How to be a better remote employer in 2021
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that remote working is no longer the future of business: it’s here to stay. With many being forced into this new way of working before their business was ready, it’s been a steep learning curve. So now that it looks like remote working is sticking around, how can we as employers adapt to this seemingly ‘new normal’? With another uncertain year ahead of us, here are our best ideas for ensuring that you’re the best remote employer for your workforce.
It will come as no surprise that infrastructure is a big barrier to remote working. Whilst disaster and recovery has been a high priority for many businesses over the past decade, the reality of upgrading and providing secure and stable hardware to all employees is far beyond budget for many. Add to that the additional equipment such as mouse, keyboard, webcams and such it might be tempting to see how you can cut any costs, but this might end up costing you more than you think!
The good news is that it might not be as cost heavy to transition as you think. It’s no secret that we’re living in a time of constant technological advancement. Now, more than ever, there’s even more software options available to you and your business:
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): VoIP is a great way to keep your company connected. No longer tethered to your desk phone, VoIP means that you can access your business telephony from anywhere in the world. All you need is access to Wifi or 4G. With no need to invest in new hardware, you can access your entire network from the palm of your hand. Whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, or smart device, you can connect seamlessly wherever you are in the world.
- Bespoke apps: Did you know that you can commission bespoke applications for your everyday business processes? Now is definitely the time to investigate ways of streamlining processes and procedures. No, we’re not talking about job replacement or relying on AI. Creating a bespoke app can enable your employees to free up their time spent bogged down in the everyday processes and focus their skills on what really matters.
- Virtual Private Networks (VPN): A business VPN is a remote working software that enables you to provide an end-to-end encrypted connection to your business network. No matter where in the world your employees are connecting from. A virtual desktop that can be accessed on any desktop or laptop, using a VPN can provide a level of net security and ensures proper usage of systems. With added security features available, it’s a tool that we highly recommend adding to your infrastructure.
One of the pitfalls of moving to remote ways of working so quickly last year was adjustments in cyber security. With the rise in phishing scams, unreliable connections, and lack of awareness many businesses were left vulnerable to attack following the pandemic. Having spent the last year in survival mode, there is never a bad time to review your security measures to ensure that you’re keeping your workforce and clientbase sure that they are receiving the best service possible. Here are our three top security tips to help you keep your business secure throughout the year ahead:
- Spring Clean: No we don’t mean the stationery cupboard (though perhaps give it a dust). We mean your processes; just because it’s always been done that way in the past doesn’t mean that it’s still a functional procedure. Review your processes, procedures and disaster plans. Catch up with the staff affected by these and ensure that they’re still following protocol, and if they think that there is a different way of doing things. Better yet – hire a contractor who can look at things with an outside eye. A fresh set of eyes is always likely to spot something that you might not have.
- It’s not really free: We’ve all heard the saying ‘you get what you pay for’, but do you know just how much you’re paying for free services? From scam software to blatant data and privacy breaches – free software might end up costing your business a lot more than you think. By investing in secure systems and working with reputable providers, you’ll not only create a stable and secure remote working system, you’ll reap the added benefits and security measures that they can provide in addition to their core offering.
- Human error is inevitable: As much as we like to believe we’re infallible, humans are bound to get things wrong sometimes. But by being prepared you can ensure that the impact on your business is kept to a minimum. Keep all staff up to date on policies and procedures. Check in to ensure that there’s no misunderstandings, and lead by example. If everyone knows what the actions following a potential breach are it’s going to ensure that any fires are snuffed out before they can take hold.
It’s not just infrastructure that dictates how well your business works remotely: there’s an all too human side too. Some employees may now be working for your business without ever having met their colleagues face to face. Whereas before you could catch up by the water cooler – now you might only know your line manager purely from their email signature. While for some this can be the ideal way of working, as social beings we need to feel connected. And whilst we’re more virtually connected than ever before, there are many things that an email can’t shine a light on.
While we still navigate the new and exciting waters of remote working, here are our top tips on how to effectively manage your teams remotely:
- Morale: it’s not difficult to feel the mood of your team when you’re sat in the room with them, but when we’re all telecommuting it’s a lot harder to read between the lines. To keep your finger on the pulse, start weaving in regular catch ups. 1-2-1 meetings should be maintained throughout remote working at the same frequency and standard, but also let your teams know that you’ll be casually checking in on them as well. Remember that the employee at the other end of that video call is a complex human, and be prepared to be flexible.
- Boundaries: It’s easier than ever to stay connected, but constant connection can be detrimental to our mental health. Whereas before we could leave the work at the office, now it’s in our living rooms, our kitchens, and our personal lives. Not everyone has a dedicated space within their homes where they can set up shop. The traditional 9-5 might not be an effective way to use your staff. Work with them to establish a schedule that not only works for you both, but ensures that your employee is able to have time to breathe and get some quality down time too.
- Buddies: An opt-in buddy scheme is a great way to keep teams connected throughout uncertainty. With no obligation to take part, this way employees know they will have another dedicated person within the organisation who is there. Whether it’s a weekly email just to check in and touch base, or a regular catch up to decompress and process – it’s a valuable scheme to utilise throughout uncertain times.
If you’d like to talk to one of our specialists for more ideas on how you can create a better remote working environment, or how to disaster proof your IT infrastructure for whatever 2021 can throw at it, get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org