Remote work is a strategy that offers a host of benefits for businesses. It gives employees the flexibility to work anywhere, increases productivity, and reduces costs associated with commutes and office upkeep. Plus, given Australia’s recent run-ins with natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic, letting employees work in safe environments is more crucial than ever.
To fully enjoy the benefits of remote working, you must first take the following steps to ensure your business is ready for it.
1. Consider work environment safety
When employees want to work remotely, their work environment must have:
Sufficient ventilation and thermal comfort
First aid kits on premises
Zero clutter and tripping hazards
Safety equipment for power outages, fires, and floods
2. Make sure employees have reliable internet access
Employees must have a fast and stable internet connection if they want to work remotely. This means they need to:
Run a speed test to check for any internet connectivity issues.
Deploy modern Wi-Fi routers with 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless frequencies to support various internet-connected devices.
Update router firmware to resolve performance bugs and connectivity issues.
Install Wi-Fi routers in a central location, unobstructed by brick walls, metal objects, and microwaves.
Sign up for a National Broadband Network (NBN) plan that meets your company’s bandwidth requirements.
Opt for Telstra 5G/Optus 5G or a fast 4G mobile broadband plan if NBN coverage is unreliable.
3. Equip staff with the bare essentials
To create a fully functioning home office, employees need the right hardware equipment such as:
Laptop PCs that run the latest patches, anti-malware software, and operating systems (OS). Depending on how you mobilise your employees, they may need lighter, more compact models.
Power adaptors to prevent potential power surges that may damage computer circuits.
Headsets with a reliable microphone for hands-free calls.
Webcams that can stream high-resolution videos for face-to-face meetings and video conferences.
Other peripheral devices employees may require like scanners, printers, and external hard drives.
4. Install advanced phone systems
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems allow users to make and receive calls from anywhere with an internet connection. Rolling it out requires you to:
Evaluate the VoIP features you need (e.g., call forwarding, automated attendants, voicemail, software integrations).
Install the latest version of 3CX Phone Systems on your servers and employee devices.
Provide VoIP handsets for users who need rich telephony features.
5. Set up cloud collaboration tools
In addition to hardware, an effective remote work strategy requires powerful cloud-based apps to facilitate communication and collaboration. Here are a few cloud solutions we recommend:
Office 365 – a cloud service in which users can share files, manage emails, and work with colleagues on web-based versions of Microsoft productivity apps like Word and Excel
Microsoft Teams – a team communication platform that comes with instant messaging, HD voice calls, and video conferencing
OneDrive for Business – a cloud storage platform where remote workers can keep their files in a secure and centralised location
Asana – a project management tool where users can chart the team’s workflow, create shared to-do lists, and set project deadlines
6. Protect data and remote workers from cyberattacks
Remote work brings new security challenges, largely because keeping tabs on personal devices outside the company network is difficult. Also, without a way to monitor user activity, employees may inadvertently expose company data to a wide array of threats. To protect your business, here’s what you need to do:
Enable a second authentication factor (2FA) on top of passwords like one-time SMS codes, fingerprint scans, or facial recognition.
Have users connect to a virtual private network (VPN) to hide web activity especially if they’re using public Wi-Fi.
Use remote desktop services so users can establish a secure connection to the corporate network.
Set access restrictions based on job roles, devices, and locations to prevent data leaks or unauthorised access to sensitive information.
Utilise mobile device management apps to remotely monitor user activity and wipe devices in case they’re lost or stolen.
Install fully updated anti-malware software on employee devices to detect and prevent malicious programs.
7. Sync up with remote teams
It’s tough to coordinate teams and oversee projects when you and your staff have limited contact. However, there are strategies to stay on the same page with employees and manage workflows effectively:
Establish the best channels for communication. For example, video conferencing may be ideal for daily sync-ups but instant messaging is better for more urgent situations.
Schedule regular calls with employees so you can check in on their progress and provide managerial support if necessary. Provide company updates and announcements through Microsoft Teams.
Use shared calendars in Office 365.
Automate employee monitoring with project management and time tracking apps.
Promote non-work-related conversations to compensate for the lack of face-to-face interactions.
How Empower IT can help
There’s a lot to consider when starting a remote work policy, but Empower IT Solutions can simplify all this for you. Our support engineers can roll out the necessary IT infrastructure and technology to get your staff quickly set up. We provide teleconferencing tools, network optimisation, hardware, cloud subscriptions, remote desktop support, and holistic cybersecurity services. The best part is our remote working services can be adapted to meet your company’s needs and budget. Contact us now to mobilise your workforce.