How to Optimize a Remote Work Strategy for your Business
As organizations continue to suspend daily operations worldwide to minimize the spread of coronavirus, business leaders and owners are left with many questions to consider. The first and most prominent question for each leader at this time goes something like this: how do I care for my employees and customers, and protect my business in the days and weeks ahead?
With no established timeline for when physical locations will re-open, entire industries are learning to work remotely. Some businesses may already have the necessary technology and tools in place to help guide their people through this event. Still, for others to keep pace, each organization must quickly develop and execute a successful remote work strategy.
Listed below are several practical technology solutions to aid in creating your own strategy and seeing it through. Each of these solutions can be implemented quickly and inexpensively and provide long-term value to businesses of all shapes and sizes — and in some cases, might even provide a path to making remote work a permanent part of your company’s future.
Plan for an Emergency
Train for a Remote Work Scenario
Even if disruptions to business in your location are small, employees may still fear coming into the office. To ensure your business can still operate in the event of a sudden lockdown or alternative emergency, leaders can prepare now with live or recorded video training on the key tools needed for remote work if such a scenario arises.
If remote work does become a necessity (as it already has for many), ensure employees feel comfortable using remote tools, accessing important business information and knowing the basics to remote communication when working from home.
Communicate with Your Team
Now is an excellent time to get on the same page with your team as to how you’ll be communicating going forward. Several collaboration tools, including video conferencing services and apps for facilitating inter-office communication, can currently be accessed freely in light of the many offices forced to stay home while the coronavirus outbreak subsides.
Though current events have impacted many workplaces already, there is still time to formulate a plan, train on remote tools and get the gears of your business turning again.
Create a strategy for how you’ll provide critical information, whether that’s via email, a phone call, text message or a channel on your internal communications platform. Begin assembling key documents. Include a list of acceptable remote work applications — apps like collaboration software and communications platforms — that will support your remote workers. You’ll also want to clarify device policies and locate any gaps in data security.
Identify a central repository or app where employees can quickly access the important information needed to perform their duties while working remotely. Consider including contact info for key leadership personnel during a crisis via phone, email, and text.
Implement Essential Technology
Remote work requires technology that connects directly to the platforms, data, and processes essential to your organization.
While the trend has undeniably grown in popularity over the past few years, many businesses were caught unprepared to implement the processes necessary to keep things running smoothly outside of the office. However, there are still steps business leaders and owners can take now to get the right tools and technology in place to manage their businesses efficiently from home.
Internet Video Conferencing
As you can imagine, the use of video conferencing software, apps and services have increased significantly over the past few weeks. Web conferencing providers are reporting record usage as businesses, schools, and event planners migrate meetings and classes to conferencing platforms. Organizations new to these services are also quickly discovering the need for additional bandwidth to meet increased demand.
Under- or overestimating your bandwidth requirements can be costly and time-consuming to correct. If you need assistance in determining the right bandwidth for your business, your Cox Business representative has the experience and knowledge to assess your needs and provide you with a plan to meet your current situation and to navigate through times of heightened demand.
Business Phone, VoIP and Unified Communications
Maintaining clear communication with employees and consumers is an obvious prerequisite for any business impacted by current coronavirus safety measures. A reliable business phone system with features like unified communications (UC) can keep at-home coworkers on the same page with managers and clients.
With so much of today’s workflow already in flux, it’s best to keep communications as simple and centralized as possible. UC collects everything you need to stay connected on one platform, accessible from any location or device. With UC, services like email, instant messaging and SMS are all housed under one roof, allowing businesses to manage communications remotely and ensuring your employees and customers stay connected.
Crisis management can often come down to something as simple as making sure when a customer calls your business, someone answers. Making the switch to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) business phone system and utilizing UC can aid in your company’s efforts to keep the phones live and the lights on, even in unique circumstances.
VoIP allows you to route and reroute calls over the internet, making sure critical external communications can reach employees no matter their physical location. VoIP is a low-cost, practical solution vital to any business continuity plan.
Your business phone system can improve essential communications during a crisis by:
- Prioritizing and routing callers to appropriate staff members
- Providing access via a UC app on home devices or smartphones
- Delivering transcribed voicemail texts
- Hosting web conferencing calls for face-to-face meetings
- Allowing N-way calling for up to 15 callers on the line
- Plus these additional features
Once clear lines of communication are established, the next step to an effective remote work strategy is enabling easy collaboration between teams. Moving business data and processes to the cloud so they can be accessed from anywhere and from multiple devices is essential. The cloud incorporates remote work into day-to-day activities efficiently, letting coworkers share and edit files, reference important information and even access new training materials without the need for a local hard drive or endless email chains.
Moving business data offsite also provides an additional layer of security. Migrating critical data and processes to the cloud now can protect a business from any number of potential threats, including damage to or loss of company hard drives.
Mitigate the risk of losing important company data by investing in a reliable cloud solution for your business.
Intrusion Detection and Video Surveillance
Remote security monitoring is essential for businesses during a crisis. Depending on the emergency, law enforcement may face increased demands and fewer resources. Combined with businesses suddenly unable to let staff or employees on the premises for an extended period, the result is an unfortunate spike in opportunities for crime in low-traffic areas or remote locations.
One of the most valuable aspects of a business surveillance system is the ability to monitor various business locations through a mobile app or device.
Advanced security systems allow users to log into the app and quickly view both live and recorded video feeds from installed surveillance systems. These systems also allow multiple views into key areas of a business or property, plus searchable footage for specific timeframes to research specific incidents. With 24/7 alarm monitoring, smart detection, remote access and a variety of alert options, a security system gives business owners all the tools they need to remotely secure their workspace and rest easy knowing the business is protected 24/
Employees with Health Concerns
Employees may be fearful of visiting a doctor, urgent care provider or hospital, as doing so may increase their risk of exposure to coronavirus.
Incorporating telehealth into employee benefits can lessen that fear and anxiety. Platforms like Trapollo allow teams to access critical medical support without increasing exposure by going out into a public setting. Employees can also connect with their healthcare provider to ask questions or seek treatment for conditions other than coronavirus without risking exposure.
If your healthcare policy does not include a telehealth provider, this is an important option to consider.
What You Can Do Right Now
Here are 11 steps every business owner can take immediately:
- Identify the possible implications for the business.
- Develop or adjust a crisis response plan to meet specific risks.
- Establish a plan to communicate with customers.
- Plan to use videoconferencing as part of a remote work strategy and contact a Cox Business representative to confirm current bandwidth will meet increased demand.
- Migrate essential business practices and processes to the cloud.
- Update business phone and phone features to include VoIP and unified communications.
- Install a surveillance security system to manage your business security efficiently.
- Ensure employees are trained using essential remote work tools.
- Communicate with teams and detail the steps taken to protect both the teams and the business.
- Create or identify a secure central repository or app where employees can quickly access important information during a crisis.
- Consider incorporating a telehealth option for employees.
Contact us to Learn More and Explore Options for Your Business
Making Cox Business your technology partner provides you with a dedicated point of contact prepared to address the many needs of your company’s newly remote workers.