Today’s workplaces as we know them may soon be a thing of the past. Last year, 43 percent of employees spent at least some time working remotely, according to a recent Gallup survey. In fact, this statistic reflects a 4 percent increase since 2012, highlighting a growing work-from-home trend in the years to come.
Also read: HR’s Future is Big Data
By 2020, more than one-third of companies expect to have more than half of their workforce working remotely, according to a survey by Global Leadership Summit. For HR professionals, this presents a unique challenge about how to effectively manage remote workforces. Here are four ways to use cloud-based technology to optimize company and employee productivity.
1. Use Cloud Communications Tools
Prior to the rise of the cloud, email was the primary form of business communication. But traditional email has always suffered from major limitations. For instance, if an employee receives an email for the first time in the middle of an ongoing thread, updating them on previous messages can be cumbersome. And if a document is shared as an attachment, it’s difficult to ensure all employees keep their versions in sync with their colleagues.
However, cloud-based communication tools like Slack solve these problems by replacing the email paradigm with one borrowed from online chat, where multiple participants can converse in the same thread and access documents instantaneously. Meantime, tools like Skype for Business allow remote employees and their in-office counterparts to use video chat technology in order to hold face-to-face conversations.
2. Employ Cloud Productivity Suites
As you know all too well, traditional computer software can have its limitations, as users must email or print copies of documents and spreadsheets to access off site. That’s where the cloud has an advantage.
Cloud-based software makes popular office tools available to mobile employees without the need for local installation. Instead, remote employees can access word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software on their computers, tablets and smartphones via the cloud, with files guaranteed to always be the most up to date.
Plus, many popular suites of programs include additional cloud storage space. Tom’sITPro.com offers a side-by-side comparison of popular cloud office suites, including Microsoft Office 365, Google G Suite, LibreOffice ownCloud and Zoho Online Office Suite, to help your business decide which programs would be most advantageous.
3. Manage Your Team with Project Management Software
Cloud-based tools can also be useful for managing staff and project schedules. For example, Aspect’s workforce management software uses smart scheduling tools to help managers see what team resources are available in order to make more optimal decisions about how to deploy personnel. The software lets managers forecast staffing requirements for all customer-facing inbound, outbound and back-office resources.
The importance of workforce management software cannot be understated. Specifically, the technology allows managers to see when project and customer service workloads are at risk of piling up and causing delays, enabling business leaders to make changes in order for projects to remain on schedule.
For example, if the forecast indicates a spike in customer service requests, managers can determine in advance how many representatives should be assigned to handle the workload and who might be available for scheduling.
You can also use cloud-based project management tools, including Basecamp, Zoho Projects and Microsoft Office 365, to create projects, delegate tasks, schedule deadlines, and track employee progress.
4. Use a Cloud-Based Payroll System
Finally, paying your workers is yet another task you can manage online, as cloud-based payroll software tools let you:
- Integrate your payroll calculations with time-tracking tools
- Automatically calculate tax withholdings
- Manage employee bonuses and off-cycle pay runs
- Deliver payroll by check or direct deposit
Most cloud-based offerings integrate with popular software programs, including QuickBooks. But, in case you need help identifying the best software, PCMag has provided reviews of today’s best online payroll software, which includes Intuit Enhanced Payroll, Gusto, Paychex Flex and SurePayroll. Strong support is crucial for effective cloud-based payroll management, so choose a provider with a good reputation for customer service.