While we might have just hit the official start to fall over the weekend, it’s never too early to start thinking about how you and your team will manage your day-to-day throughout the winter season. Here in New England, winter is an unpredictable beast. Some years we’re basking in mild temperatures, sunny days, and barely a snowflake to be found. While during others, we’re trying to figure out if the sun even exists anymore and how it’s possible that our cars haven’t completely collapsed under the weight of constant snow.
In fact, a few years ago we had a winter so bad that we had a snowstorm every Monday for five straight weeks. After the first couple storms, businesses - rightfully - became concerned about their bottom line (aside from their employees’ safety). Although in some cases their employees couldn’t get into work, whether they wanted to or not, could they really continue to keep their offices closed or allow their employees to work from home? After that particularly bad year, we saw an uptick in businesses investigating ways to allow their employees the flexibility to work from home without losing productivity and efficiency.
Now, a few years later with even better technology available to us, it should be even easier. Here are three tips to help employees work from home this winter - and all year round.
- Implement Proper BYOD Policies
- Make Sure Necessary Files Are Accessible
- Encourage a Trial Run
- BONUS TIP
One of the most crucial things to consider is that while your employees are working from home they’re most likely using their personal computers and cell phones to conduct business. Make sure that your organization has a well-thought-out Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place to ensure that personal tech meets the minimum security requirements for passwords, anti-virus software, etc.
Let’s face it. If your employees can’t access the data they need, they won’t be getting any work done. Make sure that all of the necessary files are accessible via VPN or the cloud for them to access from anywhere they may be. Additionally, make sure that your employees know to save files to the appropriate location, such as the company’s shared drive - a file saved to their desktop isn’t going to do them much good if they don’t have the ability to remotely connect to their specific computer.
Preparation is key when planning a successful work from home day. Before the bad weather hits, make sure your employees all know how to connect to the VPN, log in to their webmail, check their voicemail from home - whatever the case may be. For some employees, it may be beneficial for them to actually bring their personal (portable!) devices into the office to get them setup by an IT team member. Additionally, arming each employee with a phone list and a “how to” cheat sheet could be a huge help.
As it turns out, employees who work from home are often more productive than those who head into an office every day. So, that’s awesome! Try to encourage efficiency by making the call early enough that your team can make proper arrangements. If you can make the call while they’re still in the office the day before, that will allow them to bring home any files and hardcopy notes that they may need. Plus they can also make the necessary arrangements for child care (if work is closed, school probably is too), as well as make sure all of their devices are charging overnight, etc. The idea is to create an IT environment where the work can and will get done - as opposed to losing an entire day of productivity because the office is closed.
With snow storms - and other types of inclement weather - also comes the possibility of needing to put your company’s business continuity plan into full action. Take our quiz to see if your business is prepared to weather the storm.