work better from home

Helping your team work better from home

Now that huge swathes of the population are settled in to a new Working From Home routine and we’ve moved past the initial “get things working” stage, it’s important to consider a “get things working properly” approach.

A recent survey by Atlas Cloud suggests that:

  • 34% of people who have started working from home say their work is being hampered by poor wifi or poor broadband – usually a result of sitting in the dining room, conservatory or a spare bedroom that’s a long way from the internet router.
  • 25% of home workers say they’re still using their personal laptop or computer, with 18% not even needing a password to log on to those devices.   20% of those say the computer they’re using just isn’t up to the job, which is badly affecting their work productivity.
  • 57% of home workers believe their employer should be doing more to help them work better when at home.

I’ve therefore put together a short list of 3 ways we may be able to help those who are working at home become more productive, more secure, and more stable.   These have come from client feedback – either where I’ve spoken to people directly about their new challenges, or where they’ve called our helpdesk for assistance to try to overcome the issues the survey highlights above.

Poor Internet/Poor WiFi

Often “poor internet” is actually a wifi problem.  Very few people are fortunate enough to have a dedicated home office, and even with our team we’ve found some are working in conservatories, spare bedrooms and kitchen tables that are too far from the internet router to get a decent wifi signal.   Even if Wifi is strong, internet speeds designed for family use can struggle to cope with a combination of VPNs, Netflix, Xboxes…or even multiple family members all trying to work from home at the same time.

A business-grade wifi access point can quickly create a dedicated, secure wifi network for those working from home, immediately improving security and boosting coverage.

For those with poor internet speeds, or where the family is competing for bandwidth, and where working from home is likely to be a semi-permanent or permanent solution, I would strongly suggest a separate internet connection.  For as little as £30/month for a separate phone line with broadband it can introduce consistency, reliability and security all in one go, and when configured with a permanent connection back to head office it can also remove any VPN woes and issues related to access to office-based servers.

Back ache and head ache

Moving from a familiar, regular desk to a kitchen table, computer desk or piece of wood between a bed and side table (real example!) can cause back aches, and small laptops screens or old monitors combined with dark back bedrooms or ultra sunny conservatories can cause eye strain and headaches

Supplying home workers with a modern, fully adjustable, monitor with the latest eye-care technology can cost as little as £120 and can make the world of difference.   Workplaces carry out health and safety assessments and make sure everything is the right height but this can easily be overlooked when someone’s suddenly thrust in to home working. For those used to having two screens at work, moving to a single screen can have huge impacts on productivity, and it’s worth making the effort to try to replicate the office environment as closely as possible.

Virus and malware risks

In the rush to get everyone set up to work remotely when lockdown was introduced, many businesses bought laptops, got staff set up using their personal devices or simply let them take their office computer home.   Often overlooked was the security of those personal devices and it’s now hugely important to ask three simple questions about the computers being used at home:

  • Do they have antivirus software installed and is it up to date?
  • Is the operating system secure? Windows 7 is equally insecure at home as it is at work
  • Is the computer’s operating system and software up to date with security patches?

If the answer to any of these is ‘no’ then as soon as a VPN connection is made to your office, then you’re as insecure as you would be answering ‘no’ to these questions when looking at your main system

AntiVirus licenses can be added to your current subscription very quickly and very cheaply, and Systemagic will cover devices being used to work from home under existing support agreements provided they’re running Windows 10. This means you could get us to keep them safe and secure for no extra money, just by letting us know what devices people are using.

Having spoken to numerous clients in the last fortnight, it’s clear that many are intending to continue having staff work remotely for as long as possible.   We must therefore start looking at the home set-ups of these home workers with a more permanent mindset.   After all, businesses that ensure good productivity and happy staff will be far better placed to recover and thrive in this new normal. If you’d like any more information on how your team can best operate from home don’t hesitate to contact us today.

 

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