The pandemic has brought all sorts of changes to businesses around the world. Over the course of the past year and a half, almost every business, no matter what field or industry you operate in, has had to make significant changes to operations to get by.
Many businesses have collapsed. Many have had to make staff redundant. Many have had to implement new modes of working to comply with government implemented social distancing and social isolation guidelines. In short, the coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic – and the rules put in place to slow the spread of the virus – have really changed business priorities and have been a major challenge to overcome.
As we see vaccines being rolled out around the world, many of us are anticipating a return to normality. But for many of us, maintaining a remote workforce could be part of the new normal. Why? Well, when you have a remote workforce, you can save a whole lot of money.
Rather than forking out for commercial property rent, overheads such as bills, and other costs associated with running an office, many have found that staff work just as well from home without any of these expenses. Of course, if you’re going to save costs by switching to a permanently remote workforce, you’re going to need to make sure that you still maintain a good work-life for all involved. Here are some steps that can see your business experience continued success on a cost-effective, remote work basis.
Provide IT Solutions
If your staff are working from home, they’re going to be working digitally. Most tasks can now be carried out on computers, laptops, tablets and even smartphones. So, your staff are going to be spending a whole lot more time online. This means that you also have to provide comprehensive IT solutions to ensure that all your staff members’ devices and systems are working well and to resolve problems when they fail. You should have a good IT department, or outsource to out of house IT support options, so that your team always has someone to contact about any technical issues they’re having. Remote access can allow these professionals to correct issues no matter where your staff are working from. You’ll also want to make sure that everything on your website, such as click4assistance live support chat, contact forms, sales buttons and more, are all working to ensure sales. IT can come in useful here too, resolving any online issue.
Provide Quality Devices and Software
The better the software and devices you provide your team with, the more streamlined their working process will be. A team who can work efficiently are going to prove much more cost productive than a team whose devices are constantly blue screening and losing data. Sure, investing in quality equipment and software may seem like a big outlay to start with, but it will quickly pay for itself and you’ll find that your team is able to get a whole lot more work done in less time. This is an area where quality really does count. In regards to software, you may even want to consider having some custom software developed. This will cater to your staff members’ exact needs and ensure that they can do everything their job role requires of them in a succinct and accurate way. If you are ever in doubt as to which devices will be best, it’s always a good idea to read some reviews and see what others have to say. When choosing software, the same rule applies. If you’re opting for custom software development, reviews can give you insight into a developer’s competency as well as their service.
Of course, operating on a remote basis can save costs in regards to general outgoings. But you’ll quickly find that those savings are spent again if you fail to invest in the prevention of cybercrime. Throughout the pandemic, cybercriminals have worked extra hard to scam small businesses. They are well aware that increasing numbers of companies are going remote and that staff members are particularly vulnerable if they haven’t received the right cybersecurity training. Many are hedging their bets on your staff not having received training and will be targeting them to try to gain a way into your company and its data. Don’t leave your business vulnerable to cyber attacks. Make sure that your staff have plenty of knowledge in what cyber criminals do and what to watch out for. This can prevent your staff from being vulnerable targets and can minimise your chances of losing money and damaging your reputation through security breaches. The best thing to do is to implement regular cybersecurity training and the implementation of cybersecure systems. Some key ares to focus on are outlined below.
Train Staff in Cybersecurity – the first step you need to take is training your staff in cybersecurity. This will give them insight into criminal porcesses and can help to make them aware of potential threats, such as phishing emails. The easier they can recognise these threats, the less likely they are to fall for them, compromising your business’ security.
Offer a VOIP Phone System – staff still need to talk to each other from home, but avoid allowing them to use standard calls for this. Instead, offer a VOIP phone system. This stands for voice over internet protocol and is a form of online telecommunications system that staff can use to securely call others within the business, using a secure internet connection. Believe it or not, it’s a much more secure option than using their own phones or other devices to contact one another, clients, or others outside of the business.
Provide Devices – you don’t want staff working from their own devices, which could be compromised or unsecure. Instead, provide your staff with devices to work from, whether that’s computers, laptops or smartphones. This way, you can ensure that they are using a firewall and other protective software, as it will already be installed on the device and automatically updated on their behalf.
Of course, when your staff are working from home, it’s easy for them to become unproductive. They don’t have a manager over their shoulder keeping an eye on what they’re doing. Of course, the majority will stick to their work, but a few may need you to check in every so often to ensure that they’re keeping up to speed and managing their workflow well.
This is important in terms of ensuring your team feels supported too. We’re living in a time where people are feeling more isolated than ever.
You’ll likely find that many of your staff members may not be spending time with their loved ones, they may not be able to engage in the social activities they usually would and they may not be able to do many of the things that they’d usually like to do. Levels of boredom, loneliness, and other negative emotions are sky-high.
Checking in can help to maintain a positive mindset that will keep your staff mentally and emotionally well, as well as ensuring productivity. It really is important that you make the effort to maintain communication with your staff on both a personal and professional level.
Check-in on them. Ensure that managers check in on them. Send out emails to the entire company mailing list to let them know that they have a support network surrounding them – try to include resources that can help them, as well as contacts to reach out to if they need.
Make sure to set KPIs and deadlines so that staff knows what is expected of them and so that their performance can be measured. If necessary, invest in chat software that allows more casual communications between teams. Microsoft Teams tends to be an option favored by the majority of businesses.
Maintain Team Spirit
Of course, it will be harder for staff to bond when working from home. They might not have the face to face contact or chit chat that they usually would in the office. This is where online team building activities can come into play.
Team building activities help to create a positive sense of team spirit, breaking the ice between employees who may not have met before and encouraging interdepartmental communication, which can prove essential to problem-solving in the workplace. There are countless ways to implement team-building activities into your workers’ regime.
You can undertake small, daily activities, or you could arrange a longer session, dedicating half a day or a full day to team games, puzzles, and quizzes. These can be carried out over video calls, such as Microsoft Teams video or Zoom.
As you can see, going remote can save you a lot of money. But you are going to have to put some work into ensuring that it runs smoothly.
Hopefully, some of the above advice will help to get your remote working venture off to the best start possible.