Working from home has multiple advantages — more family time, no commute, higher productivity, as Forbes points out in a recent article. With the benefits apparent, many companies are increasing the number of remote workers they employ. If you are the owner of a company, though, you may be wondering how you can take advantage of these benefits and still manage your business.
Effective management requires collaboration and communication, something current technology makes easy from wherever you are. You need to be able to communicate reliably with your employees, transfer information with ease and do it all securely. Fortunately, you can accomplish most of this for little to no money with these three solutions for remote business management.
Google Plus is known for being second place in the social networking world, but it also offers powerful tools for business collaboration and management. You want to have ongoing access to your employees, and you need to be able to collaborate with different people in your business without a lot of hassle. Google Plus allows you to do this in several ways. Creating a Google Plus account, and having all of your employees do the same, gives you access to all the tools Google offers. Google Docs allows you to share documents between your employees, while Hangouts allows you to instantly create conference calls between members. Google is also adding new features regularly, so the benefits of using the service will only increase. Setting up an account is free and straightforward. You can also set your company accounts into a single group, which Google calls a circle, and make everything exchanged between these accounts private.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may be dealing with large files you need access to at all times. Cloud-based storage is available from multiple companies now, including Dropbox and Google Drive. Both start off free — Dropbox gives you 2 GB of storage while Drive offers 5 GB. If you need more, Dropbox offers 100 GB for $9.99 a month, and Google offers 100 GB for $4.99 a month. Google is the winner on price, but Business Insider suggests that Dropbox actually offers more flexibility for your files. Google Drive will only let you open up your files in Google Docs, forcing you to export to access the file in Microsoft Word or another program. Dropbox does not suffer from such limitations.
Virtual Private Network
Depending on what security software you have in place, you may already know about ‘Virtual Private Networks’ (VPNs). According to BlackBerry, its mdm software can be programmed to only allow corporate devices Web access over secure connections. If this is the case, you may already be well versed in VPNs, as your company device will not connect remotely without one. Many mobile users, however, are not familiar with VPNs, or how they help with security. A VPN will keep your communications private when conducting business over public Wi-Fi networks and hot spots. You can work in coffee shops and libraries without worrying about security. It is possible to setup your own VPN, but PC Magazine suggests using a third-party solution if you want to avoid the hassle. Hotspot shield is a favorite of PC Magazine, and offers a free service with ads or a paid service without ads at $29.95 a year. Download and install the software, and rest easy knowing your wireless communications are secured.