High Touch Technologies has been closely following the news of the coronavirus outbreak. As a technology partner and service provider, we recognize that this outbreak is significantly changing how business is done.

In addition to throwing a wrench in the technology hardware supply chain, the outbreak is limiting human-to-human interaction. We recommend that you review the CDC’s guidance for businesses, and review or develop the necessary remote work plans for your business

To help get you started, we’ve compiled some ideas you should consider when developing your remote work strategy. With the right tools, infrastructure, and plan in place, your business can continue to be productive and collaborative while employees work remotely.

Business Considerations for Developing and Managing Your Remote Work Plan

When developing a remote work plan, there are many business-critical decisions you need to examine during the process.

Mission-critical roles and tools

The first step in building a remote work plan is examining the types of employee roles that are critical to keeping the lights on, in tandem with reviewing who may already be able to work remotely. Prioritize the functions that are necessary for business continuity, and empower those that can work remotely to test their home setups and be ready if that need arises.

When thinking through business continuity, think about how you serve customers and the important steps in your workflows. From there, you can look at the internal systems, like databases and CRM tools, that these employees need to access. If these employees need to do their jobs remotely, how can they continue to access the technology tools necessary to perform their jobs?

Additionally, you need to consider how your workflows may need to be rearranged if employees are unable to perform their roles or if their duties need to be completed remotely.

Examine telephone and conferencing capabilities

If you’re used to daily face-to-face collaboration, the thought of switching to an all-remote workplace can be daunting. When managing your remote work plan, consider taking inventory of your digital collaboration tools and phone system capabilities. There’s no shortage of tools out there—your organization should be on the same page when it comes to the collaboration tools it’s using and how they’re being used.

Nail down your decision-making process and workflows

For many companies, in-office workflows don’t mirror remote workflows directly. What plans are in place for communication, both internal and external, when implementing a remote work plan?

As we’ve previously mentioned, defining your mission-critical roles is key to setting up remote workflows. Furthermore, if your team isn’t used to working remotely, ensure you provide them guidance on how to effectively work remotely. One article we like is this one from NPR: 8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You.

5 Technology Considerations When Developing or Analyzing Your Remote Work Plan

1. Hardware

Do your employees have the tools they need to get their jobs done from home? Think about laptops, desktops, monitors, mobile devices—anything and everything you use to get your daily job done. In addition, you may need to reevaluate your business’s bring your own device (BYOD) guidelines. You may consider letting employees take home equipment that will better allow them to work productively (monitors, keyboards, webcams, etc.)  Also, make sure to remember essentials like charging cables.

2. Collaboration tools

With instant messaging, video conferencing, and file-sharing tools, you can make any meeting feel like you’re sitting in the conference room across the table from each other. Tools like Microsoft Teams give remote workers a platform to continue to collaborate in real-time when unable to meet in person. Additionally, HD Video Conferencing tools from Lifesize can help your team and business stay in touch, face-to-face.

3. VPNs, data backup, and file sharing

Securely managing your important files can be a challenge for remote teams. When building your remote work plan, consider how you plan to access existing files, how you plan to backup new files, and how you can continue to share files quickly and securely. Many collaboration tools like Teams also enable easy file sharing, just ensure your whole team is on the same page in regards to basic functionality:

4. Call routing

Even though you’re working remotely, calls will continue to come in. You want people to know if you’re still open for business. If your business has a main office number, or if you spend a lot of time on conference calls, consider how to route your phones to mobile devices and home offices. Also, consider changing your on-hold messages to reflect any changes your business is making to how you handle calls.

5. Cybersecurity

Working remotely poses new cybersecurity risks. Opening more digital pathways for communication and collaboration between employees can potentially unlock new doorways for cyberattacks to occur. Make sure your remote plan includes the proper cybersecurity precautions. Don’t let basic guidelines go out the window – now isn’t the time for employees to write down all their passwords on a post-it so they remember them at home. Reinforce basic safety guidelines, and consider multifactor authentication (MFA) or a password manager if your company doesn’t use one already.

Questions About Managing Your Remote Work Plan?

High Touch provides Technology Consulting services to help businesses review and understand technology needs for their remote work plans. Contact us to learn more.

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