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5 Tips for Enabling WFH Basics

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across most industries were suddenly faced with the immediate need to support employees to work from home (WFH). For many, this meant setting up remote workplaces with multimedia communications and collaboration tools nearly overnight.
 
Some companies offered the flexibility to work remotely prior to the current crisis, but most were vastly unprepared. While scrambling to put an infrastructure in place to support WFH, many are choosing to buy quick tech solutions without making strategic decisions to help their workers be effective in the long-term.
 
While quick tech decisions may enable remote work today, we’ll likely see a large amount of technology repatriation result from it. What this means is companies will be backtracking on bad tech decisions – costing more time and money than if companies had taken a more strategic approach. Even before COVID-19, research from Harvard Business Review showed that $900 billion out of the $1.3 trillion spent on digital transformation in 2018 was a waste because the technology initiatives didn’t end up meeting company goals.
 
Which begs the question as to what those repatriation figures will look like for 2020. How many of the tools acquired during this crisis will companies continue to use when they realize they’re spending too much money and not receiving the value they need?
 
To avoid wasting both time and money – now is the time to plan, not panic. Companies must think about how to build the proper infrastructure to enable work wherever it happens. Here are five essential WFH foundations that every company should be considering:
 
  1. Security is Top Priority - With workers suddenly doing their jobs at home, an employee’s home network security can impact your business. That means their router security control problems are now your problem. For example, COVID-19 has created a rise in scammers using phishing attempts. How will you keep your data safe? First and foremost, as you set up the foundations for WFH, make sure your employees have the appropriate security in place. Connecting via a VPN connection is a good place to start. If the WFH solutions you’re putting into place aren’t secure, the whole company could be put at risk.
  2. Plan for Tech in the Age of COVID-19, and Beyond - The lesson IT departments are learning through this crisis is that we have to remain flexible. Home-based workers have different needs than those who are in office. Companies must be able to crank up their bandwidth with providers, procure extra licenses, and provide workers with the right equipment to communicate and collaborate when WFH, and they need to do it fast. How will you accommodate employees’ tech needs if shelter-in-place orders last into summer, or return in the fall? Are you able to provide laptops, phones, or other equipment in a short amount of time? Planning now for future WFH scenarios will ensure a smoother transition next time around.
  3. Maintain Company Culture and Connection - Adapting to WFH requires much more than having the right technology in place because it fundamentally changes the way we interact with each other. It’s important to have a strategy in place that maintains company culture and sense of connection among team members. While video conferencing can help workers connect face-to-face, you may also want to consider variations on the traditional conference call with walking meetings, virtual happy hours, or co-worker coffee breaks. Even when we can’t see each other in person, we can still avoid isolation and preserve engagement with our teams; it just requires some extra creativity.
  4. Utilize the Cloud - Cloud-based solutions are critical to the transition from office to remote. If your company is still managing mission-critical communications on-premises, it’s not too late to move to the cloud. As COVID-19 has shown us, during a crisis, it’s difficult to rely on a data center where in-person staff are required to maintain it. With widespread WFH, many companies are finding that their cloud migration has never been more crucial. With the cloud, employees can access the information they need from anywhere. And if their computers crash, everything is backed up and safe in the cloud.
  5. Establish Seamless Workflows for Movement from Office to Home - As this crisis subsides, companies will need strategies that allow people to do the work they require wherever they are. Many aspects of life won’t revert to the way they were before. Instead, how will your business operate in the new normal? That involves supporting your workers to be efficient at home or in the office, with tools like cloud-based documents and streamlined video meetings. Think about what opportunity will COVID-19 provide for your employees to do their jobs better, long into the future.

 

As we continue to ride out the COVID-19 storm, integrating the right solutions will help businesses keep running as close to normal as possible. Regardless of your technology or resources, however, there is a natural learning curve when it comes to making the transition to WFH. Remember to plan, not panic, as these changes are likely to last much longer than this virus.

 

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