Working remotely with Google Apps

The world is now a global community. Boundaries hold less significance than ever to the modern businessman. As a result, managers are coming to realise the office no longer needs to constitute a physical space. Coupled with the understanding that being present in a workspace isn’t indicative of productivity, it’s clear the office of the 20th century is an out-dated concept. This is particularly true in the construction industry, where work often requires staff to travel outside of the office. By working remotely with Google Apps, it’s now possible for an office to work from around the world and still function as a cohesive team.

Just as effective communication no longer demands geographical proximity, accessibility is no longer defined by an adjacency to the office. Google Apps is facilitating the transition between the physical and the digital office. The host of apps is designed to enable communication and collaboration at every stage of the construction process.

The remote revolution is gaining traction amongst the more tech-savvy firms as employers begin to see the potential boost this technology can bring. Before we get too caught up in the excitement of our very own armchair office, however, it’s vital we consider the implications of this transition to the global construction industry now.

Productivity

Studies have found working remotely can dramatically increase productivity. Most homes now enjoy internet access, allowing employees to work on the same project from different locations, even different countries. Because the Google Cloud can share a single file with multiple employees, providing real-time feedback and creating documents to a strict deadline is possible even if no two colleagues are in the same room.

There is still debate as to whether employees working remotely with Google Apps encounter more distractions than in the office, with the multiple conveniences of the home competing against office chit chat and unnecessary meetings. Enabling your staff to work remotely, however, has been found to improve engagement, satisfaction, and productivity by as much as 36%.

A major pitfall for some employees working from home is the lack of regimented schedule, which can quickly lead to de-motivation and poor organisation. Workplaces have countered this with a remote-work schedule, whereby workers have to check in at set times to update on their progress. Working remotely with Google apps can further streamline the process, allowing instant updates to be sent to a selected admin at designated times. In this way, employees can enjoy the freedom of working from home while managers track their progress from another location.

Working remotely with Google Apps
With the right schedule, working at home can increase productivity and drive new ideas

Accountability

A significant barrier for employers allowing remote work is the lack of accountability. With employers unable to see their employees working, it can be difficult to verify that work is being completed efficiently and to the required specifications. Even with traditional software suites, verifying exactly when work has been completed, and by whom, can be difficult and time-consuming.

Google Apps logs what time an employee accesses a file and how long they’ve been working on it for. All edits to documents, spreadsheets and presentations are registered and logged, allowing selected Admin to review each individual’s input and attribute any changes to the correct employee.

Working from an external location can result in a more receptive and engaged workforce, but it can also encourage work out of hours. According to Inc Magazine, remote workers are almost twice as likely to work more than 40 hours a week.

Mobility

Travelling is an integral feature of the construction industry, but it places a strain on even the most motivated of employees. That’s why it’s essential staff can continue to operate whilst on the move, either between offices, projects or client meetings. Working remotely with Google Apps offers a range of solutions to keep you in constant contact on the road and at home.

Google Hangouts provides instant messaging and video conference calls. This guarantees streamlined communication between staff, whilst working remotely with Google Apps enables on-the-go collaboration no matter where you are in the world. As well as fuelling productivity, this ensures staff are available to provide input on new developments, whether from their own living room, a local cafe or a hotel on the other side of the world.
Working remotely with Google Apps
With mobile technology developing rapidly, industry professionals can work from anywhere in the world

Accessibility

Enabling employees to access information held on their work device can be time-consuming, inefficient and can even pose a security risk. Information shared via pen drives runs the risk of being lost, while emailing information back and forth increases security risks and adds time to every communication process. One of the biggest advantages afforded by using Google Apps is constant accessibility.

Because all data is stored on Google’s secure Cloud platform, employees can access their files from anywhere in the world providing they have a device and internet connection. Mobility, accessibility, and verifiable access make remote-working not only possible but simple, efficient and safe. This gives employees more time to focus on increasing the firm’s competitive advantage, exceed client expectations and further develop internal functionality.

Attracting the right staff

Working remotely with Google Apps also supports flexi-working for working parents and those who wish to travel outside congested peak commuting times. Incentives like these can help retain and attract highly skilled individuals to your business. In the UK, employees with children under six can now request remote working options from their employer.

Unfortunately, the promise of working a 9-5 job from home can attract the wrong kind of applicants. It’s vital potential employees understand remote working does not mean days spent flicking through the TV channels whilst idly typing up tenders. The onus is on employers to ensure schedules are adhered to, but Google for the construction industry can help. With a range of solutions to ensure employees can create an individual, albeit work-suitable, timetable, employers can easily keep track of schedules and monitor progress through the Apps Share and Edit features.

Working remotely with Google Apps
Remote-working hours can attract young, innovative talent wary of being tied to an office

Interaction

Inevitably, employees working from home find themselves engaging less in face-to-face business interactions. Working remotely can be an isolating task, and that’s why many choose to alternate between office days and working from home or on the go. This enables employees to maintain communication and share ideas even when they’re outside the office, facilitating the creative process at every stage.

Remote work doesn’t require an employee to work from home alone, however. Social spaces like cafes and libraries, providing they have Wifi, can allow a worker to engage with other people while continuing to work in a relaxed environment.

Technology support

Whilst remote-work does have a range of advantages, a lack of access to technology can complicate the process of working from home and hinder effective working practices. Without a dedicated tech expert on hand, any remote-IT issues could derail an entire working day or more, costing the business time and, ultimately, money. Thankfully, because all data created in Google Apps is stored in the Cloud and is autosaved with every new edit, information loss is minimised and can be accessed simply by finding another device with internet connection.
Working remotely with Google Apps
Working remotely can be a challenge for the less tech-savvy, but Google Apps enables access from multiple devices

Costs

The outgoing company costs are a major consideration to any construction firm. This includes hardware and workspace, both of which are impacted by the number of staff required in the office. By reducing the number of staff in the office and the hardware required to cater to these staff, construction firms can streamline entire processes. Using Google Apps has the added advantage of reducing the amount of duplicate copies of material, further consolidating data and reducing search times for specific documents.

Companies that have chosen to invest in cloud technologies have even witnessed business growth increasing up to 25%. In the modern construction firm, remote-work can free up time, money and resources to pursue new projects and enable current developments to be completed to the highest standard.

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