With the coronavirus situation worsening, it looks like it is now a case of when, rather than if, the UK government will ask people to self-isolate and work from home. Whilst some businesses already have good systems in place to allow employees to work remotely, there are a worrying number of SMEs that don’t.
So how can you prepare your business for such an eventuality?
1.) Acknowledge and accept that all or part of your workforce are likely to need to work remotely.
Unfortunately, taking a ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ stance, when it comes to the possibility of large-scale self-isolation and compulsory home working, is no longer an option. As it is now inevitable, putting sufficient plans in place now, could be the difference between your business surviving the pandemic and not!
2.) Evaluate which jobs and tasks can and can’t be carried out remotely.
Carry out a full analysis of all roles and duties and categorise them into 4 categories:
- Can already be done remotely – Certain tasks may be easy to carry out remotely and may already be done remotely from time to time.
- Could be done remotely, but changes would be necessary – There may be some tasks that couldn’t currently be done remotely but could be with some changes. For example, it may be that hard copies of invoices are currently posted out each day, but a switch to email invoices could be relatively straight forward and allow invoicing to be done remotely.
- Could be done remotely, if additional hardware/software was in place – It may be possible to carry out other tasks remotely with the addition of new hardware or software, such as laptops and cloud-based software.
- Can’t ever be done remotely – Whilst there will undoubtedly be some jobs that can’t be done remotely, these may be able to be carried out by a skeleton staff or put on hold, depending on the urgency of the tasks.
3.) Further investigate the additional hardware/software required.
Whilst buying new laptops and software isn’t usually cheap, weighing up the costs against the potential for lost revenue, may well still make it the most cost-effective option. In some situations, it may be possible for employees to use their own laptops and phones, but this can create a number of data-security issues, which should be properly considered beforehand.
4.) Set up a communications protocol.
It is important to have a good communications plan in place before any remote working starts. The plan should outline:
- How to reach everybody
- How employees are expected to respond to customers
- How and when teams will coordinate/meet
5.) Identify ways to measure performance.
Switching to large scale remote working at short notice, is inevitably going to present issues that may not have been foreseen. Additionally, it is also possible that some employees may see it as an opportunity to slack off, so it is important that output is closely monitored. This will allow managers to ensure that employees and systems are working as they should be and that any problems people run into are addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Close monitoring of performance and what has and hasn’t worked well, will also be useful to reflect on going forward, when the pandemic is over, and businesses return to normal. For example, you may find that certain things such as switching from postal to email communications has worked well and saved money, or that holding meetings over Skype rather than in person has saved unnecessary travelling time and could be kept in place.
QiC Systems are an award-winning IT support company, based near Winchester and servicing the whole of Hampshire. Specialising in Office 365 and cloud-based working solutions, we can help you to ensure your business is home working ready!
To arrange a free Home Working Audit, call us on : 01962 711000, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org