At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses did a fantastic job of getting, or simply keeping, themselves up and running, by putting the basic tools in place for remote working.
But wouldn’t it be great to ensure that your business isn’t just surviving, but thriving, with the tools to work productively in the long-term?
Here’s a few ways to ensure your employees are set up and empowered to work remotely, and happily, for the foreseeable future.
Businesses have quickly got up to speed with the essentials of working remotely, which start with a laptop and internet connection. But it’s now worth reassessing, and refining, home set-ups.
Employees may have used their own personal laptops or smartphones initially. However, supplying staff with professional devices can improve data security
From an equipment perspective, providing staff with a monitor, mouse and separate keyboard can prevent backache and posture problems in the long run, which will maintain employee wellbeing
Poor internet connectivity might seem a minor annoyance at first, but over time this can hinder productivity. Products like Business Mobile Broadband, which provides access to WiFi using Vodafone’s 5G and 4G networks, can provide more reliable connectivity for everyone in your team
And critically, you should ensure that everyone has the cybersecurity basics in place, to keep data and systems safe
The best way to learn what your staff are missing is to speak to them directly. This way you can understand where the gaps are and come up with a plan to fix them.
Equally, it’s now worth revisiting your remote business processes to consider which functions are working well and which could improve.
Speaking with managers and conducting whole-company surveys can help to provide insight and potential solutions.
Where there are challenges, consider: is it a communication problem? Could we make better use of the technology we have or do we need new tools? Are there other ways we could be supporting staff productivity and engagement?
This can help to inform planning for the months ahead, especially as teams begin to return to the office.
IT issues are bound to be more common with a remote workforce, partly because everyone’s set-up will be slightly different. Optimising your remote technical support can help to maximise the resources of the IT team:
Create a set of resources addressing the most common remote working issues, as a first port of call for employees
Encourage and support staff in trying to address issues themselves by explaining fixes
Where support is needed from an IT team member, use a remote connection tool to implement fixes directly
Consider running a drop-in session once a week, for staff to discuss the “less urgent” IT issues that might be hindering productivity
As a business, you might be reaching a point where you’re onboarding new employees – or perhaps someone joined just as we were moving to remote working. And although it’s difficult when you can’t meet in person, there are ways to streamline the process and ensure team members get what they need.
Create a checklist of key equipment so you can easily assess what new staff have – and what they need
Organise a 30-minute “remote working induction session”, to bring new starters up to speed on the set-up and talk them through your systems
Remember that using cloud-based information sharing tools, like Microsoft 365, can make it easier to point new staff to the information they need – rather than emailing multiple attachments
Ensure you provide links to online training for your key apps – most software vendors have a trove of resources
Communication tools can be powerful for both collaboration and maintaining a strong company culture.
Virtual coffee breaks, “kitchen chats” with people outside your direct team and even company socials can help to keep everyone positive and engaged.
Learn more about the tools and practices that can keep your team engaged and productive in our next article, maintaining productivity with a remote workforce.
Remote working has been made a necessity for many businesses. But it can offer greater flexibility, creativity and convenience, if implemented in the right way.
Taking the time to reassess remote working patterns now will support business continuity as we navigate the ‘new normal’ and continue to benefit organisations in the future.
Explore more on how connectivity and collaboration can improve the wellbeing of your workforce and maximise productivity.