Just a few weeks ago, working from home was a perk that came with some job roles – now it’s a business operations requirement.
Business leaders know they have to transition, but may not know how to make telework work, or at least not how to make it work well, for their company. Many well-meaning vendors are coming out of the woodwork with one service or another that can support remote workers. Sorting through the noise to figure out what your company actually needs adds more tension to an already stressful situation.
To ease the burden and, hopefully, the confusion, we’ve put together a list of the essentials every team member needs to work from home.
A Computing Device
A desktop, laptop or tablet is essential for remote workers. It’s preferable that these are company-issued devices, with current processing speeds and up-to-date antivirus. These endpoints are essential for access to cloud-based apps or shared drives. Avoid having any company or customer information stored locally.
A Secure Connection
High-speed Internet access is another must-have. Most homes today already are outfitted with connections that are used for video streaming and gaming. These are typically sufficient for remote work as well. The caveat here is that with the whole family (as well as neighbors) all using the connections at the same time, your team may run into congestion. There are a few things they can do to fix that if needed. (See our blog: Make Home Internet Work for Business Applications.)
The bigger issue is making sure that your company data is secure. Aside from requiring passwords to access company assets, you should deploy a VPN, which:
- Hides your employees’ IP addresses
- Encrypts data in transit
- Masks your employees’ locations
If you don’t already have a VPN, be sure to pick a credible provider that you trust. And, once deployed, mandate use for all business activities. (Some companies also are extending use to personal activities as an extra perk for their teams.)
A Business Softphone that Works on Any Device
Here’s the dilemma: Your business phones are in your office and your workforce is at home. Sure, your staff can use their mobile phones, but then you have to deal with usage reimbursement and client contacts on personal phones. Neither is a good scenario for what might be weeks or months of sheltering in place.
A better option is to use a cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solution that includes a softphone, which is an application loaded on a desktop PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone that allows your team to make and take calls from their business phone number.
UCaaS duplicates office phone features, including your current dialing plans, outgoing caller ID and hunt groups. It also may include a number of productivity features, including the ability to chat, conference, video call and even SMS.
A Web Meeting and Collaboration Application
All departments across the board — from sales to marketing and accounting to IT – need to replace daily in-person meetings with each other and with vendors and clients. A cloud-based meeting solution can make that happen. These platforms offer a range of functionality, like audio and video conferencing to screen sharing, that enable your team to collaborate, conduct account reviews with clients and walkthrough product demos with prospective customers.
These applications are the must-have solutions to get your team up and running from their homes quickly and efficiently. Long-term, businesses will need to develop a business continuity plan to ensure they’ve got their operations buttoned-down six months from now and going into 2021 – but this is everything you need to get started.
A Cloud Productivity Application Suite
If you haven’t already fully migrated to cloud-based productivity apps like Microsoft Office 365 or G-Suite, you’ll need to get licenses for your home-based workers. These apps enable your team to access apps for email, creating documents, presentations, spreadsheets and more.
If not already enabled, remote access to specialized applications like CRM, ERP, accounting software, etc., may require the help of your IT solutions provider.
A Cloud-based File-sharing Solution
If it’s not already included in your productivity suite, you should consider a file-sharing application like Box or Dropbox to facilitate collaboration on projects in process. File sharing also makes sure that company information is stored in the company cloud and not on individual devices.
Of course, there are many other applications that can make remote work easier and more productive, but these are the essentials get your team working from home quickly and efficiently.
Once you’re set up, these solutions can become part of a larger business continuity plan to ensure you’re prepared if and when something comes along to interrupt business as usual.
Need Help Enabling Your Team to Work from Home?
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