IT Support 101: How To Enable Home Working For Your Business
If your business primarily operates in an office-based setting, with employees using computers, laptops, printers, etc. It may be worth considering how flexible you can be for your staff, in the form of homeworking.
With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, a form of animal contracted Coronavirus, companies around the world are now beginning to fear the consequences of possible lockdowns in localised cities, including areas around Singapore. As we know, no deaths have been recorded so far in Singapore, however, it is inevitable that case numbers will rise without full travel restrictions, and with Changi Airport being one of the world's busiest transit airports, it is easier than ever for this virus to spread and leave companies as well as employees with no choice other than to stay away from the office eventually.
If you're a business owner with an office-based setup, this can be the best time to implement a home-based working strategy. When it comes to home working, having a properly constructed cloud network is essential, your staff needs to be able to share and work with files day-to-day. Good examples are Microsoft Sharepoint or Dropbox which are free to use for storage up to 1TB.
Telephony is probably the most important aspect of being able to distribute tasks to your employees. With a properly managed IT Solution, you can implement IP Telephony (Internet Protocol), to enable conference calls and meetings without having to have a physical system in your office. Hosted Telephony especially, is a great solution to ensure you can communicate even from your own home. VOIP phones can be set up from home with easy plug and play, and tools like Skype and Whatsapp can be great alternatives to keeping in contact with your staff while they work from home.
A good enough laptop or PC may need to be purchased to enable home working if employees cannot "take their desks home", in addition, a solid internet connection is highly recommended. Consider giving your employees ethernet cabling to connect directly with their home routers, to improve upload and download speeds.
A good laptop and a fast internet speed is a great start to implement working from home. Next, you must consider whether you need certain software and additional licenses if you wish to set up new laptops for your employees. Perhaps it would be better to get a third party to set up custom laptops, that already have all of the necessary software pre-installed onto them? Think Microsoft Office, Sage, Call Recording Tools, Outlook, Skype, Internet Security, Virus Protection.
What are the pros and cons of Home Working?
Everything can be kept online on the cloud - As your workers will be communicating and sharing files from home, the only way they can share files is through the cloud, this is much safer for when a laptop or PC crashes, the document will still be saved onto the cloud, instead of being deleted from the hard-drive locally.
No commute, and no travel costs for you or your employees, which can improve lateness as employees have more free time between working hours
Convenience for your employees - By working from their home desks or laptops, employees will have a sense of ease and comfort, they will be able to use their device more efficiently as they perhaps are more used to working from a laptop.
Fewer distractions - In an office setting, you can get phonecalls here, there and everywhere, which can result in multiple distractions that prevent important tasks from being done. By providing each employee with a remote phone, only calls directed to them will ring to their handset, which can result in greater efficiency and more tasks being completed to a high standard.
Lower costs for companies - Employers no longer have to provide free meals, uniforms, desks & stationery. The employees will, generally, have all of these resources in the comfort of their own home. Storage costs will also decrease, employees no longer need to worry about using physical files, as storage can be processed via a cloud solution, this saves on filing cabinets, desk storage, paper, mailing costs to employees etc.
Employers cannot directly manage employee's activities in person, without this level of control, those who are new to home working may find they will procrastinate easily. A typical solution for this is to set up conference and group calls at different times throughout the day to track employee's progress.
Certain employees may work too little, others may burn out. When home working, employees no longer have a detachment from their workspace and their home, this can either lead to too many distractions like cooking or playing games/watching TV. Workers who burn out may disregard their hours due to there being nowhere to clock in/out or open up and lock up at the end of the day, this can leave employees working at unsociable times, or perhaps, working too many hours in the day. A viable solution for this could be a virtual portal that remains open between their usual working hours, employees who would prefer to finish certain tasks outside these hours may then do so at their employer's discretion, and therefore remain logged into the worker's portal.
The first step to arranging any home working is to ensure you know what equipment your employees need, and working out whether your staff can carry out the same work rate from home as opposed to in the office. Consider your options in terms of setting up your online cloud network, Skype for business meetings, providing your staff with a setup that complements their desk at work. Will they need faster internet, a new router? Perhaps their PC at home isn't as powerful as their work one and you need help relocating their office equipment to save on costs.
Homeworking requires a positive and trusting mindset, and if implemented correctly, can be a huge cost-saving tool for your business, and will almost certainly improve your employee's social lives and work ethic.