Technology and Balance

Men Working at Night

If you work 48 weeks in the year and spend a conservative five hours weekly commuting to and from work, you’re spending 240 hours per year driving. How can technology be leveraged to gain that time back?

Up until recent years, the only alternative for working was to physically go into an office to place in your 40-50 hours weekly behind a stuffy desk surrounded by people you may or may not enjoy working with. As technology has evolved, so has the flexibility of if you work at the workplace, at home, at the beach, or some other locale.

While technology does make it easier for employers to permit telecommuting, there’s still a trust factor that comes into play. There are ways each employer can quantify productivity otherwise, but some companies are simply more comfortable knowing for certain their employee is at their desk during a specified time every day. Another consideration for employers is the morale of employees that are not working from home while another is permitted that luxury. Should they have 1 happy employee and 10 disgruntled employees or 10 content workers and 1 disgruntled employee? Rather than examining the struggles for employers that are faced with this decision, lets examine the technology that allow working from home to be a fact a lot more often than it was 20-30 years back.

When an employer decides to allow telecommuting, there are lots of tools on the market which safeguard their investment.

· Worksnaps: This tool allows an employer to track how productive the work-at-home worker has been throughout the day. There are less comprehensive tools available but this one does not leave a good deal of room for a work around by the employee. Beyond monitoring the time spent in productive applications (Facebook not being one of these) the tool takes screenshots of the employee’s monitor throughout the day to make sure that the worker is productive while activity is showing on their computer. They will even count the number of mouse and keyboard clicks.

· Web: This is quite obvious but possibly the most important tool. The internet allows you to communicate with members of your staff, your company, and any external clients. A number of companies have online products they use for housing databases or other tools that are crucial to job duties of the workers.

It provides Microsoft based tools to individuals wherever they are in the world. Google docs can be obtained to share documents whether for informational purposes or for each member of a team to edit the document. If you don’t have Microsoft programs on your home computer, this is a great way to use them. They do not have the most current benefits of the current apps, but it will work in a pinch.

· Trello: This is a popular tool that allows for project management across your team no matter everybody’s location. This may be used for individuals to organize to-do lists or monitor jobs, Possum Removal Cost, so everyone knows where the team is at. The program lets you break the project into segments that can be more closely observed as the job progresses.

· Zoho: This is another project management tool, but it seems to have an abundance of features including overlapping features I have already discussed. There’s the ability to track time spent on jobs, offers charts and written documentation of the development of the specific projects the team is working on, a calendar that the whole team can contribute to and view, document sharing capabilities, notes area for documenting specific hurdles or bugs which need to be resolved. This is only the tip of the ice burg concerning the capabilities of this tool. The cost is relatively inexpensive as well ranging from $0 for restricted access to $100/month/employee for access.

· Yammer: This is called a Facebook for work. This platform allows a company to send only relevant information to workers. Then employees can communicate within their specific teams to achieve goals.

· Skype: This is a free service which allows face-to-face communication between employees. The tool is internet based and permits you to bring several people into the conversation/collaboration.

· GoTo Meeting: This is a great tool for webinars as it will allow you to broadcast to tens of thousands of people who join. Moreover, for the ones that cannot attend the meeting or want to observe the meeting for another time the meetings can be listed. You can share your screen with those that signed up for the meeting allowing for project collaboration or even coaching.

· Viewflux: There are plenty of websites geared towards designers, viewflux being one of them. These sites allow you to share your layouts with a group of people. Have you ever wanted someone to change something about a picture and you attempt to describe in several words what just a few words and an arrow could describe? These sites make a world of difference for designers and their customers and team members.

In accordance with Dropbox, this is a safe way to share files.

· Nimble: This is a great tool for sales people and individuals with large networks to stay organized. This tool combines your social media and email contacts into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. The application even links conversations you’ve had with these contacts, so you can remember the contact in that particular context.

These are simply a couple of the tools that people may use when they work from home or perhaps work in the office. The cooperation potential with the resources can simplify processes which are long overdue for change. With no connections, the telecommuter could quickly be disregarded as part of the dynamic of the section they once worked with in person.

While some could argue that society is more disconnected from one another than ever before, consider that technology is not a hindrance to our efforts to communicate but rather a benefit. I would assert that society is communicating better, more often, and more effectively than ever before because of technology.

Imagine being able to work from 7:00-4:00 and being able to start dinner at 4:05 instead of 5:05. Now you have time to patiently help the kids with their homework, readily pick up the kids from soccer practice, spend some time focusing on your partner. The pressure to get things done can diminish as the level of technology increases if we leverage the two. What will the ability to telecommute mean to your life? Do you do it now?

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