What is remote working?

For some companies with thousands of office staff, working from home set up wasn’t an option just two months ago. However, courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic businesses have had to re-think their modes of operation and quickly. It’s been busy! Employees are now forced to continue their work from home, amid the “staying at home saves lives” message. The race for businesses was to ensure the technology or tools used meant employees can continue working productively.

As the consequence of Covid-19, companies across all sectors have started a new chapter, perhaps one that’s here to stay, called “remote working”. It’s commonly known as working from home or as our office likes to abbreviate it to WFH.

remote working from a park bench or home
cartoon showing that businesses need to adapt the crisis

Why is remote working important now?

The current crisis has meant that companies have set up entire systems for remote working in the face of ever-changing lock-down rules. The unforeseen technical issues with the quick set ups for remote access made it impossible for staff to come into the office and ask the IT department for help.

For instance, in the UK, Leeds City Council over a weekend managed to get 11,500 office employees ready to work from home. The Councils digital services team got a whopping 7,000 laptops ready for remote use in just 3 days. And thankfully, just before the full impact of Covid-19 had began being felt.

For certain the biggest challenge for a company, CIO’s has been a technical one. Setting up many remote users, with laptops and reliable resources including the most used like email, file sync and sharing. In addition, boosting bandwidth to make sure their systems can cope with the sudden surge in external traffic as hundreds, maybe thousands of employees login together from home.

What are the CIO’s saying

The CIO of cloud content management company Box, Paul Chapman, told ZDNet that the fast escalation of the situation caught many IT workers by surprise – him included. “We were sort of testing our secure instant response, or taking parts of an office offline for a day to test it out. “And then within 96 hours of that we had shut down pretty much every location in the world and been enforced into what we call the world’s largest work-from-home experiment,” he added.

CIO also are concerned about security with the rise in malware attacks amid the pandemic. As the consequence, they are rightly spending more of the budget on their VPNs, endpoint security and multi-factor authentication to support, staff secure access.

Being faced with the “world’s largest work-from-home experiment” amidst all the challenges with security, remote access, bandwidth and technical issues, we’re listing the 10 top challenges remote-working checklist to help you tick them off.

Remote working checklist

1. Reassess your immediate priorities

With the pressure of setting up staff remotely and often on a large scale, your priorities are likely to shift along with a budget adjustment for the change in needs.

As an example, securing enough bandwidth to support VPN and remote-desktop access, will increase your un -budgeted spend.

2. Prepare for a surge in hardware support requests

At home more mishaps and accidents can occur with laptops and equipment. Such as coffee spills, laptops falling off the table and being sat on. And now that school is at home too, little fingers can easily get into work devices with bad outcomes. Get in touch with your IT Managed Service Provider to understand their service and support. And start asking yourself: do I have enough support?

3. Make no concessions on security for remote working

As a result of the increase in cyber-criminals, it’s important that security concerns are at the forefront of our minds. The threats caused by criminals amid the Covid-19 pandemic are only increasing and include Phishing scams, DDoS attacks, and ransomware.

Update/renew the companies VPNs, endpoint security and multi-factor authentication to support, staff secure access.

4. Supply the adequate tools for online collaboration

Focus on getting a basic team communication and collaboration tool installed. At minimum video-conferencing, phones, file sharing and team messaging. Microsoft Teams, Slack and Atlassian’s HipChat are just a few options to keep your teams connected.

5. Don’t assume that everyone knows the basics

Dialing into a Zoom meeting might be as natural as picking up their phone for digital-savvy employees, but we can’t expect that everyone has the same understanding. Often employees are using collaboration tools for the first time and therefore will need some explanation of how to set a video call for instance.

6. No question should be left unanswered

We should be prepared for an increase in IT requests of all types, from the basic to the complex and prioritise the urgent requests.

How to guides, or detailed instructions for use are great ways businesses can educate their staff on a larger scale. Or perhaps FAQ forums or like Leeds City Council video instructions that is something their employees responded to better. These are all ways to get find quick solutions.

7. Teach your colleagues how to be productive with the tools you have put at their disposal

Staff that are accustomed to working in the office may need addition guidance to transfer their way through remote working. The first step says Suzanne Adnams, VP analyst at Gartner, is to “engage with each member personally”, looking for “signs of stress and distraction”.

Managers then can be given insight on how to “help their team members focus… giving short term goals, she told ZDNet.

8. Communicate, more so than you ever have

Team spirit is more important than ever. Box, cloud management company have created a virtual weekly cooking class to maintain their communication and all while doing something fun! Managers are looking at new creative ways to collaborate and share.

Check on employees that are living alone or feeling the effects of being isolated.

9. Cut people some slack

The current situation is stressful and anxiety-inducing for most, so we need to cut people some slack. Some remote workers are parents that are also having to teach their kids from home.

10. Start planning for the next time

Build resilience into your systems.

Every business needs a disaster recovery plan for continued operation when life takes an unexpected turn for the worst. We just can’t assume that this won’t happen again. Jot down your company’s weak spots and look at the areas that need improving. If it happens again, you’ll free to focus on your people and your team.

checklist to consider for remote working