CONSIDERATIONS WHEN TAKING YOUR OFFICE... HOME
Technology problems are irritating at the best of times, but when you're a small or medium business and your staff have to work from home, they can often be more than just an inconvenience. They can impact productivity and cost your business money.
If their internet connection isn’t working properly, or their computer suddenly starts installing updates just as they're about to log on for an important call, these tech issues can have a serious impact on their work performance.
Without an IT department in the building to help them out, it can be difficult to know how to keep things running smoothly whenever they might run into these types of problems.
Thankfully, there are a few measures your business can take to help ensure that your staff's work won’t suffer if their technology ever lets them down when they’re away from the office.
BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR TECH REQUIREMENTS
If you or your any of your staff are working outside the office on a regular basis, it’s important to ensure that everyone has the right software and equipment to begin with.
A good place to set out your technology requirements is to create a home working policy.
Things you might want to cover could include:
- Backup devices – do people need to have any additional devices to use in an emergency (e.g. a spare computer or tablet)?
- Bandwidth requirements – what is the minimum connection speed people will need to have? This is especially important to consider for things like video calls
- Do they have a backup option for their internet connection (e.g. should they be prepared to use their phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot)?
USE APPS THAT CAN WORK ON MOBILE DEVICES
To allow your team to work from home and not be confined to one space or device, it’s a good idea to use apps that can work on mobile devices and that are also secure.
These could include email apps, team collaboration software, or other industry specific tools – anything that doesn’t require logging into a remote desktop.
By using mobile apps, people can communicate while they’re on the move or if any problems arise with their main device.
DISCOURAGE THE USE OF DOCUMENTS STORED AS PERSONAL FILES
Storing files on personal hard drives is not recommended when working from home. Transparency is an important part of working from home, so it’s not ideal if some of your documents are stored on your personal devices where nobody can access or share them.
Instead, you can use cloud storage systems to prevent access problems or progress being lost due to computers crashing. There are a host of collaborative software tools that also allow your team to share documents in real-time, meaning you can avoid having multiple versions of the same file or emailing comments and suggestions back and forth.
ESTABLISHING CLEAR SECURITY AND PRIVACY GUIDELINES
Issues around security and privacy are all the more important if you’re working outside of the office. You should establish clear guidelines with anyone who is working from home to ensure that your business data doesn’t get lost or put at risk of exposure.
In an office environment, all computers tend to be centralised so confidential information is generally secure. But when you’re working from home, there are a number of security measures employers can take to prevent any data breaches.
These could include:
- Using a password manager to store and generate random passwords, and keeping passwords hidden when logging into a network
- Installing antivirus software
- Using a tracking blocker or VPN
- Encrypting emails
- Using secure networks instead of public
- Keeping business assets secure (e.g. company laptops or phones)
- Combatting data security/GDPR issues through encrypting hard drives
- Not using public computers