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Remote Working: 4 Ways to Future-Proof Your IT

12-02-21

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

We have no doubt that you’ve heard this quote from Benjamin Franklin. Though overused, you can’t deny the cliché holds very true.

Although nothing could have prepared us for the pandemic and its impact on our businesses, we can begin to prepare for the future workplace.

For many, this means employees working remotely more often or businesses going remote full-time. 

The pandemic has provided the ideal proof of concept for working from home, and long term remote working in general. So much so, as we plan our returns to the office, we find ourselves asking: “Do we ever need to return to the office full time again?”. In fact, 74% of organisations plan to keep the increase in home-working after coronavirus.* 

As remote working becomes a viable option long-term, it’s more important than ever to set up a remote work strategy, and future proof an agile workforce.

While there’s much to consider, including employee wellbeing and remote working policies, what do you need to think about when it comes to your IT? 

Here are 4 ways to future-proof your business IT for long-term remote-working.

Remote Working Strategy

 

1- Cloud collaboration tools

A platform that keeps remote teams engaged and working cooperatively is key to business efficiency.  There are many collaboration tools out there such as Slack, Trello, Google Docs and more. With these, however, you can find yourself jumping between various platforms to complete different tasks. Not the most efficient use of your time!

We recommend one of our Microsoft 365 business plans, which provides everything you need in one place to keep your remote teams productive from wherever they are. 

As well as providing a quality email solution, its impressive suite of tools lets you achieve many valuable tasks, including:  

          File storing

          File sharing

          Real-time document editing

          Integration with your CRM 

          Task and project management

          Video calling and group chat  

          Calendar sharing. 

In short, everything your teams need to collaborate and communicate more effectively.

2- Data security

Remote working has forced businesses to rely more on online collaboration tools. The problem is that many are not aware that they must back up their data. 

Establishing a data backup and recovery plan is essential to keep your business data secure, minimise downtime and prevent data loss.

You can backup data in many ways – like an external hard drive – but considering online backups for remote workers is a must if you want a safer and more reliable solution. 

Online data backups keep your data in a secure and remote location, giving you increased security and a quick and easy way to recover your files in the event of data loss.

3- Investing in mobile devices

It goes without saying that equipping your teams with the right tools is essential to keeping them connected and productive.

If you’re considering long-term remote working, your computer hardware must be up to scratch and fit for purpose. That means checking your teams’ devices are performing as they should be and suitable for agile working. 

Mobile devices like laptops or tablets, smartphones and headsets are all essential for remote working – particularly if your staff work in the office for part of the week.  

We know that buying new or upgrading computer hardware for your business is an expense. But investing in the right hardware can save you a lot of hassle and lost time in the long run. 

If you’re looking to buy new IT equipment for your business, we can help you get the best price. Get in touch today to find out more.

4- Partnering with an IT services provider

Managing a remote workforce comes with numerous challenges for a business. By working with a managed services provider (MSP), like ITE Services, you can tick the task of managing your business IT off your list.

There are many other benefits of managed IT services for your remote workforce, including:

Improved security: an MSP will keep your devices protected by keeping your software and systems updated, as well as installing anti-virus software in all your workstations. What’s more, your provider can regularly back up your data – a business essential if your remote worker’s device crashes.

Expert support: whether you work from your office or your home, you need the same support level when it comes to your IT. With an MSP, you can benefit from the specialist support of IT professionals who are experts in their field and trained to manage your business IT effectively.

Excellent customer service: thanks to Service Level Agreements, you’re likely to receive high-quality service and straightforward IT management. With a dedicated team of IT experts, working with an MSP means any IT issues will be responded to swiftly, so your business downtime is reduced.

Things To Consider When Setting Up A Remote Working Strategy

 

With the increase in the corona pandemic, IT companies are changing their guidelines day by day. But one initial strategy is pretty much standard practice among in-house IT companies: moving to remote working.

However, if you have to follow a remote working environment, you need to follow some core rules in place right from the start. Here are five things to consider when setting up a remote working plan.

Equip your employees

One of the hurdles in remote working is not having access to the right systems and files. 

You’re required to find a solution that replicates their office PCs at home, whether on their home computer or on a company laptop – and have the right IT support at the end of a phone.

Trust Your Team

Work from home works best when managers give outputs more than inputs and trust their employees to do their duty when out of sight.

 So provide your team members with the tools and priorities they need to perform their duty well from their home, and then trust them to get on. 

However, if you don’t trust, that’s an HR problem, not a flexible working one.

Use Tech To Stay In Touch

From Google Hangouts and Google Meets to Trello and Slack, there are a wide number of tech solutions to make you and your team capable of communicating with each other through video conferencing. In one organisation in the UK that has moved to remote work, teams have set up WhatsApp groups to scale the informal office chat they are missing out on.

Prioritise What Can Be Done

Some tasks are better suited for remote workers than others. So, if you’re considering it as a short-term solution to the COVID-19, it’s worth working out which of your priorities can be tackled successfully at this time. And make sure your remote teams are aware of what they are.

