If a business fails to ensure it is adequately prepared for large numbers of staff to work outside of the office it exposes itself to a number of risks. Careful planning is essential to ensure a company will effectively operate as usual. Not only does a business need to consider potential technology changes, but issues surrounding security, management and business continuity also need to be taken into account.
So what are the key considerations for businesses to ensure they’re prepared for 2012?
Make technology suitable – Perhaps the most important initial consideration is whether your business’ infrastructure is ready to enable home working; are applications suitable for remote use? Whilst intranet or web based applications will be suitable, windows based applications require remote desk top.
Consider security – Employers have no control over the equipment employees have at home, or the potential security vulnerabilities such as viruses on them. A decision needs to be made on whether you will provide all members of staff with a laptop or take the risk of trusting the equipment they are using, or provide security measures for each person’s home equipment.
Are we compatible? – For those relying on employees using their own equipment, consideration also needs to be given to the type of device being used. Not everyone has a PC and some people might be planning to work from a mac, iPad or even smart phone. It must be ensured that these are compatible to the business’ systems.
Customers need to be protected – Some companies will have a legal requirement to ensure customers’ data is secure and protected. Extra measures need to be put in place if employees are going to be accessing this information from home.
Not everyone can work from home – Be aware that for the majority of businesses there will need to be a physical presence in the office, most likely for reception, customer facing roles, IT and security duties. Those few who cannot work from home are likely to be disgruntled, and so a rota which means the same few are not on duty the whole time might be needed. Those expected to work may also struggle to arrive on time if the Government’s warnings about transport in the capital during the Olympics prove correct. Consider paying them overtime to arrive early.
What plans are already in place? – Many businesses are likely to have business continuity plans in place. Now is the time to review those plans and perhaps put them into use as if your office has been damaged. For those that do not have one then now is the time to consider putting a plan together.
A change in management skills – Whilst productivity might increase through the morale gains of home-based working, distractions might also cause a dip in productivity, particularly with the Olympic games on the TV and radio. Team managers will need to change their ways of thinking in terms of managing and assessing workload and productivity.
Plan cover for employees – Be aware that a large number of employees will also be looking to take time off as holiday, not only due to the Olympic Games, but there is also a three day week during the Queen’s golden jubilee. Organisations need to ensure staff numbers are adequately covered to ensure the business can function as normal.
Don’t forget the supply chain – It isn’t only a company’s employees that need to be covered – businesses outside of the capital may incur a lot of holiday requests too, and so it is imperative to ensure that the supply chain is equipped to cope too.
Testing is key – Problems can only be discovered through testing. Here at MSM Software, once a year we send everyone home to work for a day, to ensure that they are able to do so should there every be a requirement. Through this testing we’ve discovered small problems that hadn’t even been considered to have an impact. For example, strange as it may sound, we had one member of staff who only realised when she tried to work from home that she didn’t have a table or desk to work from!