Remote Work is Here to Stay

3 Important Things You Should Consider When Creating a Sustainable Home Office Option

Gone are the days of Monday morning chats over the coffee machine. Or at least so it seems. This year we have witnessed a transformation in the way we work. The pandemic has made a reality out of something once considered wishful thinking by some and a lengthy process by others. Confronted with suspending operations completely or risking reduced productivity, many heads of companies opted for the latter and transferred to an online format.

Person using a laptop on a bed

Image: Marta Filipczyk / Unsplash

As a result, managers have realized that their teams do not necessarily need to be present in the office in order to be productive. Twitter and Fujitsu have already announced plans to allow staff to work from home permanently.

But it’s not just companies who are ushering the post-pandemic wave of remote work in, it’s also politicians. A bill presented by Hubertus Heil, the Federal Minister of Labor and Social affairs in Germany, hoped to define remote work as a right, allowing employees to work from home or elsewhere outside of the office for a minimum of 24 days a year. Despite failing to gather enough support, one thing is clear: the days of remote work being a remote possibility are over.

What does this mean going forward? Whether you decide to allow employees to work remotely full-time or to implement a hybrid model, it’s important to create a model that will endure. Many of the models created in the wake of corona were constructed hastily.

Rather than being the results of carefully crafted digital transformation plans, they were the products of adaptability and agility. This was of the utmost importance for leaders reacting in a crisis, but it is time to revise these models. When transitioning from a temporary model to a sustainable one, it’s important to center security, reliability, and employee well-being.

Security: Security is More than Secure Hardware and Software

Whether you have an IT team or are outsourcing your IT needs, it’s important to identify what your business requirements are and which legal obligations you have. Once you have completed such an assessment, you should create a clear policy for employees who are working remotely.

Remote work expands the amount of vulnerabilities that a company has when it comes to cyber attacks. The success of a large amount of these attacks can be traced back to the actions of individuals . As such, it is essential to create policies and protocol that outline how employees should use their devices and handle data.

Policies should include technical security controls such as antivirus software, firewalls and multi-factor authentication as well as comprehensive training for employees. Something as simple as an employee logging on to the WiFi at their neighborhood café or sending files via email could compromise the data security of your company.

Trainings should be educational and make employees feel confident in their interactions with the new infrastructure. And it shouldn’t just stop at one training. Trainings should be ongoing in order to address the implementation of new software or hardware and the ever-changing landscape of cybersecurity.

Security is central to a long-term shift and includes not only making sure that your hardware and software are secure, but also that your team is well informed. (For more on security tips, see 4 Tips to Get Started with IT Security

Reliability: Reliable Software, Hardware and Internet Connectivity are a Must

Person using laptop

Image: Christin Hume / Unsplash

Communication tools are indispensable for remote work. Whether you need to communicate with a colleague or have a meeting with a potential client, having the ability to video chat or use IP (Internet Protocol) voice telephony will restore the familiarity of a telephone call or a face-to-face chat in the conference room.

It is essential that these tools function flawlessly. While colleagues may be more forgiving, a new client may see a glitch as a sign of disorganization and unreliability. A study conducted in 2014 revealed that even a slight delay of 1.2 seconds gave people the impression that the person they were communicating with was “less friendly or focused.” Don’t let common server issues or slow Internet connection define the way someone sees your company.

Reliable hardware is also crucial to a positive remote work experience. Recreating an office at home is not as simple as replacing office essentials with personal devices. For security reasons, private telephones and computers should never be used for work purposes. Therefore it’s necessary for your staff to use work-specific devices.

Making sure that these are reliable and up-to-date allows your employees to spend their time focusing on their work instead of troubleshooting computer problems. But simply providing company laptops is not enough. Work devices also need to be repaired from time to time, which raises the question: Who is responsible for fixing a work laptop when a problem occurs, the employee or the company? Developing a policy for how your company will deal with such cases will save both yourself and your staff time and stress as well as ensure uniform treatment is given to all employees. (With LaceWing Hardware, we take care of that for you.)

Employee Well-being: Employees Should Have a Say in Remote Work Policies

Person using laptop

For the vast majority, our home office does not look like this. Image: Avi Richards / Unsplash

Last but certainly not least, it is important to consider the well-being of your employees. It’s hard to miss the numerous headlines trumpeting impressive productivity rates over the last half a year, but this isn’t necessarily representative of the longterm. The environment in which remote work has taken place this year is not the standard.

This year’s home office trend was born out of necessity and not a choice that employees took across the board. It is important to discuss different models of working from home with staff in order to ensure their needs are being met. While one employee may relish in the flexibility remote work offers, another may find its solitary nature unbearable.

We all have different living situations that affect our ability to work at home. Not everyone has access to a separate room in which they can work. Many people have commented that in addition to isolation, the lack of a clear separation between work and personal space has been one of the biggest disadvantages of working from home.

It is important to consider the different realities of your employees and make remote work a possibility and not a requirement. This ensures that everyone has a choice in deciding where and how they want to work. Designing a home office plan that aligns itself with the wishes of your employees and considers their well-being is essential to creating a sustainable remote work solution.