The world is changing. Companies are beginning to realise that work is no longer defined by where you are, but by what you do. A report by Condeco into changing workplace culture found that two-fifths of organisations in the US, UK, France, Germany, Australia and Singapore now offer employees the freedom to choose between working from home, the office or Anywhere.
It’s easy to see why. A two-year study by Stanford University discovered that productivity among home-based workers was equal to a full day’s work each week. It also increases employee retention and reduces the number of employee sick days. Employees seem to love it too – in the 2019 Buffer report into Anywhere employee attitudes, 99% said they would like to work Anywhere at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.
Moving to a flexible-work model can bring dramatic changes to a business. But a successful transition is only possible when you minimise disruption and encourage team engagement. Before choosing the best IT solutions for working from home, you must develop solid, scalable processes.
Your IT team will be on the frontline of this transition. They are vital to managing the new communication technologies and to maintain cohesion between team members. So how exactly do you prepare your IT team for the shift to distributed or Anywhere working?
LAY STRONG SECURITY FOUNDATIONS
Before beginning the move to an Anywhere work model, consider the impact it will have on each aspect of your business. That means talking with team leaders, a lot. Discuss their current objectives, challenges and the areas in which they want to grow. How will a shift to Anywhere work impact these?
Above all, it’s the responsibility of IT to educate others on the best working from home IT security practices. 38% of flexible workers and 15% of remote managers received no training on how to work remotely. Sri Bandaru, IT Manager at AnywhereWorks’ Chennai branch offers some simple steps to limit potential security risks when working from home:
“It’s important to ensure your team keeps all hardware and software up-to-date, with verified antivirus protection enabled at all times. Likewise, your team should be aware of best practices for spotting spam emails and other malicious communications. They should understand their personal responsibility when using unsecured WiFi networks and working through personal devices. Vigilance starts with knowledge, so it’s your job to give your team that knowledge.”
Some simple steps to limit potential security risks when working from home:
- Encourage everyone to update their hardware, software and antivirus protection – including verifying your router has encryption (WPA2 or WPA3) switched on.
- Share regular updates on best practices for spotting spam emails and other malicious communications, using unsecured WiFi networks and personal devices.
- Ensure people only use approved secure platforms and cloud services
- Centralise all relevant support materials in a secure location
- Conduct a security audit (passwords, software and hardware) and update your existing data security measures regularly
PREPARE YOUR ONBOARDING PROCESS
A recent survey by CareerBuilder suggests 36% of businesses neglect to implement a structured onboarding process for new employees. To give new arrivals the best start, configure processes with specific roles in mind.
Consider the scalability of your current onboarding process. How manageable is the current clock-in system? How do you verify overtime? Every element of your business will be impacted by the move to Anywhere; identifying and accounting for these changes will enable a smoother transition and set you up for future growth.
To effectively onboard future team members, you must place yourself in their shoes. Test each stage of the onboarding process with people not familiar with your company’s usual processes. Consider each current touchpoint with your team – how can you replicate them from home, the office, or Anywhere without disrupting processes?
These processes will evolve as you grow, but establishing a strong onboarding framework from the get-go is crucial to ensure future scalability. It’s also important to give new team members the best introduction to your company. An inefficient and stressful start to a new job sets a precedent that could put off new employees.
As Senthil Balakrishnan, IT Analyst for AnywhereWorks explains: “Our onboarding process is unique. We have to cover employees across three continents. We have to ensure the onboarding is 1:1 so that the new employee is comfortable and no check goes missed. We start with the basics of their connectivity, introduce them to the tools and applications they’ll be using and cover how to troubleshoot basic issues manually.”