By Andrew McGrath, Executive Director, Commercial, Virgin Media Business
Working from home has become massively popular over the last few years. Freak weather patterns, tube strikes and volcanic ash clouds have driven home the need for a mobile workforce. The desire to keep your business going when outside interference threatens closure means that smartphones, laptops and instant messaging services are vital.
Productivity savings and tackling office overheads mean that initial doubts about giving staff remote access have been forgotten. But there are still some challenges that are stopping some businesses from making the most of it. Often it’s the connection speed or remote working tools themselves that aren’t up to scratch, but confused or inconsistent company policies can be just as frustrating.
Here are six ideas on how to make sure that remote access works for the business and the staff:
1. Remove policy gripes
When procedures are vague it can cause confusion over how often people can work from home and from who they should ask permission. Businesses should have clear guidelines that answer all possible questions from the outset. There’s no point putting technology in place that workers feel they can’t use, so it’s vital to make sure that everyone understands how and when it can be used.
2. Ensure employees aren’t disconnected
Whether it’s social or professional, communication break-down is a common concern, but one that can be easily sorted. Try encouraging your workforce to pick up the phone more, or stay in touch via instant messenger. Technology such as Presence also helps other team members identify whether a colleague is available by phone.
3. Maximise data speeds
It can be really frustrating if you’re trying to work with a slow connection and sluggish download speeds. By continually reviewing your network provider you can make sure that data transmission is as fast as possible and that you’re getting the best value for money.
4. Optimise security standards
Staff will sometimes need to access sensitive corporate information and you’ve got to make sure this can be done securely. Virtual Private Networks can ensure that when data is transmitted it is secure and protected. Even if your organisation has very tight security protocols, you can up your defences with a two-factor authentication system. With the right security barriers in place IT managers can avoid sleepless nights.
5. Try using one contact number
It’s a good idea to ensure that colleagues and customers have access to one number which is assigned for each person, whether the call goes to their mobile or desk phone. By unifying your communications, employees won’t lose touch with colleagues or customers.
6. Employee benefits package
Think about revising your benefits package to ensure that employees don’t feel out of pocket by choosing to work from home. Giving them their own laptop is a good place to start, or even providing a monthly broadband contribution can help. If the benefits are right, businesses can make cost-savings and improve flexibility for their staff.