Seeking a greater work-life balance, millions of people work remotely, or telecommute daily. With the wide availability of technology that allows people to be productive at home or on the road that number is expected to grow. According to Forrester, more than 34 million Americans work at home at least occasionally. By 2016, that number is expected to hit 63 million, when it will comprise of 43 percent of the labor force.
With the possibility of inclement weather in many parts of the country, the number of people working remotely is likely to rise during the winter months. Virtual Private Networks (VPN) have long been relied upon by remote workers, but products like Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client are now giving employees more flexibility, providing access to company files from tablets and smartphones like the DROID RAZR M by Motorola.
Working from home can lead to dozens of email chains, but cloud-based project and task management tools like Asana and Basecamp can increase collaboration while decreasing mailbox clutter. Teams can use Web-based group chat rooms, like Campfire, to keep remote workers in the loop all day. It provides a permanent chat room URL, allowing any member to chat, catch up on missed conversations and search past transcripts, all of which are logged for future reference.
Despite all of these tools to foster remote communication and collaboration, sometimes a face-to face meeting is still the preferred option. Video conferencing helps remote workers feel more connected and is now no longer limited to computers. Programs like Skype and ooVoo, which allows up to 12 people to video chat at once for free, combined with 4G LTE-enabled devices, allow telecommuters to stay in touch while on the go.
New technology is changing the way telecommuters work, making remote workers feel more connected.