Remote work offers a lengthy list of benefits for many companies. There is the increased flexibility of your team being able to work wherever, whenever possible, plus the potential for decreased overhead if you decide to forego office space altogether. However, it comes at the cost of increased demands on your IT network.
When employees are scattered in various locations their only means of communication are digital. Whether that’s video chatting on Microsoft Teams or collaborating on a shared document, remote work at its best should be as easy as sitting in a room with your team brainstorming on the same whiteboard. A poorly maintained network could mean the difference between a phone call and waiting for a letter via the Pony Express.
The key to this is ensuring you have a plan for how employees will connect, communicate and collaborate, so they aren’t left to determine that for themselves. When employees are forced to find their own individual solutions, you’re left with daisy chain fixes that work sporadically and may be leaving your business data vulnerable to a multitude of unauthorized apps, based on each employees preference. Listed below are the suggested bases that each company should have covered in order to fully support it’s remote work force.
Data Storage and Security:
Determine how you will store your data moving forward. If you’re sticking to an onsite server, you’ll need to establish a fast, safe, and reliable connection for employees to access that server information such as a VPN, a secure network connection from the user’s computer to your server. Equally as important is firewall protection and strong antivirus across your network, as well as regular monitoring of these systems to ensure any threats are recognized quickly and remedied.
This is especially true when utilizing a BYOD (bring your own device) model. It’s a tempting structure for many companies due to the decreased costs, but when mixing personal and work devices you have much less control over the device itself, therefore the means of connection has to be particularly secure.
An alternative is moving to cloud storage. Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive offer the ability for companies to store data and access it from wherever they are. These tools provide your team with an efficient workflow without compromising security.
When employees run into pain points in their daily workflow, the tendency is to find their own solution. Whether that’s a productivity app that they love or a sharing and storage service they use personally, each new application introduced to your business environment is an opportunity for your data to be compromised if not implemented carefully.
It’s important to regularly check in and make sure the tools offered and authorized by your company are serving the needs of your employees, allowing them to be their most productive selves. This may mean investing in one or more tools for your team, or just doing your due diligence to vet an app before allowing employee use. Coupled with clear guidelines about how company data can and cannot be distributed, these procedures will be crucial when your data is being regularly accessed from all over the state, country, or world.
Promote company culture
The easiest aspect of work life to suffer when utilizing strictly remote employees is team camaraderie. As important as it is to ensure your team has the tools they need to be productive and secure in their work, it’s equally as important for them to have the means to connect with their coworkers even when they don’t see each other in-person every day. Encourage group chats, Team Channels that are just for fun like cooking recipes or vacation pictures. Strong company culture is key to maintaining employees long term and even though it doesn’t come quite as naturally with remote working, it isn’t impossible to achieve.
As with any business decision, choosing a remote work environment or an in-person structure is all about tradeoffs. There will ultimately be pros and cons to both, but with the right planning and investment in infrastructure, your business will be successful.