REMOTE WORKING GUIDE
– ensure efficiency and productivity with effective business continuity planning
With the coronavirus spreading around the world, many businesses are struggling to function whilst ensuring their employees and customers are safe. Others are, by necessity, having to embrace remote working. They need to develop new processes and ensure staff are properly equipped to cope with the demands of working remotely as part of a team.
In the UK, events are being cancelled and travel restricted as the government continually updates its strategy to combat the virus. As official guidelines encourage people to work from home wherever possible, planning for business continuity through efficient remote working strategies will equip your workforce with the tools they need to stay productive throughout the current crisis.
Effective remote working
Connectivity and collaboration are the key components of effective remote working. Staff need to be able to communicate with each other as effectively as if they were sat together in the office. Achieving that level of communication isn’t easy. But nor is it impossible. In fact, it can be surprisingly straightforward. You may find that once processes, hardware and infrastructure have been put in place the productivity and creativity of your team will see a significant upswing.
So, what are the next steps? And what equipment do you need to enable your staff to work remotely?
Put together a business continuity plan
The first question to answer is; How many of your workers can realistically work from home? Obviously, if you’re in manufacturing, engineering, construction or similar industries your employees need to be on site to work. But many staff, knowledge workers, admin or service industry workers can work from home if they have the right equipment. The question you need to ask is: What does each worker and department need to function effectively from home?
Basic connectivity for remote working
Providing they have an internet connection and Virtual Private Network (VPN) connectivity to the corporate network most home workers will be able to access the tools they use every day in the office. It’ll be exactly as if they were back in their office chair. In short a VPN is the essential foundation on which to build a successful framework for remote working.
On a basic level a VPN can provide email, instant messaging and meeting functionality. Those are the core tools remote workers will need for everyday tasks. From the staff members point of view they need to make sure their home network is sufficient to enable them to work remotely. They may need to upgrade their router if multiple members of the family are at home or self-isolating and all attempting to use the network. The staff member may need to invest in a new router or home network system such as the Tenda NOVA MW5.
From the businesses’ point of view the current infrastructure may not be able to cope with large amounts of traffic. VPN access points can be set to automatically redirect and distribute traffic as needed. There’s also an option called Split Tunnelling VPN. This is where large amounts of traffic are diverted to allow the smooth operation of your company networks. Speak to the Ebuyer Solutions Team about this. Cloud services can also be used to help with capacity issues.
Don’t overlook security
Understandably, security is one of the biggest concerns business owners have with remote working. The corporate network needs to be protected against malware and other cyber threats. Choosing the right VPN with firewall, multifactor authentication and encryption technologies built in will safeguard the business, remote workers and critical data from malicious threats. The Ebuyer Solutions Team are able to provide advice and the products you need to ensure your working from home programme is completely secure.
Remote working requires collaboration
As we’ve already said, basic internet connectivity will allow most forms of basic collaboration wherever your staff members happen to be located. Email, instant messaging and a meetings facility will enable the majority of business to keep running effectively. Add to this access to a mobile, and employees have all the basics they need to collaborate with co-workers and businesses over voice and email. But other collaboration tools will help increase productivity. Foremost of these are the capability for the team to ‘virtually meet’ to more closely collaborate on projects.
Fortunately, there are very effective collaboration tools which are easily accessible. For example, if you have Microsoft Office 365, then you have already have access to Microsoft Teams, which enables remote workers to collaborate in real-time. Teams is also used extensively in education. Many schools use it for remote learning without any negative impact on learning. It’s a virtual classroom, at home. Similarly, Teams is ideal for all businesses’ to remotely manage and create projects with multiple staff members able to work on a project simultaneously.
With conferences being cancelled and travel restricted throughout Europe and beyond, it may be that your business needs to have the facility to communicate via video broadcasting.
Video communications allow your business to work closely with clients for day-to-day meetings and presentations. It’s also an effective way to educate your customers about what you’re doing as a business to ensure continuity in uncertain times.
As a business you need to continually communicate with your staff and clients. Keep them informed of developments and plan ahead. Keep your company website and social media updated as often as possible, and offer regular video calls for good business relations.
If your employees are working remotely, it is also important to ensure they are comfortable with your company plans. Perhaps they are uncomfortable with having to travel nationally for a meeting? There needs to be a balance between remote working and planning for business continuity.
Equipping your workforce
The first thing you’ll need when setting up remote working is the correct licence for any software used by your staff. A Remote Desktop Services (RDS) licence is needed for every remote worker using Microsoft software. This is in addition to the CAL you’ll have purchased for normal office use. As well as an RDS, your employees will need various pieces of equipment depending on their role.
12.5 to 14-inch screens offer the best balance between usability and portability. Decide on a budget and then select a quality manufacturer, such as Dell, HP Asus, Lenovo to get the best quality for the best price.View Laptops
A good quality headset gives you the freedom to move around whilst working and gives you extra privacy – after all, you may have children at home too. If you spend time on the phone and feel neck or back pain, a headset will also provide a health benefit.
Improve your typing experience with a full-size keyboard. You can also get wireless keyboards which draw power from the USB giving you total convenience.
A wireless mouse means you don’t have to worry about cables. There are many inexpensive mice available, and these days they are a joy to use.
Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse for Business
- Navigate with better speed, accuracy, and reliability. The optical sensor tracks movement on nearly any surface.
- Move through your documents quickly without having to use the on-screen scroll bar.
- Use your mouse with your left or right hand. Ambidextrous design makes it comfortable either way.
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Many people use dual monitors for work and it’s simplicity itself to connect an extra monitor to your laptop. Work how you’re used to.
If you’re going to be working from home, you’ll need the right cables. Yes, it’s common sense, but these accessories are easily overlooked.View Cables
Working on a computer is just a part of the process. A printer is invaluable for checking work. You’ll also need the appropriate inks and paper, too.
Speak to us about networking product advice: 01430 433 671
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