Working remotely or from home is a prominent workplace trend affecting 68% of Australians, as a result of our shared global situation. Before the pandemic, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that 4.8 million Australians worked regularly from home for their job. Fast forward a few months (and a few loaves of sourdough) and this figure is now closer to a staggering 10.5 million. To put it simply, there are a lot of virtual meetings scheduled in a lot of calendar apps across Australia. This shift in workplace norms has been a welcome change for many businesses, who are enjoying the benefits that a remote work model has to offer. With our research showing that 84% of Australians enjoy working from home and 92% would opt to do so regularly if given the opportunity, we can safely predict that the remote work trend is here to stay. In fact, the amount of Australians working remotely will likely continue to rise as businesses adapt to what was initially a quick fix solution, and implement longer term policies for remote work. To support this change, organisations across many industries are paying more attention to remote working software and technology than ever before. But with so many tools, technologies and solutions on the market to assist with the transition to remote work, which is the best for your business? We’ve outlined some of the most effective, affordable and easy to use remote working software to make managing people, productivity and communication the very least of your worries, now and into the future.
Remote working software for people management
With your people out of the office and working from just about anywhere, there has never been a more important time to ensure your human resource (or HR) function is performing at its best. Utilising HR software that can help you with everything from onboarding, wellbeing and training, to automated pay runs, leave management, employee engagement, payroll and reporting and rostering is beneficial to any business, particularly those with remote workers.
HR Software for Remote Workers
Choosing the right HR software for your business is a big decision, so we’ve outlined a few features you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
- Compliance Support. Keeping up with regulatory compliance can be time consuming at the best of times. Add to this the logistical complexity of remote employees, and you’ve got yourself a headache. Ideally your HR software will include compliance support to eliminate risks and give you confidence that your business’s legal obligations are up to scratch. This might include employment contract templates, rules-driven processes, policy templates and a HR knowledge base specific to Australian legislation.
- Paperless Onboarding Tools. The onboarding process is fundamental in allowing your new team members to become quickly integrated into the business and ultimately get started as a productive worker sooner. You can’t give your remote workers a personalised tour of the office, but you can provide them with a seamless introduction to their new role. Look for paperless onboarding tools such as electronic signatures so job offers can be accepted online, automated inductions and new starter checklists.
- Employee Self Service. Transparency and flexibility are paramount when your team works remotely. Look for a software that allows individual employees to manage their own routine HR tasks. Rather than rely on you or an administrator, your employees should be able to access and update all of their essential information and history. Industry leading remote working SaaS will also look at motivating employees via self-service portals with features like a dashboard of positive feedback from leaders.
- Payroll, Time and Attendance Management. Eradicate your admin with online timesheets that empower your employees to track time worked, and you to approve those work hours, anywhere, anytime. Ideally, your HRIS will have Australia’s modern awards built in, so you can select what’s appropriate to your business. Not only can this make managing multiple shift patterns across different time zones and calculating wages a snap, but it will help you stay compliant. Look for additional features like dynamic rostering, attendance and time tracking, and employee monitoring, so you know where your remote employees are in real time, despite being in separate locations.
- Learning, Development & Performance Tools. A common concern for employers of remote workers is how to keep them engaged, and performing at their best without face-to-face interaction. A good remote working software will support team management, by allowing you to set goals and benchmarks, then keep track of performance with features like automated review workflows and digitised rating scales. Outside of individual goals, setting team ambitions your employees can strive for together also help remote workers feel part of a collective. Next, provide your remote workers with the same learning and development tools as those in the office. Remote work tools that prioritise regular training keeps employees on the ball and feeling empowered.
- Employee Wellbeing. This one is essential. 74% of employees want to see their employers care about their mental and physical wellbeing. WorkSafe Australia agree; recommending that all businesses provide their staff with ongoing access to an employee assistance program. Having a function that gives your remote workers a range of wellness resources and a dedicated Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Video calls with the team certainly boost morale, but access to services like confidential sessions with a qualified psychologist 24/7 can really help your business stand out. Make sure to take care of your employees, so that they can take care of your business.
