When many small businesses turned to remote work during the pandemic, most assumed it would be on a short-term basis. However, organizations and workers alike have enjoyed the benefits, and businesses are realizing that virtual work is here to stay at least for the time being—and maybe even beyond. Therefore, as a small business owner, you need to ensure teams have the optimum tools in order to continue to be successful working from home. Here are five important technologies for working remotely and suggestions for helping your team optimize them.
Work from Home Technology Must-Haves
A reliable internet connection is the foundational element to allow for productive remote work. If your employees complain of sluggish WiFi, help them troubleshoot potential easy fixes, such as:
- Moving their laptop to a room with a stronger signal or moving the router closer to where they’re working.
- Logging off gaming or streaming systems or other devices that are not in use.
- Upgrading their router, which may help both range and speed.
- Contacting their provider about possibilities for a faster connection, realizing that it might come with a higher price tag.
During our recent period of sheltering in place, we became all too familiar with the joys of virtual events—both social and work-related. While there are several services available, scheduling calls will be more cohesive if you designate one as your company’s platform of choice. If colleagues are tiring of video calls, suggest options that may ease the strain, such as switching off the video camera for certain calls or investing in a better webcam or headphones to improve the quality of the experience.
Instant communication tools
Since you can no longer wander down the hall to ask a teammate a question, messaging or chat tools have become vital for real-time communication and to streamline email in-boxes. However, when workdays have no natural end in a work-from-home situation, employees are more at risk of burnout if they feel compelled to always be “on.” Help alleviate that pressure by setting guidelines for when a coworker is expected to be engaged in instant communication channels. For example, set start and end times to the day. And if a coworker plans to temporarily log off so they can immerse themselves in focused work, have them send out a message so colleagues realize they won’t receive an immediate reply.
One of the key issues that companies grapple with regarding technology to work from home is ensuring their data is safe. Talk to your team about why cybersecurity is a priority and confirm they have proper protocols in place. These include:
- Strong passwords: Insist on complex passwords, which are harder for a hacker to guess, and consider two-factor authentication. This adds another layer of security by requiring the user to enter a code sent to their text or email.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities: As you assess the best technology for working remotely, put this at the top of your list. A VPN increases security because it creates a private connection between your remote workers' devices and the company’s network, thus preventing anyone else from accessing their internet connection.
- Anti-virus software: It’s all too easy for malware to find its way onto a computer as employees click around—or worse, their kids use their devices for gaming or chatting. Educate your colleagues on safe practices, such as never clicking suspicious links or downloading unapproved programs. And make sure their devices are protected with the most recent version of any software, which means that it has been updated to account for the latest threats.
- Data backup: Remind them to back up all their files to a cloud-based service so they can still be accessed should their device be compromised.
Project management software
Spontaneous touch bases are hard to come by when the team is scattered, and it might even be challenging to hold regular project update meetings. But it’s more important than ever to track progress when everyone is working remotely, which may slow response times and lengthen timelines. That’s where project management platforms may play an important role in promoting collaboration—they may keep the team aligned on responsibilities and deadlines and ensure that projects stay on budget and schedule. Work with your colleagues to establish a procedure for initiating and updating projects and require them to commit to checking in and updating their steps frequently.
Make Working from Home Work
These days we are adapting to new routines and habits in all facets of our life—including working from home. Small business owners may ease the transition and help improve productivity and work efficiency by supplying your team with the right technology to work from home—along with a spirit of camaraderie and understanding that will encourage everyone to do their best work, no matter where they are located.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.