Preparing for a successful remote working procedure during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond
The reality of canceled events, restricted travel, school closures, and appropriate work procedures is setting in. With the necessity of strong public measures to hinder the exponential spread of the novel coronavirus sweeping the world, like those introduced by our own Governor Andy Beshear, many questions are left unanswered. For our team, this means potentially working remotely to support the businesses we assist daily and helping them prepare for the potential challenges of working remotely themselves.
Below you’ll find information covering various topics that might arise during a potential remote working scenario. Each of these has been either encountered by ourselves during our own remote working session or considered during continuity planning while evaluating our team’s needs.
Setting up the proper hardware
While in the office, it’s easy to take for granted the number of hardware resources available that most don’t have access to at home. From three monitor setups that increase productivity, headsets that easily allow us to communicate with team members and clients, to the network devices that provide reliable connections to the internet, hardware can make or break a successful remote work session. While most of this could be considered excess, prolonged periods of remote work will heighten these impacts and make the lack of proper tech resources more apparent.
The basic hardware everyone should have at home
A capable laptop or desktop computer
No matter how you look at it, this is the most vital necessity of a remote work session. Without a capable computer in one form or another, your employees will be struggling to achieve the results comparable to their in-office productivity.
A reliable headset with a microphone to enable easy and clear communication with clients and coworkers via VOIP services
Some team members might be able to get away with leveraging their mobile devices but a reliable headset is a huge boost to the quality-of-life when working remotely. Your voice will be clearer, the audio will be better, and it enables you to easily work on your computer with both hands while talking with a client or team member.
A webcam to enable high quality connections and more attentive attitudes during remote meeting and calls.
Most laptops will come with this one automatically and it’s certainly not a requirement. But the quality of the connections made during a call or meeting when team members or clients can visually communicate is noticeable. When team members can see that you’re distracted, you naturally become more attentive to what’s going on. Decreasing the team member’s ability to zone out, look at their phone, or watch videos when they should be engaged.
When using a laptop, get a mouse instead of using the track pad
While a trackpad works, it’s not nearly as easy to use as a mouse. This is a cheap quality-of-life upgrade and when you’re stuck using your laptop for several weeks you’ll be glad you have it.
External Hard Drives
If your company hasn’t invested in a cloud-based storage system or remote access applications, providing your team with an external hard drive will enable them to take large projects and needed files home. Plus, the added storage if/when you return to the office adds a nice layer of protection for vital assets, although proper steps should be taken, like setting up a password, to secure a hard drive in the event one is lost or stolen.
Enable your team with effective software solutions
Hardware is only part of the equation. In an event like we might soon be experiencing, where an already straining tech supply chain now faces more manufacturing delays abroad and transportation delays in the states, getting the most out of what you already have might be the best way to proceed. Luckily, we have the knowledge and experience with various telecommunication services, cloud-based products, and remote software support to get you there. Below are some options we recommend you consider.
Software that can help better enable your remote employees
Depending on the size of your organization, it’s probably too late to pursue a full VOIP setup before the necessity of remote working begins, but if you have the services listed above you have access to desktop and mobile applications that will better enable a remote working structure. With these applications properly installed, you can get your business line setup to go directly to your mobile device. Enabling uninterrupted communications with your customers and clients without changing your contact information or giving them your personal number. -If you don’t have VOIP set up for your business, it would still be worth your time to explore those options. The service provider is mainly determined by your team’s needs. If you’re a smaller shop, like a one-person CPA office or even a small 5-person web team, a hosted VOIP service like Momentum Telecom will get you connected and save you some money. When your team exceeds that number, Grandstream takes the cake in terms of both performance and cost.
Office 365 for Business
If you haven’t already made the leap to a cloud-based office platform like Office 365 now is the time. Not only will you have full access to all the tool necessary to conduct a majority of your work function like Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Excel, you’ll get access to the file storage and sharing platform OneDrive and the communication enhancing applications of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. There are few platforms that can truly provide as many overall benefits when working remotely as Office 365.
While it’s mentioned above, we also want to directly mention team communication and coordination platforms like a Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Planner.
Digital collaboration will be key while working remotely. Having an organized workflow with direct commenting capabilities like you can have on Microsoft Planner and the direct messaging and video conferencing functions(available as a premium upgrade) that are available on Microsoft Teams will help get you there. Microsoft Teams will also give you one window into the availability and activity of your workforce. While signed into Microsoft Teams you are given a busy, away, online, or offline status. The ladder could be a soft sign that someone might not be around and available like they should be. While there are better platforms that could accommodate engagement and working statuses this does enable a simple way when that isn’t highly important.
For larger businesses or even small/local ones that have placed a priority on security, now is the time to ensure your employees have set up their home connections to your business’s VPN. By preemptively setting up this connection you avoid wasted time and ensure you have access to the resources provided inside your network.
Remote Desktop Access
For team members that don’t have the capability to upload massive projects to the cloud or take all the files they need home, remote desktop access will provide a nice solution. When this is established, your home computer will act as a window to your in-office computer, providing access to all of its tools and files stored locally.
Get your plan in place as soon as possible
It’s hard to tell when more stringent restrictions will be put in place to necessitate remote working. But when it does happen, if you haven’t started thinking about your plan you’re just asking for issues. People are already actively preparing for such an event by placing hardware orders, contacting our continuity advisors, and requesting assistance with software installations and setups. The sooner you determine your needs and request the right services, platforms, and equipment the better off you will be. You’ll also have a better chance of getting everything in a timelier manner, avoiding the inevitable queue that will arise as the wave of last-second organizations trying to set everything up.
Get started today by contacting our team via the contact us form on the page linked below or by calling us directly at 502.897.7577
(PSA – The official resource for Kentucky related COVID-19 response news is kycovid19.ky.gov. Like Gov. Beshear stated, refer to this website for official announcements and information regarding the outbreak in the state)