Managing information in the era of remote work


By Colin Dean, Major Accounts Director at M-Files, a global leader in information management

REPLACING an hour-long commute with a walk downstairs, ditching workwear for pajama bottoms, and spending lunch breaks out of an office chair and on the sofa– there’s no denying that there are some seriously handy perks to life as a remote worker.

Pre-pandemic, a truly flexible workplace seemed inconceivable to employees and business owners alike. Managerial skepticism of a worker’s ability to do his or her job unsupervised, coupled with a reliance on face-to-face interaction for training and meetings, left remote work a pipedream for the bulk of the workforce. However, necessitated by the Covid outbreak, many have realised that they can perform their jobs just as effectively from the comfort of their own homes.

Despite the easing of restrictions, statistics show that employees are unwilling to return to the office, with 45% of workers fully remote, compared to a meagre 26% in the office full-time. Additionally, recent research highlights the positive effect working from home is having on employee wellbeing, revealing that the ability to work remotely can boost employee happiness by as much as 20%.

With these figures in mind, it is unrealistic for employers to expect workers to head back to the office full-time, particularly when they have demonstrated they can productively work from home. Enforcing this would only reduce employee morale, leading to an overall slump in performance.

Implementing a flexible working culture does not come without challenges; organisations must be proactive and invest in infrastructure that meets the needs of all employees and provides clarity across the business.

A modern, innovative information management strategy holds the key to this, as easy and transparent access to documents is a simple way to ensure everyone has the tools to work together effectively. Companies must leverage the resources available, promoting the use of collaborative platforms to keep all colleagues connected and on the same page.

Overcoming barriers to collaboration
When an organisation’s workers are spread across countries, continents and time zones, objectives can only be achieved if collaboration is promoted and encouraged, regardless of geographical difficulties.

Colleagues have encountered a host of issues when making the switch to remote work, for instance difficulties accessing important documents (due to poor content management systems), misplaced files and data, and workers attaching outdated documents in a sea of emails.

Therefore, it is important that staff are equipped with tools to streamline collaborative processes. Such platforms have become more widespread since the pandemic began, for example nearly 80% of workers used a collaborative tool in 2021, an increase of more than 40% compared to the previous year. By utilising available resources, businesses can avoid confusion, aiding efforts to encourage teamwork.

Find your documents in seconds
If a company does not have a clear data management strategy, staff members will face headaches when trying to complete the simplest of tasks. When trapped in data silos or stuck on office hard drives, important information becomes inaccessible to remote employees, preventing them from completing necessary work.

Businesses must move on from outdated practices, embracing document management solutions that make data instantly accessible for all employees, whether remote or in-office. Doing so encourages the safe and secure sharing of information between colleagues, promoting productive collaboration.

Metadata-driven document management platforms centralise all documents so there is just one version, ensuring all team members are using the most up-to-date files.

Ensuring clients stay in the loop
The digitisation of modern working methods can be leveraged by businesses to personalise the experience of their clients. Well-ordered document management systems mean that files can be sent to clients the moment they are requested, improving the speed of service offered.

Information management solutions that enforce information control can also improve transparency and customer experience, as files can be made available internally and externally, with specified parties able to gain access. Document permission controls aid in securing sensitive information and reducing business risk. Clients are able to both see work in progress, and also have access to the latest files they may need in real-time, which heightens customer satisfaction.  

Ultimately, the pandemic has forced us to adapt the way we work, as employers have been pressured to transition to hybrid work environments. The successful implementation of flexible working strategies is contingent on having the right infrastructure in place, with collaborative tools and document management solutions central to uniting your workforce– wherever they may be.

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