Do you want your staff to be able to work remotely – work from home or another location? This is top of mind right now for many, but it also makes sense to consider as a normal business planning exercise. Some of the reasons to offer work from home/telework as an option include a perk to reward or recruit staff, to accommodate personal issues such as emergency childcare, traffic concerns, inclement weather, or to keep business running in the event of office closure/quarantine requirements. Think through the process and make a plan!
Enabling Telework – Resources
What resources will employees need for telework?
Most employees will require reliable, high-speed Internet, a PC, email, access to files, access to business-specific applications, and a phone.
ACTION– Make a list! Chances are not everyone needs access to all applications and files.
Accessing some business resources is easy and just need documenting – this is usually the case for email and other cloud resources. Others, such as access to local servers take more setup and planning.
ACTION– Add this information to your list and document those that are missing. Consult your IT Managed Service Provider or in-house IT staff about the best way to set up access to these additional resources.
Shared Calendars and Presence Indicators
When you can’t walk down the hall and see if someone is free you need a way to know if they are available. Shared calendars take care of some of this and the presence indicators built into a platform such as Microsoft’s Teams can be a big help.
ACTION – if you are not already using something like Teams, you may have access to it through your existing Office 365 licensing. Teams is part of both Business Premium and all Enterprise–E1/E3/E5–licensing.
Do you have an online meeting platform? (Zoom, Teams, GoToMeeting, etc.) Is your staff comfortable using it?
ACTION – if the answer is yes, make sure you document it and provide staff with this information. If not, do a quick survey and pick one. These are generally easy to use and there are free options available.
Is your software licensing set up to accommodate multiple devices? Do they have the credentials to access these resources from home? As an example, if you use Microsoft’s Office 365 for Office licensing you can install Office (Outlook, Word, Excel, etc.) on up to five (5) devices for each user.
ACTION – review your licensing and consider adding/upgrading where needed. Make sure staff knows how to use it on various devices.
If you have soft phones or IP phones it may be easy to allow staff to take them home.
ACTION – Provide direction to staff about their phones. Make sure you have a list of everyone’s home and cell phones.
Enabling Telework – Security
How secure are your corporate resources?
If you let people in, what security exposure will this create?
ACTION – consult your IT Managed Service Provider or in-house IT staff.
How secure are your staff’s remote devices
If you own the laptop they will use from home, you can make sure it is up-to-date, and have a policy that prohibits them from using it for personal tasks. If the device is owned by the employee (BYOD) that opens up another can of worms. This is not a deal breaker but a risk that needs to be evaluated and managed.
ACTION – if dedicated personal machines are not available (i.e. not used for anything else besides work), consider letting staff take their corporate-owned machine home. If this is not possible work with your IT Managed Service Provider or in-house IT staff to manage the risk by limiting the access to your corporate resources.
General Concerns about Remote Work
The following “softer issues” can be just as important as the technical ones. Make sure you take the time to consider the impact that working remotely or a quarantine will have on your staff.
Are you OK with having staff multitask? Childcare, caring for family members who are ill, taking time out for personal tasks? Be realistic, but reasonably flexible, especially in challenging times.
Daily Reports and Hours
Are you going to be flexible in terms of when they work? How are you going to track and report on their work?
How sick is too sick to work?
Make sure you are monitoring this.
Managers need to be easily available for consultation and feedback.
Consider a daily all hands call to check in with everyone, and be aware that while some people welcome the chance to work from home others really suffer when they don’t have colleagues to interact with on a daily basis.
And finally, remind your staff to be on the lookout for phishing scams. Be extra careful about clicking on links to alerts, articles, etc.! MAKE A POLICY TODAY AND UPDATE YOUR HR MANUAL
Need some help figuring out how to enable a secure remote work environment for your staff? Send us a note and we’d be glad to help!