Small business remote working: what tools do your people really need?

For most small businesses, your strength is your team—and lately, that teamwork has been a lot more challenging. Chances are that your people are more spread out than they used to be; maybe you’ve already put some measures in place to help them work remotely. If so, you’re not alone: research shows the pandemic has increased remote working in US businesses by 87%.

But what about that buzz of collaboration—the part that makes your business a real team? That’s harder to replicate at a distance. If you adapted in a hurry to keep your business running, we salute you. That’s no small achievement.

But now is a good time to ask: with 41.8% of the American workforce still working remotely, will those stop-gap arrangements encourage the teamwork you need to thrive in the longer term? There are two key elements your people need to collaborate successfully: the right software to share their work, and the right connectivity to let them do it efficiently. Here’s how small businesses use technology in practice, and why great software and a great network are better together. Take a look at how you can get the tools you need paid for by T-Mobile for Business.

Work won’t go back to normal—so what do you do?

Perhaps it’s no surprise that so many experts say remote working looks set to stay.

Employees who previously had lengthy commutes—and have gotten used to spending that time more productively—could be understandably reluctant to start commuting into the office. Studies show workers’ confidence in their home-working productivity has increased the longer the pandemic has continued. And it’s not just at home; with mobile devices, they can be productive virtually anywhere.

Likewise, if your business used to call on customers in person), you might find that employees and customers alike, start to question how many of those visits are really needed now that people have experienced a virtual work environment (necessary, physical service calls, aside). You may already have started to recruit talent from farther afield. And if you haven’t yet considered whether savings in travel costs could give you an advantage in margin or price, you can bet your competitors have. Recognizing new processes you’ve adopted over the past year—and, making them policy for the long term—could feel a little strange. Most small businesses work as a close-knit team, and that buzz of co-operation is part of what makes them special. It’s only natural to miss it.

Man sitting at computer with headphones on while child holds panda bear on his neck behind him.
So, some questions to ask yourself about keeping the good parts of remote work long term:

Are all the benefits like convenience, mobility, time, and cost savings sustainable? 

Will you still be able to tap into a great talent pool if most of your business is done remotely, virtually? 

Can your business and teammates experience the agility and collaboration you got before things went virtual?

How can you do all these things without sacrificing your small-business superpower?
Unlocking teamwork at a distance: 3 technologies you need.

Choosing the right technology plays a central role. Certain aspects will depend on the sector you work in, but there are some key tools you’ll need if you’re to avoid frustrating your people, underserving your customers, and handing your competitors an advantage.

In particular, three kinds of software are important:

  • Reliable online meeting software is essential so your team can still talk face to face. A chat channel is useful too, to keep informal, impromptu communication going. And, if you’re already using Outlook for your email and calendar, Microsoft Teams fits beautifully and means people can collaborate and share with less hassle. We’re not surprised it’s the fastest-growing app in Microsoft’s history.
  • Cloud-based file sharing lets your people share documents easily, without creating duplicate versions or using up storage space on their devices. It gives them constant access to the most up-to-date information, on any device, anywhere. Microsoft OneDrive is a great option—and Microsoft 365 includes at least 1TB of OneDrive storage per user.

For instance, Kansas-based small business Miller Tool uses OneDrive to let technicians share diagnostic photos from their mobile phones, jot notes, and compile information to give customers a faster, more accurate response.

Microsoft 365 and especially OneDrive have really come in handy. Everybody can see what’s going on, make decisions, and move quickly to deliver on a customer’s project.

Steve Miller, Owner, Miller Tool
  • Security and compliance tools are easy to overlook because you hope you’ll never use them, but they’re important. You need to be certain your data is secure. So, even when your people are remote and a device were to be reported lost or stolen, you can rest assured their data is secure, even from afar. Microsoft 365 comes with Exchange Online Protection to protect their email, and a whole host of security and privacy measures built in.

Another feature of remote working is your people might be using more than one device to get the job done. Maybe they keep their desktop screen focused on a document while using a tablet to keep track of the office chat. Or perhaps—like Miller Tool’s sales and service personnel—they need to share notes and images from their phone.

That means you can’t just provide tools for laptop or desktop computers; you need to give access to all your colleagues’ mobile devices, too. And the beauty of a cloud-based offer like Microsoft 365 is that it does exactly that. 

While software is important, connectivity is essential.

Those software tools are incredibly useful—but only if they have fast, reliable access to the internet. These past few months, we’ve all experienced the frustration of a bad connection on a video call. And you can’t share information and images, or collaborate on documents in real time, if they take forever to upload.

So, your people need one more thing: a great network connection. And (yes, you guessed it) this is the part where we remind you that T-Mobile has built a better network for business, empowering you with:

  • America’s largest and fastest 5G network so your people can collaborate, connect, and share in real time, and stay mobile without worrying about their connection.
  • Amazing customer support for you and your team, so there’s no disruption to your work before, during, or after your switch.
  • Plans designed to save your businesses money based on the way small businesses work, with lots of premium benefits to take your business further—like mobile hotspots, and global roaming when we can do that again. And by the way, we won’t charge you extra for 5G.

 

Let’s make this easy.

For a limited time, T-Mobile small business plans get Microsoft 365 on us.

Especially if your people need tools to work well remotely, T-Mobile and Microsoft 365 can make it easier for you.

That means it’s easy and cost-effective to give your people everything they need to do great work, everywhere, all in one go. All the tools they need to collaborate securely—plus the Microsoft Office apps they already know—and the fast, reliable connection they need to make teamwork feel natural again.

It’s all part of our plan to help your business adapt and succeed—but we can only offer it for a limited time. So, to get the value for your small business, find your local store and schedule an appointment to talk with a Mobile Expert.

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