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Enabling remote work is easier than ever (and good for your business)

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Please see our Work from Home guide for you to share with your teams. We hope you find this useful.

Does your business empower employees to "work from home" yet or is there still a stigma attached to that phrase? It was less than ten years ago that company employees working remotely required virtual private network (VPN) software installed on their devices and the company to buy all the expensive secure server infrastructure required to maintain that VPN. Home internet access was good, but never as fast as the company's internet. Mobile internet for phones could be spotty. It was generally accepted by most bosses that employees "working from home" were subject to the 80/20 rule: There was an 80% chance the employee was doing something else and only spending 20% of their time outside the office on actual work.

But the cloud, near-ubiquitous mobile internet, and the rise of coworking spaces have changed the game. It's never been easier to empower remote employees to collaborate and be just as productive (in some cases, more productive) than typical office workers. Yet many businesses are asking the obvious question: Where should we start to make remote work a reality?

Amaxra consultants have deployed the technologies to enable employees to work remotely. Here are our three keys to enabling your remote employees to get things done anywhere they are and on any device they choose:

1. Standardize your business on cloud software

No matter what industry vertical your business competes in, many businesses are migrating their corporate IT into the cloud. And a good case can be made for businesses that choose Microsoft 365 cloud software are truly standardizing on an end-to-end business software solution. A subscription to Microsoft 365 is a cloud-powered combination of all the industry-standard Office 365 productivity apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, a constantly-updated Windows 10 operating system for every PC, and built-in cyber-security and data privacy services covering all of it.

Microsoft 365 is nothing less than a universal toolkit for employees who work remotely. No matter if your employees are achieving their business goals at their home office, in the airport between flights, or in a coffee shop, Microsoft 365 apps and documents are all connected via the secure Microsoft Cloud. If an employee updated documents on their local device, the cloud automatically synchronizes that document with their cloud-based counterparts so everyone in your organization is always on the latest version. Your employees can even pick up where they left off on a document when switching between devices such as a laptop, phone, and tablet.

Amaxra finds that employees working on a Microsoft 365 solution from a home office can improve a company's environmental impact by:

  • Reducing overall energy usage – Multiple studies have proven that onsite workers use twice as much electricity as home-based employees. Encouraging remote work with Microsoft 365 often translates to a smaller number on your office electricity bill
  • Reducing solid waste – People use far more paper in the office than at home where the remote employee. This is because that home-based remote employee becomes aware of how much each page coming out of the printer is costing them personally
  • Reducing greenhouse gasses – In large and expensive urban areas such as Boston and San Francisco, commuters spend close to an hour in the car every day. Every mile an employee does not have to drive in traffic improves a company's environmental impact. This is important for businesses wanting to attract and retain Millennials (the largest age cohort in today's workforce) for whom climate change is often very real

2. Collaborate with co-workers securely using Microsoft Teams

A recent Gallup poll found that while remote employees are generally more productive and engaged in their work, they can sometimes feel disconnected from their co-workers. That's why it's crucial for businesses enabling employees to work remote to have secure, real-time communication and collaboration methods. Microsoft 365 has a built-in solution for this with Microsoft Teams, a centralized cloud-based app that acts as a hub for all of the information, documents, and communication your remote employees need to stay productive.

Amaxra was an early adopter of Microsoft Teams, deploying internally in our organization soon after it was announced to the public in 2017. Microsoft Teams works on any device using either the official app for PCs and mobile devices (it works very well on both iPhone and Android) or in any web browser. We use Teams in our organization on a daily basis for secure file transfer and real-time collaboration via online whiteboards. An add-on to Teams enables voice and video calls that integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook email and Teams chats so that everything all in one place for your employees while keeping your communications and data secure and private.

3. Determine if your business needs formal office space

Thanks to Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams, Amaxra employees are comfortable with remote work and are very mobile. So mobile that barely anybody comes to suburban Seattle office now. A few of our employees are truly remote in that they are located in other states and have never been to our office. Due to the high cost of office space and our growing remote workforce, Amaxra is considering the idea of not having a "formal" office and switching to using coworking spaces instead—especially now that coworking spaces are becoming the new normal.

While some businesses such as large-scale manufacturing and healthcare providers still need permanent office space for the foreseeable future, for certain businesses remote working could be the default. When remote employees need a place to meet, a coworking space that rents offices on demand is a good option. These temporary coworking spaces fill the need for remote workers who want to meet clients or peers on an ad hoc basis while eliminating the expense of a leasing real estate for a permanent office space; real estate that is becoming prohibitively expensive for businesses in large urban areas (which is related to the environmental impact of long commutes in those areas). The tipping point for if your company should ditch the formal office for a coworking space goes back to the 80/20 rule: When your investment in Microsoft 365 and collaboration with Microsoft Teams is so good that "80% of our workforce is remote employees and only 20% of employees are ever in the office," then you should look into leasing coworking space instead.

Amaxra can help enable remote work for your business

We are a Microsoft Gold-level Partner with consultants who have real-world experience deploying cloud-based solutions to enable secure, remote working for global organizations. Amaxra can help your business to unlock the full potential of a mobile first workforce with Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure cloud services to enable remote work.

Contact me at Rosalyn.arntzen@amaxra.com or call 425 749 7471 if you have any questions or comments on this blog.

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