Working-from-home is not a new concept to many businesses. However, there are still many businesses that do not possess the right processes and structure to allow their employees to work-from-home efficiently. Many employers are worried that their employees are unfocused and unable to deliver results when they are away from the office. This worry is an unfounded one, as it has been proven statistically that employees are more productive when they are working from home. With the new normal, working from home will be the new way of life for most businesses even post-COVID. It is therefore important that businesses adopt and embrace this new working style and make it part of their corporate culture. We have been supporting our clients for years and have helped many move their operations from the office to home.
Rather than relying on trust, which is rather difficult if the employee is fairly new to the company, employers should put in place proper processes and measurements to make employees accountable for their performance despite working from home.
One such method is is to conduct regular appraisals to set out the KPIs required. Monthly or weekly catch-up calls reaffirm the expected targets that the department heads are responsible for achieving This way, both employer and employees can have the assurance and understanding that they are working towards the same vision and goals. Businesses should focus on results rather than judge an employee based on the number of hours put in. Most industries should be able to adopt such methods if there are not in a service industry e.g. F&B, healthcare or brick-and-mortar business.
Another challenge that businesses face is the alteration of the technological structure of their business. Companies will need to invest in work-from-home solutions such as laptops, security software, cloud solutions and digitalisation solutions in order for them to function just like they would in a physical workplace. Technology investments will require an upgrade every 4 to 5 years and it would be a good time for companies to adopt new solutions during that time, be it a good cloud solution that fits the business or new laptops instead of desktops for their users for the flexibility of remote working. The company will need to consider how their users access data, collaborate and yet be protected sufficiently while performing work tasks from home.
Below are four considerations that can help small businesses to achieve the structure they need to make it work:
1. Laptops – A device with adequate specifications to allow users to perform necessary work is critical. It can be frustrating to deal with a slow computer while working from home, without access to IT support unlike when in the office. In order for employees to be productive while working from home, it is crucial to consider this point when building up a work-from-home environment. An ideal laptop should have at least 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD to start with minimally, increasing the specifications according to the employee’s job scope.
2. Data – Employers need to consider where they are storing their data and how to collaborate with other team members while working from home. There are many public cloud storage providers out there like. Google Drive, Dropbox and One Drive. Alternatively,companies might want to consider purchasing private cloud storage e.g. Synology or Qnap if they have sensitive data . Once the cloud data storage has been selected, the next consideration would be backing up the data. Most companies would think that the public cloud storage company chosen provides sufficient backup, but that is untrue. It depends on the plan selected and adherence to the company’s compliance levels. Certain companies need to maintain a number of backup copies for a certain period of time. The restore process is also critical – you would not want to wait days to restore your data. Most clients prefer using private cloud storage because they can have the flexibility of having more backup copies, more storage space and lower costs in the long run as compared to paying for individual user licenses.
3. Security – This is one of the most important factors. As the structure gets decentralised with users working from home, it is important to have certain level of monitoring on the health of their equipment as well as ensuring that security patches and updates are applied on time. A monitoring solution such as NuMonitor allows clients to achieve that goal speedily. Other solutions to consider is a proper email filtering software like Green Radar to filter out spam, phishing emails, and emails with malicious links. This can help to eliminate security risks originating from emailss. Lastly, a reputable antivirus and malware protection with a corporate portal to monitor the status is a must.
4. Cloud Solutions – Be it CRM, accounting software or ERP systems, it is important that users can still perform work functions while outside the office. Being on the cloud means that it is accessible via any device over the Internet.
The solution can be hosted on a server on premise or can be on the provider’s end, depending on whether the company has sensitive information and backup requirements. These systems will need to be integrated to minimise the need for users to export and import data into another system. This can be overcome by using APIs most of the time now. As systemisation isa complex process, it is important that companies hire a professional for it. A good project manager will be able to walk through the whole process and ensure that companies don’t make the costly but common mistake of experiencing software implementation failure. 90% of the time, software implementation fails if the company does not have a dedicated project manager or insufficient resources.
A managed IT outsourced team will be the communication bridge between software developers and end-users, to handle the complicated back-end and simplify it for everyday users to create an effective remote working system.
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