The rise of remote working
The growth of the internet, high-speed connections and affordable home computing have in the past decades created a perfect storm in which remote working from home or elsewhere has been able to thrive. According to 2017 data from a survey by PowWowNow, 58% of workers in the UK are offered flexible working arrangements, while 67% wish that they were offered it.
The reasons for office staff desiring flexible working and remote jobs are fairly obvious. The same survey found that 45% spent over an hour commuting each day, while 56% of these reported feeling regularly stressed or flustered about commuting. 53% meanwhile felt that they would be more productive if they could work elsewhere other than the office.
With this clear desire for remote working and the benefits it brings, not least in terms of morale, what is preventing more employers from offering work from home and other forms of flexible working? And why do 24% of those who are offered it not make use of working from home?
Common fears of agile working environments
For some companies and employees, there remains an underlying fear that productivity at work will suffer as a result of home working. This is in part due to a belief that collaboration between employees will be less efficient and more difficult (which is in fact far from the case, as we’ll discuss below). Some similarly worry that they will not be able to access the files that they need to get their work done, or that they will suffer compatibility issues between software on their work computer and their home computer or laptop.
These are real fears, and they can sometimes ring true to some extent until remedial action is taken. But as we will see there are a variety of digital solutions to these barriers which will not only allay these fears but also help build a profound confidence in the remote working environment.
Reconnecting the workplace
One of the biggest digital leaps forward in recent times has been cloud computing, whereby files and even software can be accessed by multiple users remotely via the internet. Popular examples of this are cloud-based storage systems such as Dropbox and Google Drive, whereby authorised users can be provided with secure access to all of the files they need, wherever they are.
A longer-established solution for remote collaboration between multiple users in different locations and with different computer systems is the PDF file format. The format is itself designed to preserve the formatting and visual content of documentation across multiple operating systems, so is perfect for ensuring smooth collaboration between remote workers.
But in addition to this, by using powerful PDF software such as Power PDF, all of those with access rights to the document will be able to edit it and annotate it as required. Power PDF also features optical character recognition (OCR) technology which can be used to scan in paper documents as editable text, rather than as a flat image. This means that staff in the office can scan in a batch of documents that require processing or attention, and these can then be emailed to remote workers (or accessed via cloud-based storage solutions) who will then be able to review, search by word and edit the document as needed.
Because information security is also of the utmost importance in the digital age, Power PDF allows each document to be password-protected to prevent access by unauthorised parties, while a digital signature can be applied to ensure that they are not modified after sign-off.
When combined with versatile cloud-based project management and collaboration software such as Trello or Wrike, Power PDF can actually enable you to streamline your processes, while also making it possible for greater numbers of personnel to work and collaborate together remotely. Communication software such as Skype which allow instant video calling, screen sharing and even remote access of colleagues’ computer meanwhile add a further raft of tools to help make working from home even more convenient than actually being in the office.