Solutions Architect, Santosh Kannan, explains everything you need to consider before rolling out a remote working strategy.
It can be challenging if your workplace relies on office-based workers to suddenly find yourself in a position where you need to enable all staff to be able to work out of the office, remotely or at home. For offices that primarily use desktop PCs it can seem like an impossible task. Even those using laptops, if the equipment isn’t set up for remote working, systems either won’t work or won’t be secure when they aren’t being accessed on the office’s network.
So, what are the main considerations of rolling out remote working that you need to consider? Read on to find out.
When you want to roll out remote working, you need to first consider a deadline for when measures should begin. Once you know that, think about how long you will be working remotely. Days, weeks, or months? This should help you to prepare necessary resources for your team to ensure they will have everything they need while working remotely.
During this time, will you have any employees who might still need access to the office in order to their job? For example, if your staff handle physical products, they will need access to them.
Decide whether working remotely is going to be a permanent measure, or whether your team will be returning to the office at a point in time. After that point, it is up to you whether working from home be offered as a benefit, or scrapped entirely in favour of entirely office-based work.
Key questions to answer:
- When are you expected to start working remotely?
- How long will you be working remotely?
- Do you still have any employees that need to work on-site?
- Will you be reverting to only office-based work in the future?
Deciding ownership is going to be key to rolling out a remote working policy. You need to have someone who will make key decisions, communicate the plan out, and to be the point of contact for any enquiries or issues. This can of course be split out amongst others, but you need to choose the face of this policy for better clarity and to avoid confusion.
- Who is responsible for a work from home plan for your organisation?
- Who will be responsible for communicating the plan?
- Who should your employees contact with IT queries?
Remote working relies heavily on your employees being able to organise their own resources to run the systems needed. Accessing data and systems away from the office hinges upon whether the employee has reliable, secure internet access so they can use cloud-based services. You also need a plan for employees who can’t access the internet, or whose access is limited or poor quality.
For example, cloud-based remote working solutions can include key business tools such as the following:
- Microsoft Office 365 for productivity tools like Word, Excel and Outlook you can collaborate on
- SharePoint for an online document storage and management platform – a secure, reliable source of documents
- Teams for a flexible communication tool that offers meetings, video and audio calls, screen sharing for presentations, and group working functionality
- Do your employees have consistent internet access at their homes?
- Do you have a plan in case staff cannot access IT resources?
When you can’t physically get to your employees and their machines/workstations, it makes solving problems on their behalf a lot more complex. That’s why you need to make sure you have measures in place so that employees can solve issues on their own. If a password needs to be reset, they should be able to reset it themselves, rather than relying on your IT department. If this isn’t always going to be the case, it’s important that your employees have a way of contacting support by phone to get the assistance they need.
- Are your employees in a position to solve simple account access issues themselves? (e.g. self-service password resets)
- Do employees have secure access to all the account credentials and corporate data that they need?
- Do you need to set up a VPN? If so, how should employees access this?
Your employees need access to the hardware they need to do their job, and you need to make sure that equipment is suitable for home use. So have a think about what employees use on a day-to-day basis; for example, if they use PCs, can you offer laptops to work on at home?
If staff use mobiles and tablets, it is important that they are set up for use outside of the office, and that staff know how to update them if required. If your business requires equipment such as card readers or fingerprint readers, they should be securely set up for remote access.
For online meetings, video chat is recommended for a more personal feel like face-to-face meetings you would have in the office. To enable this, staff need to be able to use webcams and microphones.
- Do employees have laptops/workstations at home that they can use?
- Are your laptops/workstations encrypted?
- Do employees have a working webcam and microphone?
- Do employees require any other equipment to do their jobs? (Card readers, fingerprint readers, etc.)
When your team is working out of the office it can be challenging to keep everyone connected and up to date. Communication is key, and it would be hard for colleagues to communicate too much with each other.
To support better communication, you need to decide on the relevant channels and methods. Tools like Microsoft Teams can be revolutionary for remote communication. It offers chat, audio and video calls, conferences, webinars, whiteboarding, and much more. You need something in place to allow for the regular meetings that would take place in the office such as one-to-ones, group meetings, customer meetings, and more.
It is crucial to decide on important details about when and how staff will communicate with each other too, as it can be detrimental to wellbeing to be available for contact 24/7 – there should be limits. This can be achieved with public statuses to display working hours and daily availability.
- What communication channels will employees use to communicate with each other?
- How will company updates be sent to staff?
- Do your employees have contact information for colleagues?
- How will employees share their availability and display their working hours?
- Do employees have a reliable way of holding remote meetings?
Remote working shouldn’t mean compromising the security of your business data and systems. You need to identify the most at-risk areas of your business and decide how to boost your current security stance, as well as decide on a plan to keep systems protected long-term.
- What sensitive data or systems do you need to secure if accessed remotely?
- Do you have a data loss prevention plan to prevent the access of critical information?
Without employees in their vicinity to give quick updates about projects and tasks, you need to empower them to still do their job to the best of their ability. Managers need a resource scheduling or timesheet solution that provides clear visibility.
- How will you track progress on projects and tasks?
If you aren’t sure about the answers to any of the above questions, we’re a trusted IT advisor that is here to help. We’ll assess your current remote working readiness and build a plan with you for how to quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively get started. This covers everything from cloud-powered tools, cyber and data security and compliance, productivity tools, document storage and management platforms, resourcing planners, and much more. Simply get in touch for a free consultation.