With the Coronavirus taking a firm grip on the world, businesses are urgently adopting working from home policies for employees to support social distancing and isolation in order to safeguard employees and reduce the potential impact on health care systems.
How will this affect organisations? Will workers still be able to work efficiently and access key business processes?
Establishing mass home working within a short deadline may prove to be problematic, you will want the best for your staff and the best for your organisation.
So, how can you maintain the welfare of your staff while working at home, ensure they remain productive and importantly, how will employees protect their social and family time from work commitments?
- 42% of staff say they feel more productive while working at home.
- 6 in 10 members of staff claim that one of the most preferred benefits is to be given the flexibility to work from home if needed.
- 44% of workers would prefer to work from home so they can spend more time with family.
- Many believe the office environment will disappear by 2030.
(Source: Zapier – ‘Will the office be obsolete by 2030?’)
Many business owners have conflicting views on the subject, but, with the current uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak, there is no longer an option with home-based working being the only solution temporarily.
As well as the social impact of home-working, access to key business software processes may hinder its effectiveness preventing employees from being able to carry out their day-to-day tasks. There are solutions available, Excelpoint’s strength is in the ability to make business processes available to remote workers, achieving this at speed and cost-effectively.
With remote working at a grand scale taking place, it is the responsibility of the tech sector to ensure the mass move to home-based working is effective and productive.
So, how can the employee and employer make this transition effectively?
As an employee, here’s how to prepare for a period of home-based working.
Create a workspace
Identify a room or corner of a room that can be a designated workspace. Where possible, convert a spare room into a temporary home office. This may be more difficult as not everyone will have the space to achieve this. The main aim is to try to replicate the working environment, creating an area and atmosphere comparable to your workplace.
Clock on and off
Remember to start and finish work within your normal working hours. It is very easy to fall into a bad routine, working less or in most cases excessively more hours when home-based or adhere to existing flexible working practices if they exist.
Friends and family
Whilst you are working from home, remember you are working. Try to educate friends and family that you have set working hours, but don’t forget to have regular breaks. Try to avoid doing odd jobs around the house, or family members having you run the hoover around or hang the washing out during office hours. These are tasks that can easily distract you from your work.
Test your technology to understand the limitations of internet bandwidth, mobile phone, audio and video capabilities. If technology allows, always use video as this enables the use of body language and helps build rapport with new relationships. Ensure you are well presented (at least the top half of you). If you are in a sales role, consider placing a pop-up banner behind you to provide branding and a better experience – you never know what is in the background.
As an employer here are some key points that should be taken into consideration to ensure successful home-based working.
Make sure home technology is good enough to enable staff to work at home
In the world we live in, we can sometimes take fast and reliable internet for granted, however, not everyone has fast internet speed. Also, some laptops and desktops may not be up to the job. Investing in some new mobile devices may be a positive move not just as the coronavirus takes control of the UK, but for future-proofing. If staff are using their own devices have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy and ensure everyone is aware of this.
Remember, if staff don’t have a company mobile phone you will need to ensure you have access to key contact details to enable regular keep in touch communication.
Are your business processes flexible enough to allow employees to work from home?
If your business processes are spreadsheet or paper-based this is going to cause issues. It will seriously limit how productive staff will be and may even make working from home impossible. Now maybe the time to consider business process automation, using this time effectively to digitise key processes and future proof the business.
Think about your staff wellbeing
Remember, homeworking can be an isolating experience for some people, therefore, regular communication can be a lifeline to overcome the feeling of remoteness. Some people will adapt seamlessly, being self-motivated and conscientious, while others will require goals to be set and regularly keep in touch communication. Video conferencing will simulate face-to-face interaction, normalising the workplace environment.
Ensure everyone is contactable
Always be contactable. That works both ways. Keep your phone on and close by, answer emails as normal and use online video phone calls. Having the ability to see and talk to work colleagues, customers and managers will help to eradicate any feelings of isolation. Remember, if staff don’t have a company mobile phone you will need to ensure you have access to key contact details to enable regular keep in touch communication and be aware of your GDPR obligations in respect of this sensitive personal information.
Try to be as connected as possible, even though you are not working in the same office, it is still extremely important to ensure teams stay connected. Keep staff in the loop and updated with information important to them. Employees must also keep the business up to date with work progress and any issues they are experiencing. Forgetting to communicate about the daily activities and week to week business tasks may overtime make the business disjointed and unproductive.
What about your customers
Don’t forget to take into consideration your customers. They may not be as flexible and may need out of hours support. Remember, not all organisations will have the technology to hold video conferencing, and in some important cases may still require a carefully planned face to face meeting.
Ensure customers are aware of the change of circumstances and what, if any, the effect it may have on them.
Ensure staff are communicating regularly with the customer and are continuing to meet their needs.
So, how can Excelpoint support you in this move to mass home-based working?
Here at Excelpoint, we develop and configure our software technology to automate repeatable day to day tasks to ensure compliance, efficiency and to realise cost savings.
The key objective is to identify challenging business areas or high-value activities that can be fully or partially automated.
As our software is a no-code system-building platform we can deliver solutions rapidly. Our solutions can provide access to information in other systems via desktop and mobile devices, and with a standard browser. Importantly, we have also recently launched a unique stand-alone mobile application to facilitate off-line working. The application provides the capability to run entire business processes remote and even on hand-held mobile devices without any data connection.
We can quickly and easily provide new data capture capabilities to allow the collation of information to support key decisions and disseminate important business information or transactions so that everyone has the information they need to operate – important in a world where the challenges are constantly changing.
So, if your employees require access to the main business systems to ensure effective and productive home-based working, we can support you in achieving this at speed, ensuring your business continues to be flexible and function efficiently.