The way businesses purchase and use software has undergone a massive change in the last decade. SaaS, Software as a Service, is a concept where software is rented rather than bought. You don’t really own the software, as you lose the right to use it the moment you end your subscription, but the concept of SaaS comes with a lot of benefits that are hard to pass up on.
One subset of employees to whom SaaS appeals to particularly are those that work from home. Working from home using SaaS software has many advantages for employees, freelancers and entrepreneurs, and has opened up many possibilities for remote work that we’ll cover in this article.
Before SaaS, businesses would purchase software and own it. This had its fair share of pros and cons, but the IT industry eventually shifted towards a subscription-based model for multiple reasons. Today, many companies make use of SaaS software. What this means is that these companies subscribe to software they need, and pay monthly or annual fees to use it. Though the company never owns the software, they also never have to install expensive servers of their own or purchase newer versions every year. Let’s first have a look at the main categories of SaaS software before getting into more details.
Horizontal SaaS: Horizontal SaaS software is made to be used in lots of different fields of work. Horizontal SaaS software is designed so that it can be useful to as many clients as possible, and tries to appeal to as many professions as it can. An example of horizontal SaaS is Slack, a software used by businesses worldwide for communication and collaboration on projects. Another example is Microsoft Office 365; which includes a suite of Office applications and other features to help you manage your work.
Vertical SaaS: Vertical SaaS is the inverse of horizontal SaaS; software designed for a specific market or niche. Unlike horizontal SaaS, vertical SaaS doesn’t try to appeal to as many clients and instead, focuses more on perfecting the services keeping needs of a specific niche. An example of vertical SaaS is Procore, a software for project management solutions designed primarily for construction companies.
On Top SaaS: A relatively newer form of SaaS, on top SaaS was designed as something that could be added to existing SaaS software. On top SaaS enhances the functionality of already established software platforms and adds features/functionality on top. Brands have now begun to collaborate and add cross-software support for their products, with PaaS (Platform as a Service) being a leading example.
SaaS 2.0: SaaS 2.0 is a better, more concrete form of SaaS that is designed to manage and automate every process of a specific business. SaaS 2.0 is made keeping specific needs of a business in mind and is designed around their workings and needs so that it can handle everything the company needs. With SaaS 2.0, companies can rely on a single piece of software to handle all their operations according to their demands.
Advantages of SaaS for Work from Home Employees
If traditional software is used instead of SaaS, employees working from home need powerful computers to be able to run demanding software. SaaS eliminates this issue because SaaS software runs on the cloud, and all you need to do is simply log in. And you can login from anywhere, anytime, making SaaS a very accessible option for people wishing to work from home. Employers can also remotely keep track of employee progress to make sure they are performing at their best.
Collaboration and Communication
SaaS collaboration and communications solutions provide users the ability to talk via text or voice/video call, share resources, schedule meetings, keep track of progress, share notes, and do much more. SaaS software enables teams to stay connected and streamlines communication. This allows all employees and team leads to collaborate in one shared space with everything visible and accessible.
SaaS software saves you money in more ways than one. For businesses, SaaS eliminates the need to purchase, install, and set up expensive servers. For employees, SaaS means they no longer need to invest in a powerful computer to be able to work. SaaS allows people to work even from their average, daily-use laptop on projects that once required beefy computers. SaaS also means companies don’t need to buy fully priced software each year, and instead can get away with cheaper subscriptions.
Scalability is another big advantage of SaaS solutions. This means that starting out, a small company might only want to subscribe to the cheapest subscription tier for just the essential tools that they need. As the company grows and so do its needs, it can upgrade to better tiers with more tools and also pay more for additional server space instead of purchasing more servers themselves. Employees who work from home can choose, or have their company choose for them, whatever tier works best. If they need more storage or better tools for a temporary period, they can upgrade their subscription for that period of time and then revert back later, saving money.
Automatic Updates and Maintenance
SaaS software comes with the benefit of always being up-to-date for every user. Unlike traditional software, you don’t need to buy the newest package every year to stay ahead of the curve. All SaaS software at all subscription levels is kept updated and maintained throughout the year. Feedback is received from clients every day and updates are rolled out routinely. This means that, if you’re subscribed to SaaS software, you don’t have to worry about being left behind and can rest assured that you’re always using the latest the developers have to offer.
SaaS Use Cases for Remote Work
SaaS is widely used and in most cases is the default option for communication and collaboration, which makes it an excellent choice for working from home. Some areas where SaaS software is used include:
Video Conferencing: Companies, freelancers and work-from-home employees hold video conferences for meetings, collaboration and cohesion. Video conferencing also allows for real-time course evaluation and analysis. Video conferencing tools have become quite popular among employees working from home, and continue to rise in popularity as work from home culture gains further ground. Zoom Meetings is a very well-known video conferencing service, but there is no shortage of SaaS alternatives; like Google Meet and Webex.
