Enabling remote employees for smooth work conditions
The right technology can overcome connectivity challenges
For a modern organization to be successful, it must transform into a digital workplace, with the ability to conduct business from anywhere, anytime, with anyone.
That means businesses must provide employees with technologies that allow them to stay connected to colleagues and customers while being productive, even while working remotely.
Businesses of all sizes can help ensure employees can work remotely without skipping a beat by augmenting these four common workplace technologies.
This is the big one, because just as an office needs strong internet service to support in-house employees, remote employees will need excellent service as well, with enough bandwidth to handle streaming connections for tasks like videoconferencing.
• Consider supplying or supplementing remote employees’ home or office internet to ensure they have top speeds and can stay connected.
• Add in reliable mobile service so employees can connect via their devices.
• Identify safe and secure Wi-Fi hot spot options for on-the-go employees. Using hot spots is a great way for a business to cut down on data costs and save on overage charges. Businesses can also set up a virtual private network (VPN) that allows for a stable and secure connection.
• Make sure employees understand how to keep their devices (and, by extension, the company’s network) safe by avoiding unsecured websites, using virus protection, and refraining from downloading unapproved apps and software on company devices. All employees — remote workers especially — must follow key cybersecurity guidelines, including securing their work phone and computer; installing a firewall; downloading antivirus and antimalware software that is set to update automatically; and regularly backing up information.
Employees need virtual access to the same information and tools they’d be able to access in a physical office. The solution here is the cloud, which hosts files, data and applications within a centralized server and makes them accessible from any device with connectivity. This means employees can work from anywhere on company-issued mobile devices, or their own devices.
Remember: Remote employees need virtual access to everything — not just a few applications or files. Businesses deploying a cloud strategy must provide employees with ways to share information, sync schedules, process important documents, and back everything up in real time — securely.
To be successful with both cloud and remote work, determine what tools and applications employees need to do their jobs and ensure that a cloud environment mimics the in-office experience.
It’s easy to forget about the humble telephone, but it’s still a key business tool, both inside and outside an office.
Look for a flexible phone system in which employees can use one phone number that switches seamlessly from a desk phone to a mobile device, allowing them to stay connected from wherever they are. One option for a company with remote employees is a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution.
When all employees are in the same office, it’s easy to get together in a conference room or someone’s office to exchange ideas and present information — but when one employee, or everyone, is remote, getting together is not as simple. Collaboration platforms and unified communications systems are key for future workplaces.
For example, in addition to allowing participants to see each other as they speak, web conferencing systems offer tools to share slideshow presentations and documents, easily schedule or change meeting times, and record meetings and presentations for future viewing.
Another tool — group chat software — can make it seem like everyone is in the same room. They can also serve as a productivity tracker. Google or Microsoft Office both offer collaboration apps for chatting remotely and trading files.
As remote work becomes more common, it can introduce challenges when it comes to keeping employees connected, productive and engaged, but the right technologies make it a snap.
Barry Bader is vice president of Comcast Business for Comcast’s Greater Boston Region.