For many years, telecommuting and remote workers in general made up a small portion of the overall workforce. Companies that accommodated remote workers usually did so due to travel or family obligations that would make commuting to the office impossible. Many of these arrangements existed temporarily. After 2020 and the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work vaulted nearly overnight from a niche segment to a large portion of the labor pool. In May of 2020, almost 35% of the total workforce was working from home.
With many businesses making a permanent or semi-permanent transition to a remote office style, maintaining connections between employees has become a prime area of focus. At the heart of these efforts has been the transformative impact of new and advanced video conferencing software. By integrating other tools for collaboration into workflows based on video chat, businesses can easily prepare for the future of work while creating a new space altogether.
What led to this opportunity, and how can a company capitalize on it?
How Video Turned the Remote Office Into a Viable Force
Video conferencing software lagged behind the curve for years due to the challenges inherent to the technology. A fast connection and good computer hardware were necessary for acceptable video quality, and even then, there was no guarantee that the service itself would perform well. Chatting in large groups was virtually out of the question. By 2020, however, the technology had caught up to commercial and non-commercial users’ demands.
Suddenly, it was possible to recreate a portion of the office experience on the computer screen. With software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams rising to dominate the market, the capability to connect a dozen or more individuals in disparate locations was now in easy reach. The advent of better video conferencing enabled the rise of truly remote offices by offering many benefits. Those include:
- Keeping isolated team members socially engaged and “in the loop” on projects, company policies, and more.
- Facilitating more accessible meetings between teams spread over a wide geographic area.
- Making remote workers feel like an integrated part of the team.
- Quick and accurate face-to-face communication for clarity and collaboration.
Why Does Better Document Collaboration Matter?
Chatting, sharing ideas, and collaborating in real-time through video are all valuable to a business — but it’s still only communication. What about tools for completing actual work projects together? While video chat has been spreading, another technology has begun to become more common in physical and remote offices: real-time document collaboration on standard formats such as PDF.
Many users are familiar with real-time document tools in the cloud that replicate traditional word processing or spreadsheet programs. However, the PDF has typically not been so flexible despite the format’s fundamental importance to many workflows. When teams separated by distance need to work on the same PDF, it’s easy to lose sight of good version control, introducing confusion to the process.
Advanced PDF software opens the door to collaboration on this format in real-time. Not only does that mean eliminating confusion about versions, but it allows multiple users to make suggestions and changes to the same document simultaneously. The result is an opportunity to complete projects more quickly and with greater accuracy and convenience. According to a study conducted by Stanford, collaborative work led to a 64% increase in time-on-task.
Fashioning the Modern & Mobile Workplace
Imagine the intersection of video conferencing and document collaboration. What you have is a setup that is strikingly similar to the types of work in a traditional office. Combining multi-user video chat with real-time PDF editing creates a new workspace altogether — one in which a team that could be states or even oceans away from each other can complete projects as if no space separated them at all.
Each technology has limitations when used on its own. When a team connects for a video chat while also opening the same document for editing, it is easy to bypass those limitations. Instead of using mark-up tools alone, users in a video meeting can enjoy clear communication about what to edit and where. Such opportunities can pave the way to “looping in” members from other locations when their input is necessary while also ensuring workers on the go don’t fall out of touch with a project’s progress.
The future of the office isn’t fully remote or entirely in-person, but a blend that enables businesses to meet their needs while retaining the agility and flexibility of a hybrid workforce. By acquiring and deploying the best tools for video conferencing and PDF collaboration, companies can accelerate their transition towards this future and begin unlocking new potential for growth and success.