As the coronavirus continues to spread and impact our businesses and our lives, many of us are preparing for, if not already working remotely, out of the office from home or non-routine locations. You might already have a good grip on how to handle a remote workforce, especially with the vast amount of technology available today such as Microsoft Teams. However, if this is completely new territory to your business and your staff, now is the time to capitalise on the tried and tested technology available to move your office seamlessly to a remote location.
Here’s our top things to consider before shutting down the office to make sure you’re good to go:
Review your current technology
You need to assess what technology you have available to continue to operate with minimal disruption to your business. Do all your employees have laptops for example? Do you have facilities to set up conference calls, video calls and share documents safely online between colleagues? Will any third parties need to join online meetings and how can you ensure data is shared securely? Many organisations are starting to adopt technologies such as Microsoft Teams in order to retain staff collaboration and communication. In times like this, it can be easy to forget the basics too; do you employees have sufficient Wi-Fi in their homes, do they all have power cables for their devices, are all the documents they’ll need to access accessible online rather than paper copies sat on their desks or in drawers? If you don’t already, start saving files in the cloud using tools such as Office 365 for co-author capabilities and instant editing, anywhere, anytime. If your staff aren’t used to working from home, support them through this so they can stay as efficient as if they were in the office.
Promote a sense of connection and familiarity
Lots of employees like working from home, but for some they can feel disconnected from the day to day hustle of the business. To ensure all staff still feel part of the business, set up group chats, ask for work to be shared online so there is still a sense of responsibility. Continue with meetings as normal, just move them all online. In today’s world, once you’ve provided the remote working capabilities to your staff, there should be no reason someone is less efficient at home as they are in the office. Keep communication flowing, especially during this uncertain time and promote a business as usual culture.
Keep your customers in the loop
If you provide a service or if customers are used to having access to your office or premises, it’s important that you update your customers on your approach to Covid-19. Even if your approach is business as usual, its worth reassuring them that you’re open, you’re available and that they can still expect the same level of service and support they’re used to. If you are implementing a work from home policy, let them know this too and outline how this might effect how they do business with you. Can they still reach you using all the familiar contact methods? What’s your approach to face to face meetings or site visits? If you sell goods are you experience any issues with your supply chain that they need to be aware of? Can you support them with their own business continuity measures? In times like this we all need to pull together and support each other. Show that you care and that you’re doing all you can to reduce operational impact.
Keep your data safe
As many of us move away from the secure and robust environment of the office with our devices, files and data, there are many ways we can still stay secure at home, here’s some of the basics we recommend:
- Log in via a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Ensure your passwords are strong
- Set up two-factor authentication
- Implement firewalls
- Install antivirus software
- Don’t ignore those update pop ups, install updates regularly
- Keep your data backed up, make use of the cloud
- Stay alert too phishing emails and cyber scams
- Lock your devices
- Delete data that’s no longer needed
- Review your incident reporting procedure
On top of all of the above, its really important that you educate your employees on the importance of data security when working remotely. Set up online training, test their knowledge and make sure they have awareness and understanding of all of your remote working policies. This could be new ground for you and for them, so education and communication is paramount.
Remember remote working policies and procedures should be ever evolving as technology and your business evolves. Regularly review and update the policies and frequently discuss them with your employees to keep them front of mind.
We hope this information is useful in supporting your business adopt a remote working approach, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you want some advice or support on any of the above, get in touch with one of our experts on 01392 207 194 or email us and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours.