Why the holidays are ideal for collaborative tech and remote work

Let employees work remotely during the holidays and use collaborative technology such as Zoom, Slack and RingCentral.

How to prepare your workforce for the digital era At the 2019 MIT CIO Symposium, Amy DeCastro of Schneider Electric discussed how HR and IT teams can work together to upskill workers.

As the holiday season approaches, the office competition for vacation days has begun. Those inclined to be organized planners have accessed the shared office calendar, in the hopes that they'll be able to take time off, without compromising the office. Take the pressure off your employees, while continuing to maintain office integrity in a time when many businesses are working with half-staff. Use collaborative technologies to allow employees to work remotely from home during the holidays, said Becky Linahon, marketing director at TetraVX.

And as for which technology jobs are ideally suited to remote work, she says, "Honestly, all of them. With video calling, messaging, and real-time collaboration platforms, the previous need to be face-to-face has dwindled." Collaborative technology, which TetraVx specializes in, Linahon says, "is the key facilitator of the growing remote work trend. It brings us into virtual conference rooms and gives us real-time access to our coworkers."

Holiday HR policies

Holiday joy can be severely curtailed by limited vacation days or holiday leave (especially for those who do not have paid time off/PTO, and must take days off without pay). Many "organizations that provide client services work have strict policies regarding how many team members can be absent on the same day, requiring that at least one member be available at all times," Linahon said. "Remote work allows employees to travel or enjoy family time while still staying available and online during necessary business hours."

SEE: Working remotely: A professional's guide to the essential tools (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Karen Oakey, director of HR at Fracture, suggested a company can "review their current leave, remote and virtual policies." With flexibility, "I recommend seeing what combination of technologies might be implemented to foster" a mutually beneficial work environment.

Use this tech during remote holiday days

Technologies which help a productive remote situation include Slack or WhatsApp for communication. Slack integrates with apps and platforms for document sharing and notifications; for project management opt for the platforms Trello , Asana and Jira; for virtual meeting, Oakey suggested Zoom, Slack Video and RingCentral.

Cofounder of CodeStream Michael Gersh agrees that Slack and Zoom work well, and adds his CodeStream as an alternative collaborative technology. Gersh supports allowing employees remotely during the holidays and regular days because it "eliminates geography from any hiring considerations so companies can focus on hiring the best employee for a position regardless of where they are from."

Jira and Slack are relied upon heavily at Collage.com, says co-CEO Kevin Borders, who added, "The key to successful remote work is not just using collaborative technology like Slack to meet in real time, but also making information available around the clock. Tracking task status in a project management system, keeping up-to-date shared planning documents, and providing a dashboard with key business metrics empowers people to work whenever they want." Collage.com also uses GitHub , Google Docs , Mode and Google Analytics to round out the remote technology."

A combination of the best available technologies will make time away from the office easier and safer. "One of the biggest must-haves for any remote worker is multiple ways to communicate with his or her team," said Kathy Gardner, director of PR at Remote.co, a company that uses Slack, Pivotal Tracker , Trello, Basecamp, Yammer, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts , join.me and Skype . "Communication is the foundation of any solid remote team, and over 140 remote team leaders have told us that tools like instant messaging, web and video conferencing, project management programs, screen and document sharing, and team collaboration software is the key to a productive and communicative remote team."

"As flexibility at work becomes increasingly mainstream, collaborative technology becomes an important enabler," said Sid Bhatia, a PwC workplace environment leader, who also added, "from an enterprise perspective, in addition to thinking through integrating collaborative technology into a broader suite of tools, compliance with security protocols are paramount." In addition to a company's HR department addressing policies for the holidays, IT should be sure cybersecurity is set for those who will be working remotely while visiting friends and family during this time.

Pack these items for working remotely on the holidays

Remote.co's Garder said these tech items are a must have for a working vacation:

A wireless mouse: This tool will help you move your workstation, either around the house throughout the day or even to a coffee shop or library. "I never take my laptop anywhere without my wireless mouse because it makes me so much more efficient."

A good headset: Some are wired and some are wireless, but if you're going to be talking with people over your computer on a regular basis, a good headset is a must, "according to the over 35 remote workers we've asked." Headsets improve your voice quality so the person you're speaking with can better understand you. They also eliminate the echo that is so common when talking with people over a computer. 

An external battery pack: This can come in handy if you're working on the go and you either don't want to bring your laptop's charging cord with you, or you're not sure you'll have access to a power outlet when you need one. 

An anti-glare screen for outdoor working: One of the biggest perks of working remotely is that you get to spend time working in different environments, and on nice days, that can mean outdoors. But without a screen that reduces or eliminates the glare on your screen created by sunlight, you'll find it almost impossible to work outside.   

Conduct business as usual while working remotely

Employers should leverage collaboration technologies that allow employees to work remotely during the holiday season. The company can still conduct business as usual and employees can take work with them so they don't miss out on holiday festivities. This creates a sense of well-being for employers who won't lose work and employees, who'll get to spend quality time during the holidays. This employer thoughtfulness brings a positive culture, making employees more motivated and the general vibe conducive to collaboration, with collaborative technologies.

For more, check out How to land a remote job, and thrive in it on TechRepublic. 

Also see 

Businesswoman in her office at Christmas time

Businesswoman in her office at Christmas time. Sitting by the desk, using phone and laptop.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto