Remote working: How your team can work from home effectively in the UK
There are plenty of reasons to embrace remote working. Allowing employees to work from home, or wherever they happen to be, can free up valuable office resources and boost morale. As your company grows, remote working also lets you find and hire talent without having to restrict your search to the radius of your headquarters. At the same time, managing a remote workforce can present challenges in terms of productivity and security.
Why are you working from home?
Like any business process, remote working needs to be managed. A policy should be in place that dictates the goals of remote working, plus measures by which you can identify whether something needs to change.
“It could be that you’re a small business, and you already have an office, but you decide ‘we want flexibility for our employees,’” noted Chris Martin, CTO of conferencing specialist Powwownow. “That might be parents, who want to take their children to a crèche or to school. Or, it might be about productivity and efficiency – allowing people to focus on projects without distractions.
“Then your organisation needs to put together guidelines on the expectations of people working remotely. For example, that they’re going to be able to attend meetings as if they were in the office, and be available for ad hoc communications. Plus, silly things like keeping their diaries up to date so that people can see when they’re available.”
Equally important is to manage the expectations of those workers who remain in the office. “People in the office mustn’t exclude the remote workers from all that’s going on,” warned Martin. “Everyone needs to be familiar with the set of tools that remote workers use, so that anyone can collaborate with anyone else, whether in the office or remotely.”
Working from home and staying in touch
Choosing that set of tools is important. For some businesses, the humble telephone may be able to do much of the legwork. But this doesn’t mean having to rely on the regular phone network. An IP-PBX can help you route and transfer phone calls around a geographically diverse team, and it can be set up and managed in-house.
“A software-based IP-PBX is easily implemented,” said Maria Stoitsi, marketing manager at IP telephony provider 3CX. “It can use your existing hardware infrastructure, and if it’s Windows-based, the IT staff don’t need any special skills to implement and maintain it.”
There’s another advantage too: “In most cases, maintaining a traditional phone system is far more expensive than investing in a new technology,” noted Stoitsi. “The ROI is quickly achieved due to the generated cost reduction.”
If you’re keen to keep things simple inside the office, you don’t even need to run your own PBX server. “With the popularity of cloud computing, deployment options such as hosted PBX are possible,” explained Stoitsi, “allowing smaller businesses to implement a modern cloud phone system without the need to invest in expensive hardware.”