Remote working is the way of the future. According to Forbes, approximately 50% of the US population currently work remotely (whether fully or partially). And this trend is quickly picking up speed across the globe, as workers value work-life balance – and now have the tools and technology to be productive from outside the office.

But before jumping on the remote working trend, be sure that your company (and employees) are set up for optimal productivity – wherever they’re working from. This means equipping them with the tech they need for conducive, collaborative work.

Hardware

Laptop | Smartphone | Data plan

The basic equipment a remote worker needs are a laptop, smartphone and a data-driven mobile plan. As connectivity is a priority for these workers, be sure to provide them with a laptop that has modern Wi-Fi connectivity options – this means a wireless AC connection (not just wireless N) and preferably a good inbuilt camera and microphone for video calls.

Project Management

Slack | Basecamp | Trello | Asana

Next, your teams (both in and out of the office) will need to be well-versed with project management solutions. While remote working removes the ability to walk over to a colleague’s desk and tap them on the shoulder, project management solutions can be just as effective – with options for keeping projects neat, updated and moving forward.

Some of the most popular choices include Slack, Basecamp, Trello and Asana.

Collaboration and Communication

Skype | Angage web and video conferencing

The secret to effective remote working teams is communication. With the technology and high-speed connectivity options available today, it shouldn’t make a difference whether colleagues are working in the same office – or in completely different continents – with collaborative tools and a stable internet connection, productive meetings and workflows can still take place.

And with a simple solution like Skype, or a comprehensive service like Angage’s web and video conferencing solution, online meetings and discussions can be even more productive than in-office meetings (that often delve into chatter and snacks, instead of remaining focused on the agenda).

File Sharing

Dropbox | Google Drive

Remember when you had to share files with colleagues using thumbdrives? It’s amazing to think that thumbdrives are quickly going the way of the dodo, as file sharing services are beginning to make them extinct.

Tech like Dropbox and Google Drive are making it incredibly simple for team members to not only share files with colleagues – but also to ensure that every member of the team always has access to the latest version of every project file. No more confusion over multiple or outdated files, this is how collaboration should be.

Security

VPN | Anti-virus

This is one area of remote working that’s commonly overlooked – that is, until something untoward happens and there’s a breach in the system. Working in public spaces and using untrusted connections has its risks, but these risks can be managed with good security measures.

At a very basic level, your remote workers should at least have a reputable virtual private network (VPN) service and anti-virus software installed in their laptops. (They should also refrain from using their work laptops as their personal laptops, but that’s another discussion for another time.) A good VPN will keep your remote worker’s communications safe, while anti-virus software helps to keep viruses and malware away from the files stored on your remote workers’ laptops.