In an interconnected world, businesses are finding that more and more of their work is heading online with remote working technology at the forefront of these changes. Traditional offices with dozens of tightly packed cubicles are becoming a relic of the past with flexible work arrangements consistently being a sought-after trait to acquire and retain the best talent.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, businesses with traditional business models have had to adjust their workplace environments to become more flexible. For many businesses, this has meant allowing employees to complete their work at home rather than at the office. This drastic and quick change in work conditions has led many businesses and employees alike to ask themselves ‘What do you need to work from home?’
At Connected Platforms, we’ve taken a look at some of the essential hardware and software tools that employees need to successfully work at home. With the right tools, making the transition from out the office into a home-based work environment can be a seamless process.
Remote Working Technology for Effective Remote Work
Initially, when an employee is asked to work remotely, they ask themselves the question ‘what do I need to work from home?’ There isn’t a simple answer to this question as it will vary from business to business based on the requirements of the tasks at hand. For a writer, all they might need is an internet connection, a PC, and a desk. Whereas a lawyer might need a PC with advanced security features to access their company’s secure network. While remote working technology does vary on a case by case basis, there are some hardware requirements that are
What Do You Need to Work From Home – Hardware Requirements
To get started with remote work, employees will generally need a few key pieces of hardware including:
- A secure network PC or laptop including a mouse and keyboard.
- A single or dual monitor setup depending on task requirements.
- A secured wireless network and router that provides reliable internet access.
- A web camera and a set of headphones for video and conference calling.
- A printer or scanner should there be a need to print and send customer documents.
- A dedicated phone line where customer calls can be routed if necessary.
With your hardware requirements secured it’s time to start looking at the software your employees need to complete their assigned tasks.
What Do You Need to Work from Home – Software Requirements
There’s an abundance of cloud solutions that your business and team can use when working remotely. From cloud-based services to collaboration tools such as Microsoft’s SharePoint, OneDrive and OneNote. While choosing software to use can be overwhelming with all the options out there, it’s important to select a set of software tools that are best tailored to your business goals and the expected tasks that your employees will need to complete while working from remotely.
In a remote working environment, it can be much harder for your team to collaborate on projects. Physically meeting around a boardroom table is almost impossible, unless the boardroom table is a virtual one. Try these collaboration tools to foster teamwork while working remotely.
- Microsoft’s OneNote – Software for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. Your team can gather notes, drawings, screen clippings, audio commentaries, and more. When combined with other powerful tools such as SharePoint and Microsoft teams, collaboration between your staff can ‘almost’ feel like working at the office.
- Confluence – Another powerful collaboration software program developed by Atlassian, it promotes free-flowing information, all-in-one place organisation, and a culture of open teamwork.
- Microsoft 365 Business – Offering cloud-based e-mail, storage, calendar, meetings, documents, spreadsheets, and more. Microsoft 365 Business brings together the Microsoft suite of services for your team members to easily collaborate on a wide range tasks and projects
For Task Management and Client Services
- Accelo – Designed for the professional service sector, their cloud-based software allows for sales, project, service, and retainer-based management solutions. Assigning employee tasks, managing ongoing projects, and easily organising client services & support is easy with Accelo.
- Todoist – Both for individuals and teams, Todoist helps manage your team’s tasks, files, and discussions neatly in one organised place. With Todoist you can track progress, plan and assign projects, share files, and discuss pertinent details so that you can deliver on time, every time.
Effective communication between team members and employers is just as important when working remotely. Keeping in touch with your staff provides a personal link and promotes team building.
- Microsoft Teams – One of our personal favourites, Microsoft Teams is a team and group chat application that can be used for screen sharing, voice, video, and conference calling. Best of all Microsoft Teams is built upon Microsoft’s Compliance Framework ensuring safe and secure usage between your employees.
- Slack – Another communication platform that offers IRC-style chat features that can be organised by topic, private groups and direct messaging. Incorporating voice, and video calling, it has become a popular option for information sharing between team members.
- Zoom – A relative newcomer to the communication game. It has shot to popularity of late with its cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform. With several advantages over its competitors, it’s easy to use and meeting invites can be sent out making conference calling extremely easy. It’s important to note that while Zoom is a powerful piece of communication software, they have recently faced public and media scrutiny related to poor information privacy practices and security vulnerabilities.
Our recommendation: Microsoft Teams, with both a free and paid version, under the compliance framework and Microsoft’s dedication to security and privacy, it is a good choice for businesses both large and small.
For Cloud Storage
Transitioning to cloud-based storage solutions are affordable and effective even when not working remotely. Having your data stored on a secure server with user-based access ensures the easy access to information your employees need to get their tasks completed on time. Not only are cloud-based storage solutions extremely affordable but they can also help your business work towards becoming paperless and eco-friendly.
There are many cloud-based storage solutions to choose from and some of our favourites include:
- Microsoft’s OneDrive – A file hosting service that synchronises with Microsoft’s Office 365 suite. If your employees are using office products across any of their devices, using OneDrive to share and disseminate information is effective and seamless.
- Microsoft Sharepoint – Another solid offering from Microsoft that brings together files in one central place. Customisable to suit the needs of your organisation, this cloud-based service makes sharing information between team members and business partners easier than ever.
For Security and Safety
Often overlooked but vitally important, is ensuring that the computer systems used by remote workers are safe and secure. At Connected Platforms, we don’t recommend employees use their home systems to access a company network without proper safety and security features implemented and checked first. Instead, opt to provide company laptops to your employees that have been secured with the latest anti-virus and security software. Keeping your company’s proprietary information safe while remote working can be a challenge but with the right remote working technology and training, your data can be just as secure as it is when working at the office.
As a guide some security and safety features that should be installed on every remote worker’s PC include:
- Antivirus Software – This will scan the computer for malicious files and provide on-going protection while using the PC.
- Firewall Software – This helps shield a computer from being hacked.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) – A VPN will help provide a secure connection to a company’s server.
- Internet Security Software – Designed to provide a safe online experience by blocking insecure and flagged websites, reduce the risks of ‘phishing’ and work to prevent malware and spyware from being installed onto your systems.
The Best Technology for Working Remotely with Connected Platforms
Need help transitioning your business and employees with remote working technology? At Connected Platforms, we provide complete business continuity management solutions Brisbane wide to keep your systems operating reliably at reasonable and affordable flat rates so that you can focus your energy on growing your business.
Our team of dedicated IT Procurement specialists can source the best technology for working remotely and provide the necessary skills and knowledge so that your business and team can seamlessly transition into more flexible working arrangements.