Out of all of the major changes to the way we do business that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, remote work isn't necessarily one of them.
According to a study conducted in 2019, about 99% of respondents said that they would gladly work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers. Not only that, but about 40% said that they valued the flexible schedule that remote work brought with it, and an additional 30% said that they loved the opportunity to work from any location as the situation called for it. Based on that, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the popularity of remote work absolutely exploded over the last decade — a trend that had already showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
So if remote work was already the future of business, COVID-19 was little more than an accelerant — allowing the future to "arrive" just a bit faster than most people thought it would.
But while remote work certainly brings with it a fair share of advantages for businesses and their employees alike, it also comes with certain challenges — and consistency is perhaps the biggest of them all.
The "Problem" With Working Remotely
Obviously, one of the biggest immediate challenges that most businesses have faced while working remotely is that communication got harder, not easier — at least in the short-term.
Gone are the days when important information could be exchanged by way of discussions, meetings and quick office drop-ins. It's not possible to catch up on the status of that big project with a quick meeting after lunch. Now, even the most basic communication usually requires multiple phone calls and an endless string of emails.
The issue is that emails can quickly get lost (or chains can become unwieldy) and phone calls can be missed when everyone is "enjoying the flexibility to work on their own schedules." Not only has this made communication and productivity more difficult, but it's also shattered consistency as well.
Another major issue that the remote era has brought with it is that suddenly most businesses are working with far more data silos than ever before. When everyone had access to the same tools in the office, you could reasonably make sure that everyone was storing information in the same places and in the same ways. This is hard when everyone is working from home and you now suddenly have personal hard drives, cloud storage services and other repositories to deal with.
This makes it difficult to find key information and even harder to make sure that it gets into the hands of the people who need it — again harming consistency during a time when it is desperately needed.
The Solution: Document Management
Thankfully, all hope is not lost. True document management solutions like M-Files and others are poised to help businesses solve all of these challenges in one fell swoop.
By leveraging a tool like M-Files to automate a lot of those menial, repetitive tasks that used to take up so much of an employee's time, you're significantly reducing the amount of communication that is required for a given task. This is especially true for those tasks that are repeated on a regular basis. When less frequent communication is required, you'll be dealing with fewer communication-related issues as a result.
Likewise, document management solutions like M-Files allow for automated workflows that greatly improve both efficiency and repeatability across the board. Again, a lot of the tasks that employees are forced to deal with are nothing if not repeatable. But if they're constantly repeated by humans without a consistent structure in place, you're only increasing the chances that human error will rear its ugly head and that quality control will suffer.
With electronic automation, you not only get the benefit of making sure that the job gets done properly every single time by way of a consistent, repeatable workflow — you also get to free up the valuable time of an employee so that they can focus on matters that will actually make you money.
In the end, the new remote era that we're currently living in has certainly brought with it some advantages. Unfortunately, it's created a "brave new world" of challenges, too. But thankfully, solutions have emerge that will allow you to embrace this "next normal" with as few of the potential downsides as possible — and the right document management solution like M-Files is absolutely at the top of that list.