Jan 31 2020

How Small Businesses Can Utilize Collaboration Tech

With workers more dispersed than ever, staying connected is key to organizational success.

“The office” has become a fluid concept. No longer marked by mandated rows of cubicles and corner offices for those in charge, employees now work in environments as diverse as the work they do. Coffee shops, coworking spaces, and even homes have all been transformed into places of business as more employees telework.

The trend has been growing for some time. Research shows that remote work has grown 44 percent in the past five years, and a whopping 91 percent in the past 10 years. It’s grown so much that workers no longer consider it a perk, but rather a prerequisite. A study from IWG shows that 80 percent of potential employees would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible work.

Remote work has been made much easier by the advancement of collaboration tools. Mobile technology and real-time audio and video platforms have allowed employees to work in a team environment when they’re not even on the same continent, let alone in the same room. Startups and small businesses may stand to gain the most: As more employees work remotely, companies can save money by reducing office space.

Remote work also helps small and medium businesses with recruiting. Allowing employees to work remotely allows organizations to hire outside their geographic location, and the flexible environment is attractive to potential workers, particularly younger ones. Small businesses are catching on — research from Owl Labs found that SMBs are twice as likely to hire full-time remote workers as larger enterprises.

How Workspace as a Service Powers Remote Employees

With employees working in so many different places, organizations need to deploy digital workspace solutions to make sure everything runs smoothly. One tool is Workspace as a Service (WaaS), a cloud-powered, on-demand solution that brings work systems to different kinds of devices.

WaaS is often used interchangeably with Desktop as a Service, but there are key differences between the two. While both are cloud-based solutions that grant users access to work applications, DaaS is more like virtual desktop infrastructure in that it deploys a desktop operating system. With VDI, that deployment comes from a virtual data center, while DaaS is powered by a cloud service provider. While DaaS can provide the hosting for a remote desktop operating system, it doesn’t include features such as data storage, backup or application management.

That’s where WaaS comes in, supplying those tools in one place, by subscription. Small businesses can power their remote workers with everything they need without investing in the infrastructure or IT staff needed to manipulate a virtual desktop. WaaS can also be used across different types of mobile devices, which is a must in a growing BYOD world.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Read why BYOD makes endpoint security crucial for small businesses.

Make the Most of Collaboration Platforms

Employees need to be able to communicate effectively for businesses to be productive. Once organizations have the infrastructure in place, they need platforms that can connect their remote workers. Employees need to be able to have meetings, collaborate on documents and move projects forward — all in real time. 

There are individual systems and applications that allow users to host videoconferences, chat or work collectively on documents, but it’s simpler to have all of those capabilities in one place. Microsoft Teams integrates with Office 365, allowing users to collaborate using that suite of tools. IBM Collaboration Solutions platform takes organizations through waves of enhanced connectivity, from production and communication to data analytics and machine learning.

Still, each organization has its own needs. A company whose workers are remote, but all in the same country, won’t have the same requirements as one who’s employees span the globe. An organization that has most of its employees using desktops won’t have the same needs as one for which mobility is crucial. A hand-crafted service to fit specific requirements for business goals can be just the thing for a complex company looking to make the most of an extended workforce.

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