While the response to the coronavirus grows, and more private and public sectors are having to shutter their public operations and avoid large groups at work, the need for employees to work remotely becomes immediate. For most of their staff, the remote location of choice is at home, but they can’t always do that. This means that you will need to take a proactive and flexible approach to working outside of the office, and you should work fast.
Your first step is to identify who can work remotely, who can’t, and who should work on site if possible. The obvious step would seem to be that anyone with an office job can work at home, but that’s not necessarily the case. You may find that compliance requirements prevent this, or security requirements won’t let certain job functions work in unsecured areas.
When you run a test of your business continuity plan, you’re certain to find out that not everything works as you think it should. There will be employees who don’t have adequate internet access, some that don’t have computers that meet the requirements for your software and possibly a few that don’t have an adequate workspace.
In addition to making sure you have adequate internet access, you also need to make sure you have the proper number of VPN licenses. The number of remote users will expand when everyone is working from home. Fortunately, with cloud applications becoming common, fewer employees will need VPN access for those applications, but VPNs may still need to be available for users who need to have access to the company network.
Telephony can’t be overlooked since it’s vital to the functioning of your company. Someone has to be able to answer your company’s main phone number when it’s called, so provisions need to be made so that can happen.
This is particularly an issue with meetings using a videoconferencing application such as Zoom, WebEx or Google Hangouts. For example, people need to make sure their cameras are turned on because their body language helps make the meeting run better. There needs to be an explicit agenda for online meetings, and someone appointed to take notes to be shared with everyone.
But such meetings only work well when you’ve taken the time to train your employees in the proper use of the software so that when they need to know how to use a feature such as screen sharing, they can do it.
What you may find, as some companies have already, is that working from home, once you get it figured out for your company, can actually lead to increased productivity.
For this sort of success to happen, your managers need to learn to trust their staff to do their jobs even when they’re not being constantly watched. Fortunately, there are a number of monitoring packages, , that can let you see what your employees are doing, even if they’re at home. Now, you may have no choice but to trust your staff, if only because working from home may be about to become mandatory.