The COVID-19 pandemic has forced 1.5 billion people around the world to stay home, as well as forced businesses to quickly adopt remote work policies. The sudden transition from working together in an office to being distributed has put unprecedented stress on teams and workflows across various industries. Businesses that are not prepared and not equipped for remote work are feeling the effects the hardest.
However, a number of tools are emerging to help companies manage their remote workers effectively. In the technological age, software can support managers and business leaders in maintaining a sense of normalcy among teams, while enhancing productivity and efficiency. Already, the use of appointment-scheduling platforms increased by 351% one week in March, while antivirus solutions are now the fourth top-rising software since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Here’s the best software to manage your remote workers effectively today.
Communication & collaboration tools
Logistics pose some of the biggest problems for remote workers. Not being able to walk to a colleague’s desk or organize a face-to-face meeting can seriously jeopardize how long a task takes, as well as how well people understand their responsibilities. Likewise, offline collaborative tools like whiteboards and post-it notes are often not appreciated until teams cannot use them to work together.
Communication and collaboration software closes the gap between ideation and action, enabling teams to work in real-time, get feedback, and build or reiterate products and services.
Office 365 is a line of packages that feature subscriptions to a variety of Microsoft Office products, plus cloud storage for documents, videos, presentations, and multimedia. All plans include the latest Office apps like Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook, one terabyte of OneDrive secure data storage, and product updates that aren’t available anywhere else. Microsoft Teams is included, too, empowering remote team communication and real-time collaboration on tasks. The software is compatible with any smart device and has strong security integrations.
Another Microsoft software, OneDrive, is a file-hosting and synchronization service where users can save files and photos, and access them from any device, anywhere. Rather than send emails with large attachments, remote employees can use their phones to scan, store, and share materials, and access selected files without an internet connection. Plans go up to as much as one terabyte of storage, or users can get 5 gigabytes for free.
Dropbox is a cloud storage platform that promotes itself as the ‘world’s first smart workspace’ and is used by over 450,000 business teams. With the tool, workers can centralize content – including integrated content from Google apps and Microsoft files – and stay in touch via combined communication tools like Slack and Zoom. The platform additionally has a secure, distributed infrastructure and admin tools to customize user control and visibility.
The boom in remote work has caused a surge in internet usage – increasing by up to 50% in some areas. And while people are often conscious of cybersecurity in a work setting, they are less conscious of being safe online when at home. Even more concerning, criminals are leveraging the pandemic to prey on uncertainty and actively tailoring malicious attacks around COVID-19.
Fortunately, there is software that can protect corporate data, financial transactions, login details or personal information, and other sensitive information.
Fortinet Firewall filters network traffic to protect organizations and employees from external threats online. Its features include packet filtering, network monitoring, VPN (virtual private network) support, and IP mapping. The software also has superior capabilities to identify malware and attacks, while allowing users to control apps, prevent intruders, and have heightened visibility across their networks. As a bonus, the software offers regular updates to ensure teams adapt to changing security issues and stay secure.
Antivirus is just as crucial for distributed teams. Kaspersky antivirus blocks viruses (including the most recent forms), ransomware, spyware, cryptolockers, and more. Additionally, the software stops attempts to take over webcams, blocks phishing, and can manage, store, and sync passwords between devices. On top, Kaspersky antivirus has encrypted browsing to protect users when making online transactions. Working in real-time, the software operates in the background without slowing down users’ computers or devices.
A particularly effective solution for keeping remote team activities safe, Forticlient is a multilayered endpoint security software with behavior-based analysis for prevention against known and unknown threats. The integrated endpoint platform comes with next-generation threat protection that allows users to identify and remediate vulnerable or compromised hosts, and control software and hardware across teams.
Cisco IPsec VPN
VPN usage has shot up since the outbreak of COVID-19; one provider has even reported a 165% rise since early March. Cisco IPsec VPN connects remote workers to corporate intranets, data, and apps via a secure GRE tunnel established over an IP infrastructure. Remote teams can send and receive sensitive information over potentially-unprotected networks like personal WiFi connections. Cisco IPsec VPN provides data confidentiality, data integrity, and data authentication between participating peers.
Charging the move to remote work
Many businesses are concerned about disruption to work processes amid COVID-19, but with software such as the tools listed above, remote teams can overcome obstacles and develop new protocols for remote work in the future. Even better, a number of technologies are being offered for free or reduced prices at the moment, so companies can experiment with solutions that are best suited to their needs and goals.
Essentially, COVID-19 is enacting an experiment where companies can rapidly modernize and prepare themselves for the possibility of remote work as a norm in business. And while there is pressure on managers to organize teams and provide results, software is key to transitioning from in-person teams to distributed teams without compromising quality.