find a development team working to support you.
Remote-work Scheduling Tools
Without constant reminders in the office — from encounters with individuals and discussions with colleagues — it can become easy to forget commitments like meeting attendance and conference calls. It can also be difficult to get into contact with people to make arrangements. You can’t go and find them in the office anymore, and while you can call or message them, there is certainly an element of connectivity lost.
The solution to both problems is scheduling tools like Google Calendar or Calendly. What these tools allow you to do is to make arrangements and book meetings that also offer reminders sent to your computer and phone. For example, with Calendly, you can select times you are available, people can book in using those times, and then you’ll both be alerted about the upcoming meeting. It makes connectivity easy and straightforward without the risk of our forgetful nature impacting work activity.
Another simple yet powerful tool for scheduling is Doodle Poll. This system allows you to establish a series of dates and times for a group of people to connect. You can invite all individuals involved in a meeting to the Doodle Poll, where they can select what dates and times work for them. With varying availability, this allows everyone to easily align their schedules for the perfect meeting time.
eFax is essential home office tech for 2020. Sign up today for your free no-obligation trial and get access to business-boosting remote working features including digital faxing, e-signatures, document management services and more.