Four technology decisions you must make for your flexible workforce.

The global pandemic saw a rapid adoption of technology in businesses across Australia. Once relative normality eventually returns to our working lives, accountancy firms will continue to see the advantages of technological solutions for many systems and processes – especially when it comes to providing greater flexibility for staff.

Here are four technology areas where businesses need to maintain their focus:

Email v file transfers

Email has become the most popular method of communication for businesses around the world, and understandably so: an email is instantaneous, user-friendly and a permanent record of an exchange.

However, when it comes to attachments, email has several disadvantages. The first is that it may not reach the intended recipient. Whether it’s a spam filter, a server hiccup or a limit on incoming file sizes, the consequences of an important email getting lost in cyberspace can be serious.

Most email servers cannot support large files, and the reality is that the average size of transmitted files is only getting larger. Maintaining the necessary email infrastructure can also prove costly, and an unnecessary chunk of the IT budget. Furthermore, many email systems are not secure enough to provide robust confidentiality between the sender and recipient.

Communication tips

Communication has always been a vital component of a team’s success, but in the world of remote and flexible working, it has become even more imperative. A lack of communication can lead to a loss of motivation, as well as failing to meet client expectations.

Good communication will not simply happen as a matter of course among flexible work teams: systems and protocols need to be in place to facilitate it. Schedule set times for check-ins throughout the work, but also build in enough flexibility that employees feel comfortable checking in whenever they feel it necessary.

Communication applications such as Slack create a space for team members to flag issues outside of meetings or scheduled one-on-ones. That said, the steady stream of messages can also prove a distraction. Make sure team members feel free to enable the do-not-disturb function for periods of deep focus.

Mobile v video calls

When it comes to deciding whether to adopt mobile or video calls as your go-to form of verbal communication, remember that flexibility is key. While video calls provide much-needed aids in understanding body language and non-verbal communication, the phenomenon of Zoom fatigue is now well documented.

Unscheduled video calls can also be perceived as an invasion of privacy. However, most people agree that if a group video call is taking place, the video should be turned on unless the person needs to leave the room for a short period.

For external clients, a video call may be preferable to ensure that the relationship is given the attention and focus it requires. For quick catch-ups with colleagues, a phone call may work better. Discuss what works best with your team members.

Team collaboration

Collaboration between remote employees can throw up unique challenges for the uninitiated. Fortunately, the right tools can facilitate even real-time collaboration. Many organisations are turning to Google’s suite of remote collaboration tools, which include Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Hangouts.

Asana is also becoming increasingly popular to help employees stay on track and work as a team. It has a virtual to-do list that prompts individual team members when it’s their time to review a project, or to check in on progress throughout the day.

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