Ah yes, having the option to work from home. A fantastic perk for the average office employee.
What used to be a one-off just a few months ago is now a government-mandated regulation. At least for the time being. We thought it would be a short-term scenario, but this new way of conducting business may be proving more desirable to many SMBs.
Let’s face it, there’s less overhead, fewer hours spent commuting, and many employees are finding a positive work/life balance. We’re proving that we are truly capable of being productive in our job even though we’re working from home.
You Don’t Have to Dress Up to Show Up
For the business owners who decide to give remote working an indefinite kick at the can, transitioning from a traditional work setting will, of course, require some adjustments. Not only by business owners, but by employees as well.
Last year, for example, staff would come together in an office setting, complete with computers, water coolers and a “9 to 5” schedule. The day was quite structured. As an employer, it was easy to keep tabs on everything and everyone. As an employee, it was easy to access information and collaborate with colleagues.
So how do you monitor productivity when you’re nowhere near your employees?
3 Steps for a Smooth Transition
Plan, plan then plan some more. To successfully transition from an in-office setting to a fully remote setting, planning is key. First, ask yourself:
- Who will be working from home, and in what roles?
- What do workers need to accomplish from home?
- What software and hardware will be required to make that happen?
- Is anyone apprehensive about working from home?
- How can I improve processes for team members working from home?
Fortunately, modern-day technology has evolved to the point where just about any type of hardware needed to work can be moved to a home-based setting. It’s not like we have to deal with AS400s the size of your living room anymore.
Depending on the scenario, you’ll need a collection of basic hardware (laptops, cell phones and tablets) for each remote worker. Whenever possible, it’s best to be consistent, making sure everyone is working with the same equipment and software. Peer support can be very helpful, especially when team members are working remotely.
Typically, if it goes without saying, I won’t say it. In this case, though, I feel the need to reiterate the importance of a strong and reliable Internet connection. Here’s what we recommend:
- Speed: 10Mbps download/2Mbps upload. This is adequate for one person in the home. Of course, considerations need to be made if there are others in the home using devices to stream Netflix, for example. That brings us to bandwidth.
- Bandwidth: This is the amount of data you’ll consume on a monthly basis. Some plans allow for unlimited bandwidth (which is great), while some are capped and could cost your employees a ton in overage fees. Depending on the technologies needed to work from home, we recommend no less than 5GB of data.
Each employee will have different needs when it comes to bandwidth and Internet speed. It all depends on how many people are in the household, how many devices each person has, and what they’ll be doing on those devices. Map this out for each employee during the planning phase.
Avoiding the Pitfalls
As with any operational changes of this magnitude, there may be pitfalls along the way. We want to help you avoid them. Here are some quick tips:
- File Transition
Argh, what a mess it is when your people can’t find what they need. File management is a complicated task in and of itself, so make sure everything is well organized before sending workers home. Most importantly, make sure everyone knows exactly where to find what they need.
It’s one thing to buy the laptop, set up the phone and load up all the software and apps needed to work from home. It’s another thing to make sure everyone knows how to use the equipment properly.
A new work environment means different employees will need different tools to effectively do their job. Whenever possible, in-person training is best, but online training will do in a pinch (assuming you’re not trying to teach someone how to do training online!).
Keeping in touch is key to ensuring your team is not only productive, but accountable. Be sure to have a plan in place for easy and affordable communication amidst the entire team. You don’t realize how often you simply wheel your chair over to your colleagues to ask a simple question until you’re alone in your home office with no one to talk to.
Now, these are just some of the high-level requirements for a successful work-from-home transition. There are a lot (I mean a LOT) of smaller details that need just as much planning.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to leave you out on the ledge to fend for yourself.
Next week we’ll be talking about all the ins and outs of setting up your team to successfully work from home. We’ll look at:
- Software options for various departments
- File storage, servers and data protection
- Phones, conferencing and video chat
- Project management and time tracking
- And so much more
So, spend this time working through the planning process and getting organized. And we’ll see you back here next week. In the meantime, if you have any questions or need assistance setting things up, give us a call – we’re always happy to help.