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productivity

We’ve been discussing work-from-home (WFH) or hybrid working environments for a short while now, and there’s one concern that’s been ever present: how can organisations keep their staff accountable and just as productive outside of the office space? This is a question with many potential answers, but those answers can be broken down into four main categories: equipment, cloud familiarity, clear policy expectations, and closing the gap on social distancing. Let’s break them down one by one.

Having the Right Equipment

In regards to productivity, nothing makes it more stable that having the right equipment. Too many employees are relying on old laptops, with unsecured environments and potentially unreliable internet connections. There are also peripheral concerns—lack of additional monitors, non-ergonomic chairs, and so on. These things limit the tools available, slow down productivity, and leave employees uncomfortable and distracted. The University of Utah found that people with multiple (or simply larger) monitors complete tasks 52% faster than those without.

It’s also important to keep your staff cyber-safe. Make sure your team’s computers are equipped with the latest cybersecurity protection software. We also highly recommend setting your team up with multi-factor authentication for additional security. It goes without saying that a cybersecurity breach will have a devastating effect on productivity and your reputation.

Cloud Familiarity

It’s important to be familiar with your existing or potential cloud-based solutions. This could range from the known-and-trusted Microsoft Office 365 business suite to a cloud-based data storage solution, or more. If you’re already using Office 365, then we want to highlight one tool in particular: Teams. Teams is more than an instant messaging platform—it also supports video conferencing and recording, filesharing, collaboration, conversations, and more. We’ve noticed a lot of organisations underusing Team’s functionality, and we wanted to highlight it as a powerful tool for your use.
Clarity in Policy and Expectations

One of the easiest ways to improve employee accountability and productivity is to provide clear expectations and a comprehensive policy. For example, we at Sensible have been open about what are Key Performance Indicators are for our WFH employees, and we have provided guidelines for how to go about said work. These policies can be as rigid or loose as your organisation’s culture requires, but they should be clear and widely understood.

Closing The Gap On Social Distancing

It’s incredibly important to stay connected while socially distant. We’ve taken steps to keep our employees socially involved via online ‘huddles’, where we meet and socialize at least twice a day. Sharing this support, recognition, and encouragement has resulted in a noticeable spike in productivity. If your employees feel appreciated and supported, they will support you as well.

These are our tips to keep people productive and accountable in a WFH environment. It’s relatively simple, all things considered, but it’s important nonetheless. If you’re looking for assistance with your technology or hardware needs, Sensible is here and willing to help. Give us a call!

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is causing businesses around the world to reexamine their operational structure. Companies now need to plan and prepare for employees to work remotely without any interruption to normal business functions, if they plan to stay competitive and productive.

If you find you and your company are facing these decisions, Sensible, will do everything in our capacity to help keep your business running as close to normal as possible.

This might cause some challenges for organisations that don’t have the right technology or structure to support this. It doesn’t help that, during times like these, we see a severe spike in cyber-crime activity because employees are accessing the network from personal laptops and home computers.

Companies who aren’t properly prepared during these times might suffer from possible data loss and unplanned downtime with more associates working remotely, but having a few simple steps in place can help prevent this.

Step 1 – Develop a Remote Workforce Plan To Fit Your Organisation’s Unique Needs

World-wise health pandemics can jeopardise and possibly damage the operations and future of any company, so it's critical to develop a Remote Workforce Plan to help ensure ongoing business processes in a crisis.

IT Professionals and Cloud Solution Strategists can help provide a roadmap that organisations can follow and implement to ensure sustainability, as we have the ability and responsibility to help local organisations, our peers, and our employees survive and thrive in these difficult times.

A professional IT organisation, like Sensible, can help rapidly adjust your business model towards remote work, as well as set up a consistent and effective line of communication with your employees and clients.

You can schedule your Remote Workforce Plan.

 

Step 2 – Implement a Remote Workforce Plan With a Trusted IT Partner

In the rush to provide remote access, don’t sacrifice cybersecurity or the ability to manage systems and devices in order to get employees up a running. The ability to support users remotely will be essential to ensure smooth operations, especially if users become quarantined due to health concerns. Remote workers need to have clear communication protocols for IT support and for crisis management if they encounter unusual or suspect issues that could be the result of a breach.

Therefore, you not only need a detailed Remote Workforce Plan, but a trusted IT partner to help facilitate that plan and manage all users and networks.

