While the 2020 Coronavirus Outbreak is forcing global shifts toward remote working, this is part of a wider trend towards more flexible working arrangements that take advantage of technology to enable staff to carry out their duties, without the need to visit the office every day.
The adoption of cloud applications, mobile technology, and modern video and audio conferencing systems across industries has given businesses the ability to move towards increased remote working. However according to a recent YouGov survey, 12% of companies did not have the technology in place to support remote working.
The threat of coronavirus to businesses which cannot operate
remotely is an extreme scenario, but as quarantine protocols are instituted
around the world, businesses which cannot adapt to the situation will be under
At igroup, we have used remote working practices to enable greater flexibly for staff, and this has benefited our clients with greater access to technical staff when they need support or consultancy.
This experience has been fuelled by our embrace of
technology that allows us to work smarter while also instituting policies for
staff that support them and ensure they are available and productive.
If you are in the process of moving to a remote working system, the checklist below will be helpful in ensuring that you’re ready:
Ensuring your staff have access to all the technology they
need to work effectively is essential if remote working is to be a success.
Access to The Internet
A fundamental requirement for remote working is a fast,
reliable internet connection. Broadband
is more or less ubiquitous, and this can be supported by mobile phone hotspots
in an emergency. You may need to provide
additional technical support for staff if your business uses a VPN for
connecting to sensitive information as not all internet providers offer this by
default and it may need to be enabled individually.
Access to Documents
We use SharePoint as an Intranet and document repository. This means that all data is available to staff wherever they are, and through the use of version control and workflow management, our team can provide clients with up to date information and deliver a consistently excellent service.
Office 365 allows web access to information and applications
such as Word and Excel, which means that if an employee does not have access to
their usual workstation, they can still access productivity software and email
on other devices.
Access to Hardware
Computers that are locked to our company hardware policies
for security and access control means that data access can be managed as
effectively remotely as they can in the office.
Laptops offer staff more flexibility about working remotely, and powerful
processors and access to additional monitors mean that a productive working
environment can be maintained.
Access to Communication
The igroup staff use Microsoft Teams for voice, video and
text conversations throughout the day.
Instant access to colleagues helps to keep the team working smoothly
together and means that management can regularly speak to staff to ensure that
their needs are being met.
Managing staff remotely can be challenging if it is a new
process for your business. As such,
having clear policies in place to ensure that working practices are clearly set
and understood is essential. This should
be supported by clear accountability expectations between staff and management.
Working Hours Policy
Your staff should be aware of the time they are expected to
be available for work. Sticking to
standard office hours of 9-5 for remote workers is commonplace as it means that
staff are always where they are expected.
Remote working does offer greater flexibility for working hours, and it may be convenient for some staff to work different hours, however this should be specified, and colleagues made aware if one of their team is working different hours.
In a traditional office, it’s easy to see when a colleague
is available, this isn’t always the case when working remotely.
If your staff are using software like Teams or Skype to
communicate, they should always set their status appropriately so that
colleagues know where they are.
It is also useful to set expectations about how much of a
given workday staff should be available for, although this may vary in cases
where staff have a lot of external calls or meetings.
A policy on how quickly staff respond to customer or
colleague communication is important to efficiency and maintaining high
customer service standards.
Maintaining a policy whereby staff know who is going to respond to any enquiries and that phone calls are covered by staff throughout the day is essential.
Measuring productivity by outcome is recommended. By having a daily call with your team where
all objectives for the day are set and then a follow up at the end of the day,
you can ensure that the correct level of work is being carried out.
Regular reviews of progress on major projects to ensure that
deadlines and milestones are hit are important and should be scheduled with any
delays reported in advance.
Working Environment Policy
For staff to be productive, they should work in a suitable environment. Agreeing in advance what standards are expected is important. A home office or business centre are ideal. Staff should not generally work in public spaces such as coffee shops, except in an emergency. By specifying acceptable working locations in a policy, you can avoid later issues.
Security and Confidentiality Policy
This is related to the working environment policy above –
working in a public space or using public Wi-Fi could be a security risk for
client data. IT security policies on
work computers reduce the risk of devices being compromised, so the same
standards should be applied to any equipment that is used externally.
Want to find out more?
Whether your business is moving to a remote working policy as a short-term measure for business continuity purposes, or as part of a longer-term project, igroup can support you in building the right application stack. Contact a member of our team on 0203 697 0302 to find out how we can help.