The benefits of working from home seem plentiful at first. There’s more time to think, fewer distractions and the long commute can be swapped out in favour for a sit down and a coffee.
However, working from home also presents its own unique challenges. Not just in terms of preventing a sudden merge between work and homelife – but because people need people.
We don’t usually work in isolation – and we’re not meant to either.
We collaborate for exactly that purpose and most often, it’s our skillsets combined that produce outcomes with the greatest value to the business.
So, what happens when we abstract a workforce from its regular office habitat and how can we achieve the same level of care, collaboration and connectivity – digitally?
Moreover, how do you ensure that all of this is done securely?
In this feature, we’ll discuss some of the many ways you and your teams can stay in touch, access your work, communicate and collaborate – all through the power of technology.
One of the initial challenges involved in working remotely, is ensuring staff can actually do their jobs i.e. that they can access all the systems and applications that they need to work – from home.
Managing access as well as updates, backup, security and more – can be tricky. So, many companies make this a lot easier for themselves by offloading this to a DaaS (Desktop As A Service) provider.
This means that employees can connect to their work applications and see their desktop from anywhere on any device. And when this is managed by a Cloud Services Provider such as Digital Planet, you don’t need to worry about the setup.
Features such as multifactor authentication add an extra layer of control over who is accessing company systems and data and also, as it’s all wrapped up in a managed service, you can rest in the knowledge that you have 24/7/365 support.
Taking meetings online
With Skype For Business going End-Of-Life next year, many businesses are already starting to embrace Teams and explore the various features available within it. However, it’s much more than a messaging platform and the capabilities within the application are allowing for a highly agile and digitally collaborative approach to work.
Hold meetings, make calls, screen share, say ‘hi’ – whatever you need for your working day – it’s a chance to connect quickly and easily to people inside – and outside – your business.
There are also quite a few progressive features within Microsoft Teams that can really add to the experience – more so than if you were in person.
And you can even invite virtual bots to your meetings – not so much to chip in on your business strategies, but you can use them for voice commands and queries, much like we do with our phones.
Give your bot a name and a personality using pre-built chit-chat datasets – it’s a really nice feature that makes things a bit easier as well as a bit more fun.
And you don’t need to worry about what’s going on in the kitchen behind you during a video call as there’s a blur background feature too.
All you need is an Office 365 licence and you have access to Teams Online.
Microsoft Planner is also a great for communicating project progress as well as assigning tasks and sharing information. Use it in conjunction with Teams and you can keep different workloads separate and well-organised.
With regards to this, those working in locations with poor connectivity can also benefit from the new Teams optimisation feature included in the latest major Virtual Apps and Desktops release from Citrix.
It’s specifically geared up for improving interactivity and session responsiveness as well as reducing compute requirements – which is especially helpful when dealing with screen and image sharing as well as call quality, which can all be quite data-demanding.
Find out more about staying connected while working from home using Citrix here.
Working collaboratively – effectively
As well using Teams to communicate and collaborate, Microsoft SharePoint offers remote workers the capability to work from home at a moment’s notice. If you’re already set up, all you need is a PC and an internet connection and you can access all your files from home.
You can create, share and co-author documents and you don’t need to start emailing large files as everything can be stored centrally.
Not just beneficial for remote workers, SharePoint is one of those tools that once you have it, it’s almost impossible to do without.
One of the biggest challenges facing companies with regards to remote working is ensuring company data – be it their own or their customer’s – remains secure.
This in itself becomes a lot more difficult when staff move outside the digital confines of the office.
That’s why it’s so important to have the right approach and the right setup in place beforehand. That way, if you – or anyone from your business – need to work from home, then you can do it easily without worrying about data breaches or cyber threats.
How you achieve this exactly is down to how you work as a business as well as making sure you seek the technical expertise and guidance of an experienced cyber security partner. Not just to get you set up correctly but also to monitor, detect and protect risks to your business as well as react immediately should any breaches be identified.
Cyber security in itself is very complex which is exactly why it’s so important to have someone experienced take care of it for you – especially when you have more people working away from the office or you start increasing the number of platforms that company data passes through.
The opportunities to connect while working from home can be less visible.
You don’t pass your colleagues on your way to the kitchen. You might miss the chance to casually find out how their evening was. And lunchtimes are likely to be a little more isolated.
But they don’t have to be. It’s simply about changing our approach as well as the mindset in how we go about our day, while working at home.
The technical capabilities for building a platform for collaboration, connectivity and communication are vast.
And there’s nothing stopping you and your teams from finding ways to chat, share ideas, have lunch together as well as regular meetups – all while working away from the office.
Moreover, building on your own organisation’s digital culture will help grow the automatic connections we make so naturally in person. That way, we can be more proactive about engaging with each other on a virtual basis and we make the decision to interact rather than waiting for chance meetings.
By working together, we can open more and more opportunities to be both creative and innovative – online.
And by making this happen, we can hopefully pave the way for a more modern and flexible approach to office life in the future.
Find out more
If you’d like to talk to us about getting setup for remote working, simply get in touch.
We can help you with everything from making sure staff are set up with the right hardware, to the deployment and implementation of a full range of cloud, security, networking and collaboration services.