Liza Armstrong, Hertfordshire Growth Hub
Making Remote Working Sustainable for Your Business
During the period 9 April to 20 April 2020 45% of adults in employment said they had worked from home at some point according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Opinions and Lifestyles Survey (OPN).
The initial upheaval and the ensuing teething problems with remote working have, for many, started to ease. Many businesses promptly managed to provide their employees with the hardware required to work from home. In the early phase of remote working, it was important to ensure that employees felt connected with colleagues, customers and suppliers.
With social distancing measures set to continue for the foreseeable future, you may be looking for further technology solutions that enable your business to do more than just communicate while working remotely. Perhaps now is the time to adjust to the new way of life and get your team back on track with projects and tasks that had been set aside, understandably, while everyone adjusted to the situation.
But how can you achieve this, when your team, which is normally office-based, are now all at home?
There is a range of technology platforms that may provide the solution for team working, innovating and enabling creativity. Finding one which works for your business will depend on your budget, number of employees and industry.
The suggestions below should not be viewed as recommendations but merely a starting point in your research to find which platform might work for your business. Many platforms offer free trials so do take advantage of this to ensure that you invest wisely.
Software such as Trello and Basecamp could offer a solution for team collaboration. Trello is an easy to use project management tool that enables colleagues to work on projects providing a virtual ‘to-do list’ or whiteboard solution. Users can create lists and drag and drop ‘cards’ to set and organise tasks. Basecamp 3, continues to be a popular web-based solution for teams where collaboration is important. It also has features such as real time ‘chat’ and ‘campfire’, which allows for group chats. You can upload files and assign and track tasks.
If you run events or you are planning to start, then a move to investing in video conferencing technology could be a worthwhile investment. But this technology is equally as valuable for checking in with your employees, hosting team meetings and communicating with your suppliers and customers.
Zoom has witnessed a huge growth in subscriptions since lockdown and has also had its fair share of press coverage over privacy concerns. Zoom offers the technology to carry out video meetings, conferencing and webinars. Depending on the package you purchase, multiple presenters can be supported, which is similar to another product, WebinarJam. Like Zoom, WebinarJam allows you to record webinars and transition from slides to video.
In addition to the challenges of finding the right technology and managing your teams remotely, factors such as privacy and security must also continue to be a consideration.
Data protection is always a concern when employees work remotely. So now, more than ever before, there are certain measures that your business should take to ensure that you don’t experience a data breach. These include updating policies on using personal equipment, keeping software up to date, setting strong passwords and using only approved technology. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has produced Ten Top Tips on How to Work from Home Securely. Visit the ICO website for more information.
Remote working brings its own set of cyber security challenges. Video conferences, especially, require consideration around security. Both the National Security Cyber Centre (NSCC) and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) have produced guidance for organisations on how to secure their video conferences.
Trading Standards has also launched a campaign ‘Businesses Against Scams’, in direct response to more people working from home than ever before due to COVID-19. They cite factors such as increased stress, less colleague interaction and a different working environment as the factors that criminals are exploiting to commit fraud.
For Hertfordshire businesses with up to ten employees, free Cyber Security Reviews are available. Funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council.