- Employee Perks & Benefits. Giving back to your employees with perks is a great way to build a feeling of trust and make your remote workers feel like valued team members. Rewarding hard work is also a sure-fire way to make your employees feel motivated and committed towards optimising their productivity.Think discounts on things like groceries, gym memberships, health insurance and home loans; wellness education, advice and tools; or even an online savings tracker that supports your people to reach their savings goals faster. It’s all about providing your remote team with the resources they need to achieve a true work life balance.
Building a business case for your new HRIS (remote) software
If the final decision on whether to go-ahead with a new investment isn’t solely yours to make, it can sometimes be hard to get other people on board. The two biggest challenges that most businesses need to surmount when financing a new venture like remote work software are budget and management buy-in. Whether you’re a manager or team leader with directors to report to, or a business owner with board members to consult, it’s always valuable to have a business case in place for your new HR software. One place to start this process is by getting all of the stakeholders in a room to talk about the pain points you face in your business. Are they certain that the business is compliant? If the HR manager was off sick, would they still be able to lodge a tax declaration form and have a new starter get paid? Do your team have all of the tools and resources they need to perform to the best of their abilities? Questions like these are great first steps in getting other managers on board with your proposal. Once the conversation is initiated and new software is on the table as a solution, try to focus on the benefits of the platform rather than its features. In isolation, we know that the features sound great, but if you are able to talk about the many problems that this software will solve, and what you will do with the additional hours saved as a result of using the platform, you’re more likely to get others interested. If you are looking to roll out new HR software for remote employees, a great final piece to the puzzle is to showcase the return on investment with our handy ROI calculator. Calculating exactly how much time you’re spending on tasks that could be automated can be really impactful to decision makers as you’re showing them long-term value and savings.
Remote working software for team and task management
Openness and transparency are fundamental ingredients of the remote working pie. Whilst there are many mutual benefits to a remote work model enjoyed by both employers and their workers, we know that managers still have difficulty trusting their teams to work productively from the comfort of home. This uncertainty can lead to tight micromanagement regimes that leave both parties feeling dissatisfied. The solution to uncertainty is simple, and requires each party to be as open and transparent as possible. Thankfully, the digital age has equipped us with an abundance of software options that make team collaboration, project visibility and time management simple. Here are a few platforms that keep our teams on their a-game in remaining productive whilst working from home:
Have dozens of things on your to-do list? Asana is a task and project management software that can help you manage endless goals and priorities. Create collaborative projects with other remote team members, assign responsibilities and get notifications in real time when a teammate completes a milestone. Set timeframes and deadlines for easy time tracking and have transparency across your projects so that you can see what everyone has planned for their workday, and for their week ahead. Asana is an all-in-one project management tool that really does make people work better. With basic (but effective) packages for free, and 30 day free trials on premium packages, creating your new Asana account is one ‘to-do’ that should definitely be bumped to the top of your list.
If you’re new to remote working, the chances are that you might be new to G Suite, or at least to some of the functions within its vast assortment of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools. G Suite allows you to collaborate on files with other remote team members in real time, and benefit from protected file sharing and cloud storage for your documents. Employee communication is also streamlined. With access to everybody’s calendar, you can take staff meetings from anywhere and keep your remote team connected with premium video conferencing, all from one place. G Suite’s cloud storage app and communication tools are built on Google’s secure global infrastructure, so you can rest assured that important business information is kept safe and private. With affordable monthly pricing plans and a free 14 day trial, you can easily assess if G Suite is the right suite for you.
Whether the tasks you have to complete are large and intimidating or small and satisfying, we all know that sometimes, a couple could slip through the cracks. Tasks is Employment Hero’s built in digital work management tool that helps your remote team to keep track of their responsibilities. Give your employees the resources they need to manage their workflows, take accountability for their projects and deliver their work on time.
Trello is a collaborative task management software that manages the day-to-day activities and action items of your teams. A Trello board can be individual or collaborative and is a great way to communicate with your team internally, or even external departments and suppliers who you engage for regular work. It’s a highly visual platform and a favourite team collaboration tool of ours that allows for easy prioritisation of tasks and effective time tracking. For the ultimate Trello task management experience, try the 14 day free trial of their ‘Business Class’ package.
