Establish Your Remote Workforce
In light of recent events, many companies and management staff have been looking for alternative ways for their employees to have access to their data, networks, and security from home.
COVID-19 aside: you may want to have options for your staff regardless. More and more, some of the top companies and even smaller businesses are offering the option to work remotely. Not only does this save on costs such as office space, supplies, and utilities; but it can also work as a leverage to maintain staff when other businesses may be able to offer higher pay or better health plans.
If you are interested in offering this to your staff, management staff, or maybe limited and trustworthy employees: let’s take a look at what equipment you may need and how to get started.
Make sure that your communication methods are solid and that conferencing software doesn’t always take the lead on how to talk with each other.
Have conferencing software available, but make sure all staff has several ways to communicate like Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or Slack.
If you are using a VOIP system, make sure your staff has the ability to forward to their cell phones, and set up appropriate voicemail responses.
Have a plan for who is handling what production and who your staff should contact. This should already be in place, but if your chain of command or communication methods aren’t sound, you may have some frustrated remote employees.
Pro Tip: Make clear rules about how communication should occur! For instance email is reserved for tasks that are expected to be done in the future and contacting several staff members. Messaging should be used for immediate requests or tasks. Phone calls are reserved for conversations of highest importance or tasks that can’t be explained in text.
Equipment and Software
Don’t skimp on your laptops. Make sure that you provide your staff with rugged laptops that will have some speed, so they can be as productive as possible. For business use, we recommend the ThinkPad line from Lenovo.
If your staff normally requires two monitors, consider providing them with laptop docks and a spare monitor at home.
As far as software for remote staff is concerned, there are tons to look through for your specific needs, such as:
Using a tracking software like ActivTrak or Time Doctor can help you determine which software is being utilized and which can go by the wayside. It can also help you spot underperforming staff members. ActivTrak even has a free version for up to 3 employees.
The biggest threat you may face by having remote staff members will likely be keeping your network and computers secure. Setting a clear “Computer Use Policy” will help, but implementing the proper security measures will save you in the long run.
Consider which option works better for you: VPN or Remote Software. Either setup a secure VPN access to your network, or go with remote software such as TeamViewer or ConnectWise Control.
Make sure you have endpoint security installed on each laptop, and possibly talk with your local MSP about managed IT services.
As always, consistent security education and training helps tremendously.
Be Available for Your Staff
This may be the most important tip to managing remote staff members.
Make sure you are just as available to them as you would be within the office. Remote work can lead to new bumps in the road, but if you make yourself and other management available, you can possibly keep your employees happy and productive.
Of course this means you have to be knowledgable of your software and communication methods, so stay educated.
What programs and usage policies are you using in your remote work environment?