Here is a quick list of items an IT company, like Sensible, can help organisations facilitate a Work From Home (WFH) environment and continue to operate productively:

Organisations with an Office 365 subscription:

  • Implement Teams, Sharepoint and OneDrive for secure communication and collaboration with cloud file storage and anywhere access on any device:
  • Teams can be used for team-based chat, as well as, voice and video communication.
  • Sharepoint can be a repository for shared documents (replaces file server)
  • OneDrive is to able to be used for cloud storage of your own documents.
  • Implement multi-factor authentication to secure access to resources.
  • Implement device management policies on smartphones, tablets and other BYOD devices such as home computers.  This will allow the ability to control where corporate data is stored and provide the ability to wipe data if needed.  Device encryption can also be enabled on these devices to ensure that data is not exposed in case the device is lost or stolen.
  • Provide training on how to use these tools to employees that don’t have experience in using them.

Organisations with onsite servers:

  • Setup secure remote access directly to employee desktops.
  • Setup access to Remote Desktop Servers for all employees (if one exists).  We will need to ensure there is enough “horsepower” on the server(s) as most companies with a remote server typically don’t have all employees working on them simultaneously.
  • Discuss options to transition to cloud servers and WVD (windows virtual desktops) to enable a WFH (work from home) workforce.
  • Discuss options to transition to Office 365 to remove reliance on the onsite systems and provide employees to work from anywhere at any time.

Telecommunications:

  • Setup VoIP phone systems to allow phone calls to be received on employee smartphone apps or softphone apps installed on a laptop.

Step 3 - Audit Employee Environments

In addition to helping organisations get set up with appropriate Work From Home (WFH) resources, Sensible can provide assistance with assessing and auditing employee environments

There are continual disclosures regarding vulnerable Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and this is an excellent time for employees to take action on securing them with strong passwords and updating their firmware/software to the latest versions.

Consider promoting, or even mandating, the use of a connected home monitoring app before allowing work devices to be connected to home networks. The scan or monitoring will highlight devices with known vulnerabilities, outdated software or firmware, or default passwords that need to be changed.

If your staff are going to use their own home computers, consider mandating CyberSecurity Essentials to protect your systems from malware, etc.

This is a stressful time for all of us, employees and business owners alike. Be the calming and supportive voice in your community. Working closely with your team and a steady IT resource can help you keep operating and keep your team employed. It’s the best case for everyone.

If you need any help or assistance getting your team up and running remotely, please reach out to the Sensible Team at 1300-SENSIBLE (1300-736-742) or you can book some time for chat on our calendar

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing lots of organisations to implement Social Distancing practices.

Employees are being forced to Work From Home (WFH).

Is your business ready to continue to operate in this environment so you can continue to serve your clients?

To help with this , we have developed a FREE COVID-19 Remote Work Readiness Self Assessment Tool for Australian businesses so you can work out how ready you are to implement Work From Home.

This will help keep people your employed, which is good for everyone involved.

Also, check out our other free information about Disaster Recovery Planning !

2020 has already proven itself to be a tough year, particularly here “Down Under” in Sydney, Australia. We’ve dealt with widespread and devastating bushfires, floods, and now the global pandemic of the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus. Not just businesses, but entire nations are being shut down to contain the virus and minimise the death toll.

Many organisations may be forced to lay off employees to survive, or shut down entirely, which will hurt both the business and the employees. There’s a way for your organisation to continue operating amidst this crisis, and keep people employed, which is good for everyone involved.

Fortunately, there is a way to do that for many industries. Remote work has been a growing trend worldwide, and has now become a necessity. Social distancing recommendations given to us by our governments and the World Health Organisation disallow communal gatherings in the name of safety :  in-person workspaces may be next. The answer, then, is to work from home. Facilitating a remote workforce gives more flexibility to both the business and the employee, and it keeps both safe in this time of crisis. Many companies may not have the infrastructure built up for this yet, but we’ve been helping organisations improve their technology for over 35 years; and is something we can help you with.

Modern IT Best Practices

Modern IT Best Practices make a huge difference in how a company will respond to this crisis. We’ve noticed that the organisations that follow seven specific practices are adapting to the current climate much more smoothly than others. The 7 modern IT practices are:

  1. C-Level executives directly engage multiple times a year with their business-savvy IT provider to ensure their IT systems properly deliver their business requirements.
  2. They no longer have onsite IT departments who are not geared for providing uninterrupted remote support.
  3. They have provided secure systems for their staff to perform all their major functions from anywhere
  4. They have already carefully migrated a large part of their systems to securely configured cloud based systems.
  5. They have migrated to cloud-based communication systems.
  6. Their IT Support team are already experienced in the (more complex) back-end world of the cloud.
  7. They have invested in regularly training their staff to properly use their technologies and measuring these productivity gains.

If you examine your organisation, how many of those seven things do you do or have done?

We can help you get these policies in place, and adapt to the current reality. Swift action might be the thing that minimises the damage to, or outright saves, your business in this trying time. Schedule an introductory chat via our calendar.

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