TwentyFour IT

Effective Remote Working in the Modern Age

If you were not fortunate enough to attend our recent webinar, then fear not as we are wrapping up our advice into this post for your benefit. Leading the session was Chief Technology Officer at TwentyFour IT Services, Tony Houlihan. Tony is passionate about working with SMEs and corporate businesses to enhance their use of technology. By channelling this passion, we can enable our clients to gain efficiencies by using the right tools. And this is what the webinar was about – discussing the practical and social challenges presented with working remotely. Attendees of the webinar, and now you too – can discover how we will work with you and your team to overcome any current IT challenges you are facing, placing your team in the best place to succeed. We must stress that enabling you to do these things is done remotely, and you can find further updates on that here.

We would like to extend our thanks to Doncaster Chamber for enabling us to host the session and the support available throughout the process.

Key Social Challenges with Remote Working

Working at home for most folk is fine on occasion. A couple of weeks of it, and you are likely to have forgotten what your colleagues look like! Ok, maybe a little exaggerated, especially seeing as though we will be encouraging you to use video chat shortly. But there lies some truth here. Let’s explore the main social problems with working remotely.

Isolation

Being forgotten or feeling ignored is a genuine human fear. It is arguably felt more for those people who regularly work remotely, which, according to The Flexible Revolution report by CBRE, is nearly 20% of the global workforce.

When you make changes to your working environment, something as simple as the location of where you set up to work can take some time getting used to. Working at home can make us feel detached from our team too. When you are at the office, it is much easier to chat with your colleagues as you pass them by in the corridor or eat lunch.

Ultimately when you’re in the office environment, you feel a part of the bigger company picture. Although statistics suggest workers are more productive at home, we believe that extended periods away from the office will more likely harm employee performance.

Decreased Visibility

Over the past couple of weeks, you have probably woken up and asked “what day is it today?”, you are not alone. Billions of people across the world have had their routines shook up, and that can have an adverse impact on your perspective. We are being encouraged to keep in touch with our family and friends by all virtual means necessary. It is equally essential for business leaders to touch base with their workforce. Doing this will ensure staff are accounted for and don’t feel left out of or ill-informed about what’s going on.

Work/Life Balance

It can be tough to switch off if you live and work in the same place. Thanks to Buffer, we can see that this challenge is one of the most common and it can be reassuring to know we are not the only ones feeling the pressure when it comes to log out at 5 pm:

Buffer state of remote report

Source: Buffer

Lack of Relationships Among Co-workers

Employees who work remotely are only likely to interact regularly with their colleagues via email or over the occasional phone call, not a means of forming meaningful relationships with co-workers (a hindrance at times). For many people, work also forms part of their social life, and so taking this element of going to the office away can cause feelings of disconnect with their peers. Equally as important is management in ensuring your workforce can access the tools to collaborate if we are in a position were attending the office is off-limits. Furthermore, when discussing the priorities of a group of full-time workers, Airtasker claimed that 70% of the group they surveyed expressed maintaining relationships with their co-workers was just as important as their jobs.

Increased Distractions

This point is especially true today. As social distancing and self-isolation are vital preventative measures of spreading Covid-19; working in a remote environment can introduce huge distractions. You may have experienced some yourself such as children needing us, pets wanting our affection or even just the latest box set needing watching.

Overcoming Social Challenges Through Technology

Now we know what the problems are, how do we eradicate them? Remember, although a lot of us are socially distancing and working at home right now, it won’t be like this forever. Don’t fail to prepare for what the future might bring and ensure your business has the resilience to continue operating, no matter what the circumstances.

Microsoft Teams

Use Microsoft Teams or Slack. Setup non-work-related chats that will encourage users to have a little fun as well as work together on specific topics. Our team have a particular channel set up at the moment to keep in touch. The channel includes the entire team, furloughed or not. There are all sorts in here, and the channel really does promote camaraderie amongst the team. Some activities that you could encourage on a Teams social channel:

  • Share progress on hobbies (gardening, exercising, arts and crafts, baking etc.)
  • Discuss what you got up to at the weekend or of an evening
  • Quizzes
  • Jokes
  • TV and Film recommendations

Huddle

It is crucial to have regular online calls or team chats, and this is an excellent opportunity to get your team together, and talking! The meeting should be a safe environment for the team to discuss both what’s going well and what’s not, you can then discuss and share ideas on making improvements and maintaining the positives. As a result, you’re creating a culture of shared values and open communication which your team will appreciate.

A well-structured huddle also helps all team members understand their role and priorities and maintains focus. Meetings or huddles don’t have to be time-suckers so long as they are managed not to be.

Encourage Face-to-face Chats

Encourage your team to use the video feature when conducting meetings with one another, and this will enhance social presence and inclusion. Video chat happens in real-time, unlike emails or other forms of written communication. These methods allow for delays and lack fluidity.

Not only that, ‘one study found that a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email’, so encouraging use of this feature could make your team equally productive as they develop into social butterflies.

Overcoming the Technical Challenges

Giving your staff the trust and flexibility to work remotely is just the first step. The transition to managing remote employees is made much easier with the right technology. Don’t panic that it’s not as easy as it sounds because it is and that is what we are here for. Luckily, the tools below can be set up remotely and deployed quickly, so as not to interfere with day-to-day business operations.

Office365 Collaboration Tools

Microsoft offers a range of tools to use in the office geared towards drawing in users and enhancing collaboration. You have most probably heard of most of them, so to name a few that are good for business:

  • Outlook
  • Sharepoint
  • Teams

Microsoft Teams has taken off recently, from a reported 20 million daily users in November 2019 to over 44 million in March 2020. Microsoft Teams allows you to invite everyone you work with to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place, no matter where you are – it is possible to do this on the platform with both colleagues and customers. The platform gives your team the tools to be more engaged and productive by integrating people, content and giving your team suitable means to do so. It is also straightforward to set up, get familiar with and then use.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas)

Infrastructure as a service also referred to as IaaS, is a form of instant, cloud computing infrastructure that is provisioned and managed over the internet. IaaS allows for scaling up and down when required on a PAYG basis. As we are discussing a service, this indicates that as you do not physically own the infrastructure, up-front capital expenditures are unnecessary. You are essentially renting the basic building blocks needed to run applications and workloads in the cloud, accessible from anywhere.

Servers, Connectivity, Desktops, Applications, Data and Security, managed by us, for you, delivered in a secure cloud environment.

IaaS

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas)

A hosted desktop gateway offers you the same experience as a regular desktop. However, your information and data are stored at a different location or in the “Cloud.”

With your data being stored elsewhere, it allows you much more flexibility. This is because you don’t need an in-house server, which can bring a huge upfront expense. Also, with a virtual server, your business can save on space which a physical in-house server can take up.

Your Applications and desktops are readily available for multiple users to work simultaneously on. Providing there is a reliable internet connection you can connect to the server from any location. This means you can work from anywhere, giving your business the flexibility to achieve its goals.

We’re here to assist you starting today, so do not hesitate in letting us know what you need – email sales@twenty-four.it or call 01302 732190.

TwentyFour IT