Collaboration Tools: For people working from home, they need a software they can rely on to collaborate with their coworkers. SaaS software works brilliantly here because everyone can access it from anywhere and everything is stored in the cloud. You can upload resources, leave notes, and schedule meetings all from one place. Managers and team leads can also keep track of everyone’s progress and suggest revisions or changes whenever needed. Slack is a very popular SaaS software used by companies for inhouse collaboration. ClickUp is another example, and features an extensive list of options and tools.
Emails and Messaging: Outside of collaboration-oriented SaaS software, there are other SaaS platforms employees can use when working from home. Email services like Gmail or Outlook, for example, are a very common form of a SaaS service. Emails are used around the world by employees and employers to talk about projects, share smaller resources, and discuss changes to ongoing projects.
Then there are messaging services as well. These messaging services have changed the world; providing everyone with the means to communicate free of cost, provided they have an internet connection. WhatsApp, Telegram, and Microsoft Teams for example, allow you to do this. Slack, also doubles as a messaging SaaS service.
Project and Document Management
If you or your employees work from home, SaaS services like Slack and Dropbox make managing and sharing resources a breeze. You can quickly and easily send documents to others, reupload modified documents and projects, and organize how these resources are organized and shared. Services like these and Google Drive and Google Docs also allow you to set restrictions on who can access or modify what. This allows you to maintain a hierarchy even when everything is shared in one place.
Human Resources Management
SaaS HRMs – Human Resources Management systems – are used by companies everywhere for their ease of use, flexibility, and accessibility, but they are also very helpful for employees working from home. Not only do SaaS HRMs provide a place to track all employees together, it also allows said employees to be able to access the same HR resources that they need. Furthermore, HRMs can automate certain company processes like payrolls, so employees can be paid on time. Microsoft SharePoint HRMS is one example of an HRM.
Customer Relationship Management
SaaS CRMs – Customer Relationship Management solution – much like HRMs, can be used to centralize all customer data in one accessible place. People working from home can access customer data from anywhere, and customers themselves can see their data as well. Customer data can also be shared amongst coworkers, and they can view analytics reports to find out what customers like or want improved. Salesforce, Sugar CRM and ZOHO CRM are some of the most popular CRMs.
SaaS Security for Remote Work
SaaS service providers are always trying to keep up with security measures. They do this by various means, like encrypting their data and installing software and hardware blocks in place to prevent data theft. Data encryption prevents thieves from making any use of stolen data. SaaS companies also regularly backup data, so it can be restored in the case of data loss. SaaS service providers also try to update their security software and measures whenever they can to prevent data thieves from gaining an edge over them even for a brief period.
SaaS companies need to take access to data very seriously, and they do this by implementing authentication measures that make sure no one but you can access your data. SaaS companies also alert you if your data is accessed from a different location or device. Today, two-step verification has become a norm, requiring users to use their phone as well to log in, which makes it a lot more difficult for thieves to access your data.
Third-Party Security and Regulatory Compliance
SaaS software providers hire third-party cybersecurity firms to help secure their data against breaches. These firms are experts in the field and stay up-to-date with emerging online threats. Additionally, SaaS companies are legally obligated to comply with regional regulations and guidelines that help keep data secure. These regulations include methods to combat breaches and legal actions against SaaS providers who fail to follow guidelines and put user data at risk.
SaaS Support for Work-Life Balance
Using SaaS software when working from home gives you more choices about how you approach your work and improves your work-life balance in the process. Some things SaaS can help with when working from home include:
Flexible Work Hours: Naturally, when working from home, you generally get to set your own hours. However, this wasn’t always possible before SaaS became mainstream. Some employees needed to stick to regular office hours so they could access company resources. And if the company hosted its own software, then employees would have to stick to traditional office hours to access it. With SaaS software providing 24/7 access to its services from anywhere, you get to set your own hours however you like without compromising on teamwork or having less resources at hand.
Reduced Commute Time: If you work from home you don’t have to spend time commuting everyday to and from the office. You might need to sometimes show up for very important tasks, but that’s nothing when it comes to regular commute times every day. SaaS, especially SaaS collaboration software, has significantly reduced the need to come into the office than ever before.
Increased Productivity: It’s quite common that people find their productivity go up when they get to work from home. Eliminating commute times and groggy mornings fueled by coffee, people also find themselves much more comfortable working when they’re at home. With SaaS, you have an improved work environment and it boosts your work output significantly if done the right way.
SaaS has greatly changed the culture of working from home. You no longer need to invest in expensive computers or show up to the office for meetings. Your productivity increases, you’re more comfortable than before, and can still share resources and communicate with coworkers just like in a physical office. If you’re considering switching to working from home, there’s no better time to start than right now. SaaS has made working from home so much easier that you’ll find no trouble adapting and are likely to be happier as a result.