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5 Tips to Help You Thrive in the Largest Ever Remote Work Experiment.



As the global Coronavirus pandemic has unfolded over the past several weeks, countries around the world have implemented drastic measures to slow the spread of the virus. In Canada, our public health services department encouraged workplaces to implement flexible work arrangements, including allowing employees to work from home. In the United States, both government agencies and private companies like Amazon and others have either increased remote work flexibility for their employees or outright asked them to stop coming into the office.


As a result of these changes, we’re in the middle of the largest ever remote work experiment. Tech Crunch is already reporting an increase in demand for remote work start-ups like Zoom as well as remote security and employee identification software.

For businesses without a strong remote working culture, this rapid shift toward remote work has the potential to generate significant chaos. To make things easier, we’re offering five tech tips that can help you and your business thrive in the largest ever remote work experiment.


Connect Working Teams with Video Conferencing

While many organizations have asked all their employees to work from home, some have required essential staff to continue reporting for work while those deemed “non-essential” can work remotely. This can result in project teams becoming geographically separated, which gets in the way of communication and collaboration.


Video conferencing capabilities can be an invaluable tool for maintaining communication between the office and remote workers. Without the ability to collaborate in person, employees benefit from features like screen-sharing and digital whiteboards that enable true remote collaboration. High-quality microphones with HD audio and video provide a seamless platform for employees to share ideas, solve problems and maintain productivity.


Invest in Productivity Upgrades

For employees that work from home on a regular basis, it is worthwhile to invest in productivity upgrades for the home office. We’re always surprised at how many workers benefit from a dual-monitor configuration in the office but use just a single-screen laptop to work from home.


Working from two screens (or three) has been shown to boost employee productivity by as much as 20-30%, streamlining all kinds of tasks such as data entry, drafting e-mails, research and more. Workers can also use the additional screen to monitor your office collaboration platform or video conferencing software tool.


Help Employees Create a Comfortable Home Office Space

Employees working from home should strive to create an office space that’s both safe and comfortable. An ergonomic chair with adjustable height, armrests and proper back support is essential for office workers who sit for up to 8 hours each day. External peripherals like a keyboard and cordless mouse can allow employees to feel more comfortable and work more productively throughout the day.


IT teams should be able to provide support to team members who are setting up home offices for the first time. We have heard of at least two cases in the past week where a person subscribed to home internet for the first time after being asked to work from home. Employers should strive to meet employee needs for technical assistance when transitioning to remote work.


Recognize the Value of Security

IT departments must be aware of how the security of organizational IT assets may be impacted by workers that are telecommuting. In the workplace, users rely on IT departments to maintain network and endpoint security. Remote employees are responsible for securing their own in-home networks that are used to connect to company resources, such as secure Intranet or VPN.


Employers should be proactive by providing their remote workers with instructions for maintaining security standards while working from home. For starters, remote workers should:


  1. Secure Home Wi-Fi – Make sure home routers are not set to the default password. Make sure all devices used to work from home have up-to-date antivirus installed.

  2. Active Wi-Fi Encryption – Ensure that WPA2 or WPA3 wireless encryption is activated. This prevents outsiders from reading data sent over the network.

  3. Practice Good Password Hygiene – Employees should never use the same password for multiple services and work passwords should be changed every 60-90 days.

  4. Know Where to Find Company Security Policies – Employees should know how to access company security policies that apply to them while working from home. Organizations should update these policies regularly according to the most current information and best practices.


Use Tech to Connect with, Support and Manage Employees

Video conferencing technology helps remote workers collaborate more effectively, but it can also provide an effective means for managers and team members to stay connected and support each other while they’re working remotely.


We’ve heard of managers and team leaders hosting daily meetings with remote working software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Groups of colleagues are using the same tools to organize “office lunches” for remote workers. These represent new ways of communicating that help satisfy our need for group interaction and communication, even during a time of social isolation.


Summary

As business managers and executives are increasingly directing their employees to work from home, the most successful organizations recognize the role of technology in enabling remote work. Businesses should strive to provide additional IT security and services for home-based workers while investing in audiovisual solutions that connect the home and office, drive communication and collaboration, and enhance overall productivity.