Monday is an all in one project management and workflow platform. It’s a virtual work hub that allows for visibility and time tracking across your entire team. Whether you’ve got marketing, engineering, sales, designer or developer teams, Monday can help organise your employees every day with transparency. Monday integrates its project management tools with all of your favourite apps such as Slack, ZenDesk, Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar, and their budget friendly packages start from just $11 per month.
Remote working software for effective team communication
Our research found that the thing workers miss the most about the workplace is the social aspect. They miss easily bouncing ideas off coworkers (63%), the camaraderie and friendship of colleagues (50%), ease of communication with a team leader or manager (36%) and the general energy of the workplace (34%). Thankfully, video calling, instant messaging and screen sharing made possible with a multitude of communication platforms is a great way to remedy these common remote work problems. As an employer, it’s up to you to make sure that your team members have access to the resources they need to remain connected. And after all, being open and transparent begins with strong communication from all parties. Inevitably, the popularity of virtual communication platforms has surged over the past few months, and with so many of them on hand, it’s hard to know which one is right for your business. Here are a few that we have found to be especially helpful in keeping up conversation and company culture within our remote teams.
We know that there are plenty of chat tools available to facilitate working remotely, however this one in particular is simple and effective. Keep your team accountable for their work arrangements and ensure no one misses an update in the business. With Slack, you can create chat rooms organised by topic and private groups for direct messaging as a quick and immediate alternative to email. With inbuilt video conferencing capability for hosting online meetings, updating and time tracking on group projects has never been easier. Slack is a valuable communication platform where people get work done, together.
If you’re an Outlook user, Microsoft Teams is the corporate chat app for you. Connect Teams to your email account for consolidated communication and never miss an update from your remote colleagues. With integrations to Microsoft 365 online apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, Teams allows for real-time collaboration on your projects and easy file sharing with co-workers. With chat functionality that can be organised by topic and reliable video conferencing for meetings, Teams makes communicating at work simple.
Part of G Suite, Google’s business productivity bundle, Google Hangouts is a cloud based cross platform messaging app that allows for easy internal and external communication. Apart from using Hangouts to communicate with members of your team, businesses can also use this platform to deliver free webinars and effective video marketing. Give presentations, demonstrate new products and hold client consultations with easy screen sharing of imagery and videos. Hangouts is a functional tool that is designed to set remote teams up for success.
Communication goes further than just spoken words and often requires tone and body language, signals that emails and phone calls just can’t convey. This is why platforms like Zoom are so important. Zoom is a remote video call service that aims to make communication easy, from any location. Presentations, webinars, company forums, virtual tours and collaborative projects are made possible with functional tools like the waiting room and screen share. With different plans available and the most basic options for free, Zoom is a great way to connect distributed teams and make remote work work for your business.
Remote working software for safe and secure file storage
If you want your remote workforce to operate successfully, having a stable and secure location to share files is paramount. Luckily, cloud-based technology allows for data to be created, shared and stored across multiple devices, meaning physical distance is irrelevant when it comes to the productivity of your distributed team.
Google drive is a cloud based storage solution that can help you and your team collaborate on projects and manage content simultaneously. If a file is adjusted, it is immediately synchronised to reflect any changes whilst you track, accept and reject updates, adding feedback and comments for your colleagues along the way. With control over who can view and edit documents and assurance that your hard work can never be lost, Google Drive is a great way for your teams to work together and complete their tasks with ease.
Are you faced with multiple logins for each and every service used by the company, and is somebody always in that (probably out of date) password spreadsheet? When working remotely, it’s essential that your employees have easy access to the tools they need to complete their jobs quickly and efficiently. LastPass is a password management software that stores encrypted passwords online, so that every member of your remote team can access the information they need, whenever they need it.
Give your remote teams all the necessary tools for success
Whilst there are undoubtedly many great software’s available to assist your teams in performing in their roles, it’s important to remember that as an employer, it doesn’t just stop there. A holistic approach should be adopted to ensure that your remote workforce have all the right tools for success. From developing a clear internal communication strategy to guarantee structure and consistency for your team, to working out the best ways to remain productive whilst working from home, it’s up to you as an employer to ensure your team are cared for from the ground up. Remote working software is a solution for your business that goes hand in hand with another – supporting your employees to be engaged, connected and productive whilst working together to achieve your unique organisational goals.