Coronavirus: how to efficiently work remotely using cloud apps
How to leverage business apps to communicate and collaborate in isolation.
At the time of writing the latest government advice on measures that might help to slow the spread of COVID-19 is very clear. Wherever possible, people are to work from home, and this represents a huge shift in the working (and indeed family) life of millions of people in the UK.
Before the crisis, the latest figures for the number of people working from home in the UK were gathered for the ONS (Office of National Statistics) Labour Force Survey published in 2018. This survey found that 1.54 million people were working from home in their main job, a figure which had risen from 884,000 in 2008. Whilst today’s numbers under the current rules won’t be collated for quite some time, it’s clear that many millions more are now in the unusual position of having to set up a work station in their own home.
A Permanent Shift
This shift to remote working which was already taking place is likely to become more permanently embedded even when the COVID-19 virus has, thankfully, been brought under control. The advantages which spring from home and remote working, particularly under more normal circumstances, are clear for both businesses and employers. These advantages include the reduced overhead spend on dedicated office space and the impact which a more carefully calibrated work-life balance can have on the health and well-being of employees.
We also cannot ignore the positive effects on the environment due to, for example, a cut in the number of daily commutes being taken. It seems fairly certain, after all, that when the current crisis has been dealt with the health and well-being of the population in general and workers in particular, as well as the condition of the environment surrounding us all, will be at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds.
It can be, therefore, worth considering the enormous benefits to be gained from using systems that help to make remote working more convenient, secure and effective. The Zetadocs document and expense management system is one such system, working with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and NAV to deliver business processes wherever the employee in question happens to be.
There are many advantages to using a tailor-made system when working remotely. The features and tools provided by such a platform will have been developed with modern businesses in mind and then honed over many hours of practical hands-on experience to deliver exactly what is needed to facilitate efficient home and remote working.
One of the main plus points of a system like Zetadocs is that it takes full advantage of cloud storage to enable access to documents across members of a team or business who are working away from head office and each other.
The risk which, in the past, has discouraged some companies from embracing remote working as fully as they might is that a physically scattered team becomes disconnected through a breakdown in communications. Many businesses now have globally scattered teams of remote workers, which means that different time zones can hinder communication and collaboration tools such as video conferencing and phone calls.
In situations like this, or indeed any projects which require input from a variety of sources to be gathered and used centrally and cohesively, the value of having quick and easy access to documents on the cloud is undeniable. Some of the clearest advantages of working in this way include the following:
Control of Access
Controls can be set for individual projects, limiting the number and identity of workers who have access to documents stored on the cloud. At the same time as enhancing security and accountability, this makes accessing those documents extremely easy. When a single project includes multiple pieces of documentation, or a particular team is working on more than one project simultaneously, being able to set and control who has access to which documents will keep things running smoothly and enhance security.
One aspect of remote working which many people might find stressful is the risk of data being wiped, lost or corrupted. The chances of a remote worker having robust enough back-up systems in place to deal with a major loss of data are fairly slim, and putting such systems in place would be prohibitively expensive for any business. When data is stored on the cloud, however, back-up systems will automatically be in place. This should be true whether the cloud in question is public, private or a hybrid of the two, and the extent of back-up and disaster recovery in place can be established before the platform goes live and remote working begins in earnest.
With every team member being able to access, input and work with documents side by side in real-time means that cloud-based data sharing closes the physical distance between team members and makes genuine collaboration not just possible, but quick and easy. Sharing files in this way turns the platform being used into a virtual office space, in which colleagues can work as closely as if they were still seated side by side at their desks.
Strict Version Control
When files and documents are physically passed between colleagues, or even sent via email and messaging, it can be all too easy to lose track of the changes being made and which team member made them. Cloud-storage makes it simple to revert to previously saved versions of a document, and will automatically create a record of what changes were made, as well as when they were made and by whom.
While security concerns may, in the past, have discouraged some businesses from embracing the cloud fully, the truth of the matter is that a modern cloud platform will offer better security and stricter access controls than traditional, location-based IT systems. When multiple personnel are working across a range of locations, strict security is more important than ever, and cloud platforms are put together with this requirement in mind.
Working remotely is likely to be the reality for many people for some time to come. Even when the current emergency measures have been lifted, many businesses will likely opt to continue working in this way. Zetadocs offers the tools and resources needed to make this possible, performing the vital function of keeping disrupted businesses running until some normality resumes.
If you’d like to know more or have questions, please contact our team.