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What should you look for in remote working tools this year?

19 Jan 2021

As we embark on what could be another year of remote working, Asana’s Katie Guzman shares her thoughts on tech tools trends.

Last year’s shift to remote working saw companies around the world employ technology to help with productivity, communication, employee connection and more. Teams relied on a variety of remote working tools, from Slack to OneDrive and Confluence.

Looking ahead, Katie Guzman, product lead for growth and adoption at Asana, believes there will be demand for deeper integration of these types of tools in 2021.

“According to an Asana survey conducted in October 2020, enterprise workers are switching between an average of 10 apps 25 times per day during remote and hybrid work,” she told Siliconrepublic.com. According to Guzman, this can result in “fragmented communication, reduced efficiency and increased duplication of work”.

Asana, which provides a platform to help project managers monitor workloads, goals and timelines, is now focusing on fewer but deeper app integrations. Too often, Guzman said, systems offer lots of integrations at a surface level that don’t fully connect during day-to-day work.

An example she gave of a deeper integration would be joining a Microsoft Teams call and being able to load Asana in the same panel in real time.

Katie Guzman of Asana is wearing a red shirt and smiling into the camera against a blue-purple background.

Katie Guzman. Image: Asana

‘From surviving to thriving’

A big difference Guzman expects to see in remote working tools this year will be the reason why we use them. When the pandemic hit in 2020, businesses were scrambling to keep operations moving. Now, many have become accustomed to the virtual working world and, as a result, there will be a need for more refined and specialised tools.

“No matter what the future holds, 2020 was a catalyst for monumental change and distributed work in some form is here to stay for many companies,” Guzman said.

“With that in mind, business leaders will have to re-evaluate which collaboration and work management tools are going to stick and scale across their organisation.

“Whether that’s Slack for messaging or Zoom for meetings, 2021 will be the year where the adoption of versatile and transparent platforms will take teams from surviving to thriving in hybrid work.”

So, what does a company need to consider when picking tools for its remote working arsenal? “These tools should act as a single source of truth for teams, where the status of work can be tracked accurately and all relevant team members have full clarity on what the next steps for a project are,” Guzman suggested.

“When cross-functional teams are working together seamlessly, impactful work can take place. Regardless of location, individuals can be sure that they are all working towards one common goal and the overarching company mission.”

Tips for taking on new tools in 2021

If your tools and apps aren’t connected in the right ways, she added, switching between tasks consumes time and energy.

“Informal recognition, which once took place in office hallways and meeting rooms, has almost disappeared, leaving employees feeling less seen, valued and driven by the impact of their daily work. At enterprise organisations with thousands and tens of thousands of employees, this impact is amplified, making it increasingly difficult to keep everyone aligned, engaged and striving to achieve the same mission.”

‘For CIOs and IT teams, it’s simple: identify tools that stick and scale’

To adapt to this new reality, organisations need to embrace “the tech stack of the agile enterprise”. This could involve a combination of essential employee apps and platforms, from Zoom to Slack, to remove boundaries and connect employees no matter what department, or country, they sit in.

“Adoption of the new tech stack for the modern enterprise will ensure that tools don’t quickly become ‘shelfware’ and that the organisation as a whole will continue to thrive,” Guzman said.

“In the Covid-19 era of unprecedented change and uncertainty, planning for what comes next may seem like an insurmountable challenge. But for CIOs and IT teams, it’s simple: identify tools that stick and scale.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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