Encourage Your Remote Workers

When people are working from their bedroom’s tables, it’s all too easy for them to get caught up in a piece of working hours and let it spread into the evening. 

Encourage your workers’ work-life balance by supporting them to formally switch off at the end of their working day.

Plan time for collaboration and socialising

In companies, employee engagement is everything. So, remote workers communicate often with coworkers, they can still feel isolated from time to time. It is important for employers to have guidelines for scheduling time where employees can socialise and communicate in a more relaxed setting.

Clearly document the legal rights

Remote workers are entitled to the same legal protections as in-office workers, but working remotely can refer to some challenges to ensuring that your IT business is legally compliant. 

Develop a process for reporting hours for remote workers with guidelines about times they can and can’t work properly. 

Leaders must make sure that they provide remote staff with the same assistance and tools as in-office employees. Otherwise, employers could face workplace violations and discrimination.

Benefits of Remote Work For IT Companies

 

What can you do to ensure your workforce is healthy and happy? 

As an employee, you have a life, you need to juggle all of your work commitments with. No doubt, you have an increasingly busy home life. In this case, technology can help us carry out remote work easier than ever before.

Here are some remote working benefits for IT companies.

Greater work-life balance for employees

Remote working gives a greater life-work balance to workers. With a successful remote work approach to working, employees have a lot more control over how they manage and spend their time. 

They can attend appointments without any worry, can meet someone, juggle their commitments and still commit to a working day.

Limits exposure to illnesses

During this pandemic, if employees have to commute to work through public transport, they are likely to pick up nasty illnesses. 

They might be caught up by germs, if they then spread these germs in the office, it may be a vicious cycle. 

However, allowing employees to work remotely, at least some of the time, can reduce the need to be in the office.

People with a disability can access work easier

According to the TUC report, around 160,000 people with a disability currently work from the home office. 

These disabled employees suffer a lot of hurdles during their jobs and especially while travelling. 

Greater flexibility by remote work undoubtedly gives greater access to all kinds of people.

Greater standards and productivity

It’s a natural phenomenon to assume employees give a performance slightly different at home, compared to an office. 

According to research from YouGov, 20% of HR managers believe that employees work to a slightly higher standard at home. And 7% told that employees work to a “much higher” standard.

Reduce Time Wastage

According to Business Insider Report, it’s estimated that the UK will lose £300 billion by 2030 due to time spent on traffic. 

As more people working in offices travel by public transport, it may affect their productivity and employee engagement.

 However, with flexible hours, working remotely, they can save their time and increase productivity and wellness.

Limitations of Remote Working

 

Remote work provides unlimited benefits for people with mobility, transportation barriers, and disabilities due to eliminating disability access. 

It is said that long term and remote working can cause significant damage. It recommends that employers should be aware of any potential negative impact of remote work and implement strategies to overtake any negative unintended effects. 

As remote work is becoming a regular element in the working life, a good impact on productivity must be determined. Moreover, a new management style will need to be implemented for a new starting remote work. It may waste some of your time.

How to Measure the Success of a Remote Work Strategy

 

Whether or not a remote work strategy for IT companies is successful will vary with every business relying on some factors such as company culture, team members, work environment, and more. 

No matter the company or the worker, though, it’s mandatory to always set goals and deadlines for team members in order to properly set expectations for them. 

Common metrics for scaling the success of a remote work strategy are traditional results-oriented metrics, like the number of hours worked, the number of projects finished, etc. while other metrics include customer satisfaction and the satisfaction of your remote workers.

Build a Readiness Checklist for Working from Home

 

A readiness checklist must include questions that your IT company’ leaders need to answer, along with checklists for the remote employees that explains what tools, equipment, and software are needed when performing remote work.

For your managers and leaders, the checklist should address questions covering what mechanism should be in place to ensure cybersecurity, what best practices employees should do before working from home, and how important guidelines, decisions, and other information will be communicated to employees.

For your employees, the checklist must cover things that are necessary like networking technology (high-speed internet connection, firewall setup for security, surge protector, etc), equipment (computer, LEDs), and specific software (Slack, Trello, Skype, etc) required to perform their work and communicate with a coworker.

Final Thoughts

 

A successful remote working strategy not only requires true management, meeting expectations, and employee engagement but also a willingness for leaders to think and work in a different way. 

Many of the same considerations that apply to an in-house work environment also apply to a remote work environment; it is just a matter of implementation.

As we come back to pre-pandemic workplaces, strategic decisions about how to develop remote and hybrid work come to the forefront. With strategic planning, organisations can actively consider company management practices and policies to transform their remote workforce. Implementing an effective remote work strategy takes patience and time when you are working with a globally dispersed team. 

Here at ITE Services, we have years of experience in supporting companies managing a global workforce across the UK.

Learn more about the benefits of outsourcing IT support services. Whether you decide to go back to the office full time, part of the week or go entirely remote, effective IT support is needed to keep your business functioning efficiently and securely.

Looking to future-proof your IT? Talk to us today to find out how the ITE Services team can help you.