Help, our teleworking policy sucks!
As we’re passing the Covid-19 peak, it’s getting harder and harder to remember exactly what it was like to work full-time at an office, surrounded by all of our colleagues. Or it should be, at least, provided that we’ve all been working from home without a hitch over the past few months, and you didn’t have to deal with one of the following problems.
- Are there still some tasks you simply cannot do from home?
- Have you noticed that colleagues are starting to lose touch?
- Are you struggling with capacity issues?
- Are you concerned your infrastructure might not be properly secure?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, an efficient technical teleworking policy is just what you need. After all, there is no doubt about it: structural teleworking will remain the norm for some time to come, especially now that lots of people have started to notice the positive impact it is having on their work-life balance.
So, what are the essential things to consider when drawing up a technical teleworking policy?
Do you feel like you could use a little help implementing your technical teleworking policy once you've finished reading this article?
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A secure and efficient teleworking system
It goes without saying that all colleagues need the right hardware and software to be able to work from home efficiently. To make sure all devices work optimally and comply with the latest security requirements, you need to stay in control of their configuration.
That’s certainly a start, but efficient home working does not stop there.
Access to the company network is essential to be able to work just as smoothly at home as you do in an office. Generally speaking, there will be lots of (mainly sensitive) data that remains on premise, or in other words, on your own systems. So, how can you access this securely? Enter VPN!
Using a VPN connection (Virtual Private Network), colleagues can securely connect to the company network from their own home office. This allows them to supplement the CRM database or process invoices or personnel files, for example, without having to leave home.
If you’re already ticking off the VPN check box in your head: great!
...have you thought about the fact that your VPN capacity might not be sufficient or might become insufficient in the future? And can you confidently say your VPN server is completely up to date?
It’s important to take a moment to reflect on these things, as not doing so could land you in all kinds of cybersecurity trouble. Cyberattacks and data leaks are not a laughing matter!
That said, isn’t a secure VPN connection all you need? Not quite! Here are a few more things to consider:
- Make sure your employees are fully aware of cybersecurity issues.
- A good password policy, including multi-factor authentication, is a must.
- Arrange the necessary protection against viruses and enable a remote wipe option.
These things are certainly an investment, but just imagine what could happen if you decided not to invest in them!
That’s all well and good, but what about the cloud?
Online collaboration via collaboration platforms such as Google Suite or Office 365 certainly makes teleworking a whole lot easier. If you’re not yet familiar with these tools, here’s the deal: by logging in to these platforms, colleagues can access your company data using their own devices.
This is really quite useful, because:
- Multiple people can collaborate at the same time on all kinds of documents (in your own corporate style, if necessary). You can see who has made which changes, and everything is saved automatically.
- You can create your own folder structure, so that the platform is fully tailored to the internal working methods of your company.
- Through access management, you can decide who has access to which folders or files, and you can allocate custom editing rights within those structures.
The main advantage of the cloud in teleworking situations is: speed.
Let’s take a closer look at that claim: when your data are on premise, you are reliant on the bandwidth of the upstream connection of that on premise location. When your data are in the cloud, you get to make the most of the gigantic bandwidth of the cloud provider. In other words: when all your colleagues are trying to access on premise data while working from home, things will run a lot slower than when everyone is at the office.
The choice is obvious, right?! Unfortunately, we can’t just walk around with our heads in the clouds: yet again, there are security issues to consider. Examples include:
- Accounts can be hacked. Once again, multi-factor authentication offers a solution, as does encryption.
- Cloud environments need to be kept up to date. Who is responsible for making sure security patches are installed?
- Which data do you need to back up? And how often should you do so?
- Which policies do you apply to external devices?
Yet more food for thought!
Extra tools to guarantee efficient teleworking
Calling a quick meeting to discuss an issue, popping round to someone’s desk to pick up a document or catching up on weekend happenings at the coffee machine: if teleworking is not the norm at your company, you need to make an extra effort to make sure people stay connected.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to bring office life right into our homes. Of course, not all of these tools are suitable for every occasion. As such, you need to think carefully when putting together a tooling landscape.
Online meetings and exchanging information
Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, BlueJeans: we're sure these names will ring a bell.
But here’s the thing: Zoom is great for getting information out to all employees at the same time, but it takes a little while to get set up, so Google Meet might the better option for a quick status update.
By the way, here’s a tip on a handy, all-in-one tool: Slack (it’s certainly one of our favourites!):
- You can talk to multiple colleagues and external parties via (private) channels.
- Direct messages allow you quickly check in with a colleague — say goodbye to that overflowing mailbox!
- Video calls and screen sharing are also easy to set up.
- If you’re chatting informally with others, a great set of emojis can help liven up the conversation (allowing you to make up for the lack of body language — to some extent at least!).
- Slack also offers integration with lots of other tools, enabling you to work super smoothly while keeping a clear overview.
You might think that remote brainstorming is just too difficult to pull off, but nothing could be further from the truth!
A brainstorming session with some colleagues at the office and others calling in from home can be highly effective if everyone uses a Google Jamboard to note down their ideas. At the end of the session, you can simply share the Jam with all the right people as a document via Google Suite.
Online project planning
Where did you save that one file you need? Who has been allocated which to-do list? And what was the deadline again? If you’re used to working with physical whiteboards at the office to keep track of every project, working from home might leave your team feeling a little frazzled.
But hang on in there for a moment: there’s no need to put anything on hold just yet!
Contact with colleagues is an essential part of a typical working day at the office. A simple “good morning!”, a lively lunch or a quick catchup over a coffee: all these things disappeared overnight when we started working from home.
Not exactly without consequences: social isolation and losing touch can lead to reduced motivation.
A tool like Slack (there it is again!) doesn’t only let people work together smoothly in a professional context: you can also use it to just chat or mess about — in other words: to keep that connection with your colleagues alive. How, you ask?
First of all, Slack simply enables colleagues to talk to each other — just like the old times! But on top of that, you can also create informal channels which people can join or leave whenever they want to. A channel to swap lunch recipes? A channel with a new joke of the day every morning? Or a channel to discuss the weekend’s match results? It’s all possible!
Proper IT support is indispensable
Last but not least: remote support is an essential element of any technical teleworking policy. After all, something is bound to go wrong at some point. ;-)
At those times, the ability to fall back on your (own) team of IT professionals is a godsend. They can solve problems remotely and make sure that all the right steps are taken in terms of security.
Here’s just some idea of what they can do for you:
- Help colleagues who have forgotten a password.
- Solve sound issues during online meetings.
- Fix printer problems
- Deliver support for and take part in IT projects
- Deliver new hardware on location
- Maintain information systems
- Secure small to medium-sized networks
Conclusion: greater efficiency takes a little effort, but it’s worth it in the long term
You’ve probably realised by now that a laptop for every employee and a few basic security measures is just the start. Investing in a proper technical teleworking policy, including all tools and systems relevant to your company, will soon yield fantastic results in terms of efficiency — and that can only be a good thing for everyone at your company!
But where to start? If you’re struggling to get started, we’d be more than happy to help you set up your technical teleworking policy. Reach out to us, and we’ll discuss your needs!