The latest topic in the Remedy business advice series looks at the growing popularity and importance of remote working.
The potential impact of a significant natural event like the recent flooding on small to medium-sized businesses can be significant or even catastrophic. Employers are coming under increasing pressure to offer a more flexible working environment, by increasing opportunities for staff to work from home or other remote locations. New technologies and faster broadband speeds in more rural areas now allow staff working away from the office to remain fully operational, by communicating effectively and securely with their colleagues or customers, wherever they are.
By providing remote access tools that enable computer users to securely and easily access their office computer, businesses can ensure employees can use all of their files, e-mail and applications to work at any time of day, from any location. Web conferencing tools enable them to host or join an online meeting at the touch of a button where they can share their screen and interact just as if they were there in person. Previous data security concerns when dealing with sensitive data can be allayed by using the most up-to-date security software, and by having a robust on-line security policy.
Improved working environment
Business owners are reacting to the changing world and are beginning to see the benefits of flexible working as it gives them more control over their working day and provides greater job satisfaction. By passing these same benefits on to their staff, employers also see the positive impact this would have on occasions which cannot be anticipated, such as family emergencies or bad weather. On-line instead of face to face meetings can save on travel costs and increase staff productivity, meaning business owners can keep an eye on carbon reduction as part of a corporate social responsibility commitment.
Here are five key points to bear in mind when considering offering remote working capabilities to staff:
- Select a virtual solution which offers the breadth of functionality your partners and staff need, including remote meeting, webinar and training tools. A software-as-a-service option will also minimise upfront investment and ongoing management costs.
- Choose a vendor offering comprehensive remote diagnostic support, to ensure technical problems are resolved as quickly as possible.
- Make sure the remote working technology replicates the key aspects of normal office working, to ensure business as usual, with minimum disruption to the effectiveness of partners and other key staff when off-site on a planned or unplanned basis.
- As part of this, select a solution which provides full and secure remote access to your computer from any location via a simple web browser.
- In order to ensure maximum use internally, choose tools that are easy to use, which will encourage staff and customers to use them regularly.
Today these solutions are readily available and financially within reach of even the smallest business. By providing the tools to enable employees to work from anywhere, companies can help staff achieve a work/life balance that will increase satisfaction levels and staff retention, while maintaining productivity and minimising disruption to the business.