Do you have the tools and processes in place to keep your employees productive to work from home for a sustained length of time?
No matter what size of business you run, you need to ensure your employees have instant access to the info they need to do their jobs. Are they able to work from home? Is your company’s data safe if they do? Find out what you need to do to make sure your employees can work from home effectively and safely.
6-steps to prepare your business for remote-working
As the novel Coronavirus Covid-19 spreads through the UK, the government have been discussing their action plan for combating it. They are focused on delaying the spread of the disease and are urging everyone to enable their employees to work from home.
The bad news is that it is up to you, the employer, to ensure that all the tools needed by employees for communication, collaboration and file sharing are available to them at home. It is also important that your employees have the same level of protection at home as they do in the office.
Now for the good news. We have pulled together a comprehensive list of tools we recommend for keeping your employees agile and productive even when they are working remotely:
(1) Empower your employees with communication tools
Communication is the key to success for every business, but working from home removes the ability to interact with your team face-to-face. Despite the majority of your employees having their own mobile phones and multiple channels for you to contact them through, some tools are better suited to professional use than others.
SpecTronics recommends Microsoft Teams: created specifically for businesses as the successor to Skype for Business. Being set up with business in mind, Microsoft Teams allows you to actively connect and collaborate with your employees securely and efficiently. As well as being designed and organised in a way that works for organisations, Microsoft Teams is also seamlessly integrated with other Office 365 apps. The use of Microsoft Teams alongside regular use of email and phone calls can help enormously in keeping up strong face-to-face communication within your business without your employees needing to be in the office.
Your employees may be inclined to use WhatsApp to communicate with each other whilst working remotely. Although millions of people use it every day, WhatsApp is not necessarily the best tool to use in a professional setting. As well as the GDPR compliance issues WhatsApp has had, the use of phone numbers instead of names leads to confusion and the transfer and discussion of sensitive information could be an issue due to lack of privacy. It is also difficult to adhere to a professional mindset on an app predominantly used for personal messaging.
(2) Do you have file sharing tools in place?
There are a number of tools that can be used for online file sharing, the most popular being Google Drive and SharePoint (also part of Office365). SpecTronics recommends the use of one of these to store all files relating to your business. A file sharing system such as SharePoint allows your employees access to their work files wherever they are: in the office, on the move or working from home. Microsoft have also guaranteed that operations will continue regardless of the spread of Covid-19 and they have systems in place to ensure an uninterrupted service. This may be something to keep in mind when reviewing which file sharing systems your business chooses to use.
(3) Can your team collaborate at home as they would in the office?
When it comes to working remotely, it is important that your employees are still able to collaborate and work together on projects. As well as seamless communication, your team will need a reliable way to collaborate on files that require multiple people to work on them simultaneously. Again, both Google and Microsoft have excellent tools for this: Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online. If your team is using Office 365, they will already have access to Microsoft Office Online and your employees will be able to use these alongside Teams and SharePoint to ensure they can work efficiently and stay productive when they are working from home. The use of Google’s equivalent software - Docs, Drive and Hangout - also work very well for communication, file sharing and collaboration when your employees cannot meet in person. As a certified Microsoft Partner and Google Cloud Partner, SpecTronics are more than qualified to advise on the best tools to help your staff to continue to work as a team, wherever they are located, so please do get in touch.
(4) Have all your company software and files been migrated to the cloud?
Whilst you may have what you need for communication and file sharing, there may be essential software that your company uses that is currently only available on your premises. This could necessitate the need to transfer some of your crucial software and IT operations into the cloud, allowing your employees access to them wherever they are. SpecTronics specialise in cloud computing so please get in touch to find the perfect solution for you.
(5) Is your company data as secure at home as it is in the office?
When your employees are working from home, it is of upmost importance that they have the necessary network security and protection levels in place. If personal devices are being used for work, you must make sure that the correct security settings are being used to ensure the safety of company files and communications. Reading our blogs on Testing Business Resilience and IT Downtime will give you all the information you need to ensure your data is secure. Having an effective business continuity and disaster recovery plan is essential to ensure your data is safe and your customers can always reach you. With a remote working scenario, SpecTronics can help your business both with security and with a data recovery plan to keep your data safe.
(6) Test run your policies & procedures
As well as your security systems and policies, you will also need to set up specific policies for those employees working remotely. Having a plan for communicating these policies and the guidelines for working at home is essential. Identifying key personnel for team members to coordinate with is incredibly important when people are working away from the office. It is also necessary to reinforce roles and responsibilities so that no one is left in the dark and everyone is kept up to date on what is happening. SpecTronics advises testing your business continuity plan with trial working from home days. This will highlight whether your software, security and policies are functioning properly prior to closing the office due to the pandemic. If this is not already the case, set up a trial whereby certain staff members work remotely on selected days. It will then be easy to recognise and solve any issues relating to specific people or teams before a full scale trial is put in place.
Business Continuity in the face of “the most frightening disease”
With virus expert Dr Richard Hatchett saying the combination of infectiousness and severity shown by Covid-19 makes it “the most frightening disease” he’s ever encountered, it can be difficult to know what we may be required to face in the coming weeks and months. We must therefore prepare our businesses as thoroughly as possible for the different potential scenarios based on what has already happened in China and Italy.
SpecTronics recommends you nominate a Business Continuity Manager, or Team, depending on the size of your business, with a “Pandemic Planning” remit. They should:
- Continually monitor the situation
- Review your organisation’s exposure to the threat
- Communicate with your staff and raise awareness of threat exposure and prevention
- Regularly update your pandemic management plan
Remote working – the future of work
To end on a more positive note, whilst Covid-19 may be forcing us into home-working practices, adopting the ability to work remotely could enhance your business in the long run. Founder of First Base, Chris Herd, is quoted on LinkedIn stating that “Companies who adopt remote working will replace every company who doesn’t in 20 years. The reason is incredibly simple: talent and efficiency.”
How we can support your business
If you need assistance with your business continuity planning or implementing a remote working setup for your team, we are here to help during this challenging time.
We are offering a FREE Business Continuity Assessment (our Essential Package valued at £675+VAT) to help you to continue to achieve your business goals and objectives.
PLUS a special rate for our Comprehensive Package which includes a Business Continuity Assessment, IT Disaster Recovery Test and Gap Analysis & 12 Month Plan for just £675+VAT (valued at £1,350+VAT).
If you would prefer to speak to one of our team directly, please call us on 03333 444 110