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.
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.
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.
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!
Businesses and organisations of all kinds are thinking about the eventual transition back into the office environment. This experience will be different for each organisation. Some have been running essential services during the COVID-19 outbreak, and haven’t really noticed much change in this. Their experience will differ greatly from the business that transitioned to an entirely remote workforce in response to the pandemic—their needs are going to be more costly and drastic. Whatever your experience has been, or what your situation currently is, it’s time to start planning for what comes next. Are you going to return to the office life, like before the pandemic? Are you going to stay entirely remote? The answer to both of these questions is likely “no.” Most organisations would benefit from adopting the Hybrid Working Model.
The Hybrid Working Model (HWM) is simply a simultaneous adoption of in-office and remote work environments. We’re expecting to see a significant number of workers continue to work from home after the social distancing and quarantine restrictions are lifted, and we expect that number to stay fairly consistent. There are also good reasons for returning to the office: face-to-face collaboration can be more effective than remote collaboration, it’s easier to stay focused without the trappings of home, and there are social benefits to working in the office with other people. With these things in mind, we need to look at what businesses and non-profit organisations need to do to prepare for this kind of HWM environment.
Security is always important, but it’s even more important right now. Ransomware attacks have increased by 400% over that last three months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic response. With businesses and organisations everywhere trying to function with a hastily-assembled remote work environment, hackers are taking advantage of the generally weakened cybersecurity. Your business needs to take steps now to solidify your cybersecurity solution and prepare for securing your HWM environment. We expect issues regarding file version control and virus corruption to spike as employees move back into the office, which can put company data at risk.
The quickest and most cost-efficient step you can take to shore up your security is to enable Multi-factor Authentication or Two-Factor Authentication across all of your accounts and devices. Requiring a secondary verification source (like a smartphone app or a text code) to access accounts and data adds a layer of defense that all but the most dedicated hackers and cybercriminals won’t be able to penetrate. Beyond that, Sensible is happy to work with you to refine and strengthen your cybersecurity offering.
When your team is split between the office and remote work, there are a few things that can make a positive impact. The first of which is establishing solid policies around transferring data between home and the office. The second one is to learn and leverage the full functionality of your current tools. We very commonly see people using great tools like Microsoft Teams, but not using it effectively. For example, Teams has a chat function, a collaborative file sharing function, video conferencing, and task management; a lot of companies only use it for communication. Leveraging your tools to the fullest extent, especially when on-site and remote workers are working together on one project.
We hope this article highlighted some helpful things for you, and gave you an idea of what you need to prepare for when implementing your Hybrid Working Model environment. If you’re interested in working with a trusted IT partner, Sensible is happy to help you figure out how to best meet your needs.