By DeVry University
As current events impact the business landscape, many companies continue to see their employees thriving in remote work environments. Even just a few months ago, bustling office buildings, long commutes and in-person meetings were the norm – but will 2020 set a new standard for how we work?
Recent studies show that companies are taking a strategic look at how remote work options can positively impact their bottom line. For instance, businesses can save an average of $10,000 per remote worker, reports Entrepreneur. In addition, according to Gallup, 54% of workers say that flexible work time is an important factor that would drive them to leave one job for another. Further, remote workers tend to feel more engaged and satisfied in their jobs.
When employees work from home, several business costs tend to decrease because:
- Less people are calling in sick.
- Workers are more productive.
- Retaining employees means fewer turnover costs.
- There are lower overhead costs at office locations (lower utility costs, less square footage needed, etc.).
The benefits of remote work for both companies and employees are clear. When these factors come together, many signs point towards a more flexible future.
As you continue to navigate the online business world, here are a handful of top online meeting tools, free video conferencing apps and virtual team-building activities to help you create an effective and collaborative work environment.
Online Meeting Tools
Online meeting tools allow employees to collaborate, share screens, take notes, host webinars, and connect with large groups at one time. While some online meeting tools are free, many of the more robust software platforms do have costs associated with them. However, most offer free trial periods.
Some of the most popular online meeting tools include:
Free Video Conferencing Apps
Many people are using the same technologies to stay connected to family and friends as they're using to connect for work purposes. As a result, companies that offer free video conferencing are seeing enormous jumps in users this year; CNBC reports that the monthly active user base of one such technology, Zoom, is up 21% compared to the end of 2019. Though popular before 2020, this technology is now being used for everything from elementary school classes to international business conferences and weddings.
Below, find a list of other free video conferencing apps people are using to stay in touch at work and with family:
Some of these applications are completely free, while others offer a specific call length for free users (for instance, Zoom limits calls to 40 minutes for free users; UberConference gives users 45 minutes).
Virtual Team-Building Activities
Beyond work meetings, video conferencing tools can be used to maintain social connections between employees and even improve company culture. Virtual team-building activities help coworkers stay engaged and connected, creating the type of collaborative feel that's typical of in-office environments. Some examples of these virtual activities include:
- Ice breaker Q&A sessions over video.
- Virtual lunch hours over video.
- Group chats via Slack or other collaborative tools.
- “Learning circles” or “lunch and learns” over video.
- Regular check-ins via chat or video.
- Collaborative music playlists using Spotify or other music streaming services.
Remote Work and Your Future
Remote work offers employees a number of unique opportunities in addition to the prospect of a more engaging and satisfactory work experience. Working from home naturally cuts commute times and allows you to be more present at home. This means you may have more time to devote to family obligations, or you may decide to take some of that saved time to commit to a personal or academic goal.
Whether you wish you had more time to spend with family, to get fit or to advance your education (or all three) working remotely may just be the trend that helps you get there.