The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Preparing Teams For Remote Work
Amidst growing coronavirus (aka COVID-19) concerns, more companies are urging employees to work from home. Working from home requires specific technology capabilities, and most small businesses will need to do some preparatory work to ensure their teams can get their best work done remotely.
Make sure your team has reliable internet access
Not all internet connections are created equal, and ensuring quality, fast access for everyone on your team is priority #1 when transitioning to remote work.
“Quality” and “fast” have different meanings, depending on the type of work being done. For example, most high-speed internet plans offer approximately 5 - 10 Mbps (Megabits per second). These speeds won’t be enough if your employees need to do video conference calls or download large files, though.
Ideally, everyone will have a 20 Mbps connection for both uploads and downloads. During the coronavirus outbreak, some internet service providers (ISPs) are offering increased bandwidth for free, but your employees will need to call their ISP to learn about availability.
Cellular hotspots are another great option, especially for employees who can’t access high-speed internet at home.
Evaluate the online services your company uses
When you can’t meet in person, online tools and services become even more vital to keeping the business running. Every company should have:
- Communication software, like Slack or Microsoft Teams, so teammates can keep the lines of communication open.
- Project management tools so that everyone knows exactly what projects and tasks to work on (here are 5 of the Best Project Management Tools for Small Businesses).
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) software if your employees need to access software, applications or files from home. However, while VPNs can greatly increase security, some companies may find that document repository services like Dropbox and Google Drive are a more affordable way to ensure everyone has access to the documents they need.
Your company may have additional technology requirements. Spend some time thinking about the tools you need most, but be mindful of cybersecurity best practices that will keep your most important data safe. If you aren’t sure what those best practices are, this guide explains the basics: An Intro to Cloud Security for Small Businesses.
Do your employees have the equipment they need to work from home?
Many people who work from a computer already use a laptop and have some type of home office setup. But, don’t automatically assume that your employees have everything they need to work comfortably.
For example, if some team members rely on a desktop computer from the office, they’ll need a laptop or desktop at home. Workers that don’t have a dedicated home office may need to purchase a simple desk and chair, an external monitor or other essential equipment. It may seem like an unnecessary expense during uncertain economic times, but increased productivity will hopefully offset the costs.
Consider onboarding a virtual assistant
As your company adjusts to the new realities of working from home, you may find that you need some extra help to keep things running smoothly.
Virtual assistants are a great solution because you only pay for the services and support your business needs when you need them. Intelligent Office’s (IO’s) virtual assistants are trained for a variety of responsibilities, including phone answering and customer service. They can take tasks off your plate while you focus on other parts of the business.
Once the crisis has passed, consider maintaining a remote work policy
Eventually, life will get back to normal and your workers will be able to return to their usual place of employment. However, during this work from home experience, you may find that remote employees are far more productive than you originally thought.
Increased productivity is one of the major benefits of remote working, but it’s not the only perk. Don’t miss this insightful post from the IO blog archives to learn more: The Benefits of Remote Working.