It wasn’t too long ago that working from home was seen by many as a bit of an oxymoron.
Whilst most of us could respond to a few emails and complete basic tasks remotely, the notion of a full productive day’s work at home with an old laptop and minimal access to systems, software and data was hard to get your head around. Or at least this was the outdated perception for those lacking vision.
But then came the pandemic and our office, the central hub for all our work, moved to our kitchens, spare rooms, bedrooms or even our cars in some unusual cases.
Inevitably some firms will want everyone back under the same roof or adopt a hybrid approach. But if you’re one of the 74% of businesses planning to maintain the rise in home working, it may be time to spring clean your digital office…
Security health check
All offices which rely on IT equipment are vulnerable to cyber-attacks or phishing scams. Unfortunately, working from home has increased the risks with over half of IT experts saying remote workers will expose their organisation to a possible data breach. Not only can this do irreputable damage to your reputation, it can become very costly, so it’s essential you have the right procedures in place and regularly check your team is following them.
This includes ensuring your employees only use devices approved by your IT support team, any software used is regularly updated, computers are password protected in case of theft and sensitive information is only saved on your secure systems and not kept ‘offline’ in personal folders. You may want to consider other security measures such as VPN access.
During lockdown the systems for remote working have evolved considerably. There are numerous video calling platforms (Teams, Zoom, Google Meet) and cloud storage systems (SharePoint, Dropbox).
If you’ve been using a mix and match approach, it may be time to formalise everything under one roof. Having a more structured setup using one ecosystem (e.g. Microsoft or Google) can increase productivity and save time.
Just under half of businesses are using a BYOD (bring your own device) setup for remote working, i.e. letting employees use their own laptop or computer.
As with the security risks mentioned above there are other things to consider with this approach (take a look at this great article here).
Whatever system you have in place, it’s important your team isn’t relying on slow, outdated IT equipment as this can be a real hinder to productivity. So, it may be time to invest in some new devices to get your team up to speed.
Sadly, the pandemic is ‘likely to have a profound effect on mental health’ which is why it’s important all businesses regularly speak with their employers and ensure support processes are in place. Small things such as organising team online quizzes or book clubs can be a real boost.
There’s no doubt many of us have become more sedentary working from home and there’s a clear link between exercise and mental wellbeing. Encourage your team to take regular screen breaks to get fresh air and, during meetings, include five-minute breaks every hour.
The second most popular phrase during a video call must surely be ‘sorry, my internet just died’ (the first being ‘you’re on mute’). The internet is the glue which holds together remote working.
Now, it’s fair to say most of us have just about managed during the pandemic with our 40Mbps coping with our requirements so it’s easy to become complacent. But that ‘coping’ will quickly turn to ‘struggling’ and then then finally become ‘seriously problematic’. And it will happen sooner than you think. Here’s why…
Firstly, everything is getting bigger. From photos, videos to presentations, the file sizes we use continue to increase. That means they take more time to download and, importantly more time to upload to your company’s server.
Secondly, we’re using more data at once. At any given moment you might be streaming a video call, downloading some files to work on and waiting for 30 Chrome tabs to load. Not to mention your kids playing video games and your partner streaming a 4K film next door. That 40Mbps doesn’t seem that much anymore.
So, what can we do? The existing broadband infrastructure most of us rely on is called Superfast broadband, also known as Fibre-To-The-Cabinet. The problem is these networks contain Victorian copper cables which are not designed to deliver a fast speed. They’ve reached their peak and can’t get any faster. The only solution is to build new full-fibre networks, free of copper, to deliver 18 times faster speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. Connectivity is also far more reliable and you’re therefore less likely to see drop outs during peak times.
If businesses and employees want to thrive working from home then we need to accelerate the rollout of full-fibre (we call it REAL FIBRE). Building these networks takes time (up to 18 months) so we need to start now because otherwise it will be too late. Fortunately, we’re well underway with our rollout across the East of England. Click here to find out if we’re coming to your village and see how you can help digitally futureproof your community.