With the increasing concerns around COVID-19, businesses all over the UK have been scrambling to create and put in place a remote working strategy. Most businesses already have some users able to work remotely, but enabling your entire team to work from home creates a whole heap of new challenges. Besides the everyday cyber threats and IT issues your staff usually have, there are even more things to consider outside of a monitored work environment. Employers are asking, what is the best way to make sure staff have the tools to work from home? What do we need to put in place to make sure communication is easy? How can I support a healthy and productive remote working set-up?
If you have any of these concerns, read on to find out How To Be More Productive When Working From Home.
Add a 2nd Screen
Our first piece of advice may seem simple, but the reason many users had dual-screen setups in the office is to increase productivity. So why not do the same at home?
Almost every modern laptop can handle connecting a second monitor… you just need to ensure you have the space for it at home. And you don’t even need to spend anything – simply take one from your desk at work (not like you are going to be needing it there in the short term at least).
The other issue with laptops is the smaller screen size – but connect to a 24 or 27″ monitor and you’ll have a much better user experience as well as being more productive.
Make Sure You Have The Right Device
All employees should be provided a company laptop if working from home. The benefit to staff working using company devices is that these can be set up with security measures as well as any software used in the business.
Although it may be expensive to provide laptops to all staff, company devices can also ensure that staff have the right spec hardware that they need to get any work done.
Where this is not possible, you must take additional steps to ensure their own personal computer or laptop does not introduce any security issues to your business.
It’s also important for staff to keep their device secure by using their work device only for work.
Non-business related activities, such as checking personal email, introduces the risk of cyber attacks. With phishing still the biggest cyber risk, all it takes is for someone to click on a single link in an email to put your business at risk.
Bottom line – don’t use company PCs, devices, phones or Internet for personal use.
If You Need Remote Access To Computers
If you use any on-premise line of business applications, or store data locally on your network, you probably need a method of getting secure access to computers remotely. Here’s are a few ways we would recommend:
- Off-The-Shelf Solution – If staff have to use personal devices, then products such as Team Viewer or LogMeIn would be suitable, providing you use paid for service and not the free version, as this is not licensed for commercial use. With this option, there will be product expenses as well as labour expenses for your IT provider.
- VPN with Remote Desktop – more technical to setup, this provides a secure connection between home computer and business network, which allows the user to take control and operate their work computer as if they were sitting right in front of it. Please note, Home versions of Windows DO NOT include Remote Desktop Client – so you will still have to buy a company laptop. This option is probably the most expensive, with hardware costs as well as IT resource costs.
- Remote Access via CyberCare – our CyberCare product includes the ability for staff to login via our secure portal (it has Multi-Factor Authentication MFA), and get remote access to their work computer. Since this is already set-up and configured, there are no additional hardware costs. This is the most cost efficient way for your business to work remotely.
Keep in mind that while working remotely, the business PC that will be accessed still needs to be turned on for remote access to be possible. This means it still depends on the network and power of your office.
Of course the best advice is to always consult with your IT Manager or IT company to get the right solution for your business.
Have A Reliable File Sharing Solution In Place
A key element of remote working success is the ability to not only access, but share and collaborate on files. With cloud solutions such as Microsoft SharePoint, users don’t have to download sensitive data onto their devices to be able to work on them – keeping your company data that much safer.
Staff also have the ability to work on the same document at the same time – great for teams that work on the same files and projects.
Increase Your Communication
A common concern we have heard amongst business owners is how to make sure communication is smooth and instant. The general advice is to keep communication short and frequent, as it would be if you were having a quick chat in the office.
Thanks to instant messaging applications such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, this can be a stress-free process. If you have Office 365 for your business, Microsoft Teams may already be part of your Office 365 package. These solutions can also be used to make voice and video calls, for times when typing isn’t the most effective way to communicate – they also have mobile apps.
With video calls, managers can also check in with employees to make sure everyone is ready for the day, and if anyone has any red flags, they can raise their hand.
Talk to your IT provider about setting up Microsoft Teams as part of your remote working strategy.
Look After No. 1
Working from home is going to be a new experience for a lot of people due to coronavirus. Without the structure of an office environment, it can easy for people to fall out of good work habits. Keep these points in mind when working remotely:
- Make sure you have good lighting in your work space, so that you don’t strain your eyes while working.
- Try to have a designated work area, so that you can leave that space whenever you would have your usual breaks if you were at work.
- Work from a desk if possible – The strain from slouching over a laptop can result in back pain. And make sure you have a proper chair with arm rests and back adjustment.
- Listen to classical music – classical music has been proven to improve cognitive performance (read more here) , and it will also give you a bit of background noise rather than a distracting TV.
- Don’t forget to take your lunch, and have it away from your work space. As easy as it is to forget on a busy day, make it a priority.
- Use a laptop stand – looking down at a laptop for hours is another reason why you might get neck or back pain while working at home for a while. A stand like this one from Amazon is a great example of something that could make working from home a lot more comfortable.
- Take a walk – in the office it can be common to have to walk a bit to get to toilets, the kitchen, or to go and speak with a colleague. At home everything is much closer, and so you will have to be conscious of making the point of getting up and walking about more.
Track Jobs and Projects
If you worry about the efficiency of working from home for yourself and your employees, a project management tool is a great start to tackling this. Tools, such as Asana, allow you and your staff to create to-do lists and manage projects. It’s easy to lose track of time while working remotely, and project management tools allow you to ensure you stay on track. They also allow you to assign tasks to others and create deadlines.
Asana also has a mobile app, so you can keep track on multiple devices.
Consulting With Your IT Team
In a time of uncertainty, reassure your employees and clients that you have everything under control – and that your business will continue to provide services as usual. With a remote working strategy in place, you can do exactly that. Contact an IT provider who has experience helping business with remote working.
If you are struggling to get your team working from home effectively, call us today on 01738237003.