The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred digital transformation at an unprecedented scale – forcing companies and employees to embrace technologies and ways of working they may never have previously considered. In one McKinsey survey, a staggering 85% of participants reported that their businesses had accelerated the adoption of virtual technologies to aid remote collaboration and interaction.
As we enter the second year of the pandemic, it’s clear that many of these short-term adjustments will crystalize into long-term change. But beyond video conferencing apps and file sharing platforms, businesses will now have to fast-track the implementation of tech that promotes remote employee wellbeing, enables remote-first culture and brings visibility to the remote work experience. So what remote work tech can we expect companies to prioritize in 2021?
Productivity and collaboration tools
As many companies have quickly realized, remote work requires a very specific tech infrastructure. To keep remote working efficient, productive and enjoyable, companies will need to prioritize SaaS applications and technologies that support multi-cloud environments. It’s likely that there will also be far more value placed on software platforms that layer on intelligence and data to improve business outcomes and productivity. According to the 2021 Forrester Predictions, workforce analytics is one of the “fastest growing segments of the human capital management market”, and is growing at such a rate it will approach $1 billion by 2023. A few productivity and collaboration tools to watch in this space include:
Dewo: billed as your “Deep work assistant”, Dewo helps remote employees understand and measure their productivity, providing AI-fueled analysis and features to protect time for complex problem solving. Its primary focus lies with optimizing meeting times to protect more space for deep work, but it also analyzes context switching and distractions to help employees work smarter. Better yet, it intelligently learns when a a user enters a flow state to automatically toggle “Do Not Disturb” across their devices.
Lucidchart: Remote collaboration isn’t always easy, so organizations will be turning to tools like Lucidchart to make remote teamwork simpler and more effective. Easy to use and cloud-based, this diagram and data visualization solution enables organizations to scale remote teams, improve productivity, and optimize various workflows across sales, IT, product and engineering.
WalkMe: Fast-paced tech adoption can be hard to keep up, especially when you’re learning new software features and workflows in a vacuum. WalkMe was specifically designed to make systems adapt to the user, allowing remote workers to get the hang of new systems quickly and easily. It helps to improve employee training and productivity, and makes it easy to use any software, website, or app.
Glue: Landing in 2021 as a beta, this automatic knowledge hub is guaranteed to revolutionize remote collaboration. Leveraging AI, Glue promises to unify your team’s scattered work ecosystem – connecting project files and conversations, revealing relationships between work, and surfacing the most relevant information for any given moment. By reducing the time teams spend hunting for information, Glue hopes to remove the friction of virtual collaboration.
Compliance, visibility and management tools
Lack of visibility remains one of the biggest problems reported by remote workers. As such, organizations will be looking to invest in tech that can connect them with the individual remote work experience. Forerunners in this field include apps that keep remote employee overtime, work hours, vacation allowance and availability visible, including:
Timely: Most employees working remotely during the pandemic in 2020 overworked. Tools like Timely help to minimize this by tracking employee work hours automatically and updating their weekly capacity in real time. With an accurate record of all time spent on tasks, employees can also use Timely to create more realistic work schedules. Timely also enables managers to offer more proactive, targeted support by providing live records of each employee’s hours, workloads, activity and overtime.
BambooHR: Most remote workers have unlimited vacation but only end up claiming two or three weeks’ rest. Bamboo HR helps remote teams take the time off they’re entitled to. Employees can quickly check how much vacation time they have left, and how much they’ll accrue by a certain date. It also empowers employees to book time off themselves without running it by managers first, helping to build greater autonomy at work.
Peakon: Peakon aims to improve every stage of the remote employee experience – from initial onboarding to exit. It surveys employees, analyzes their responses and then gives employers the insights needed to make positive changes throughout the organization.
Freshteam: With access to a boundless talent pool, remote recruitment offers challenge as well as opportunity. Tools like Freshteam makes it easier to make intelligent hiring decisions. From one space, you can: find, interview, and hire the best candidates; connect and engage with new hires quickly and easily; and organize employee data and files securely.
2020 saw an evolution in corporate social responsibility, with more companies recognizing the need to prioritize employee wellbeing. Relationships between organizations and staff are becoming more human-centric, and moving forward we can expect employers to play a larger part in the health, security and happiness of their teams. To combat the social excesses of remote work – namely, isolation, disconnect, and poor work/life balance – employers will need to implement a robust remote working culture and embrace wellbeing tools like these:
Headspace: With fewer physical and mental boundaries between work and personal time, it’s vital for organizations to encourage their staff to find ways to relax and unwind. Using the Headspace meditation app doesn’t only reduce anxiety and the risk of burnout, it also helps people focus, fosters compassionate behavior, and encourages a more measured and receptive response to negative feedback.
Culture Amp: Employee recognition is a key component of workplace happiness, but the invisibility and distance of distributed working make it hard to approach. Apps like Culture Amp combine surveys and analytics to give employees a voice and provide organizations with a deeper understanding of their culture. Using these insights, organizations can promote employee wellbeing, take control of their own development, and stay connected.
Officevibe: Officevibe helps organizations understand employee sentiment and engagement and act intelligently upon feedback. Being able to give anonymous feedback means people are able to be honest about their experiences without worrying about ramifications, and discussing it helps companies create a culture of openness, which boosts engagement.
Keep your team ticking
Timely automatically tracks team hours, activity and capacity to keep remote work visible. Lead happier, healthier teams.