Does COVID-19 have you planning to work remotely? Here’s advice on how to do it right.

As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to ripple across the business community, many of us will be forced to change work habits in the near future.  We shared earlier how COVID-19 is impacting buying technology equipment.  Now we want to share some views on how companies can continue to work effectively through this situation.

Some companies are very experienced with employees working remotely, but many will be relying on this heavily for the first time.  Here are some tips from the Greystone team for keeping collaboration going while employees are physically separate.  You may even find ways to increase employee productivity permanently!

Find a productive environment

“A big thing for me is taking the time to find the environment you are most comfortable and most productive in. It can be easy to get distracted at home so building an environment for yourself where you can get in the zone and be productive is big. Personally, I like to play that ambient lo-fi, chillstep style of music, if anyone is home I’ll shut myself off in my room. Be proactive about eliminating distractions and finding your focus.” – Nick Jensen, Web Developer

Use a well-positioned web camera for better conversations

“The difference between a face to face meeting and a blind phone conversation can be drastic but face-to-face doesn’t have to mean “in person”.  Use the webcam on your laptop, phone, or tablet in your remote meetings and the discussions feel nearly similar to being in the same room.  Get an external web cam if you have a multiple-monitor setup.  Be intentional about where your camera is pointed.  Don’t be the person with the camera pointed at the side of their head.”  – Peter Melby, CEO

Setup secure remote access… and test it

“There are different ways for employees to be able to remotely access information at work.  Greystone provides secure access for clients needing to log into their work desktop computers from their own personal devices. Secure VPN connections can also provide access to needed information.  Whatever your remote access method is, make sure to test it ahead of needing it.” – Chase Carlton, Technical Consultant

Use cloud-based systems for storing files and managing information

“Most companies who have adopted cloud platforms such as Office 365 aren’t fully using the features available to them.  Use this time to learn new ways to share information and store files in the cloud.  Microsoft Teams is a fantastic communication tool that will help keep your inbox clear of back-and-forth discussions that aren’t meant for e-mail.” – Nathan Luper, Technical Trainer

“Tracking all your data can be a challenge even when you have the ability to be in the same room.  That is why our team uses exclusively web-based tools that we can access from anywhere. There are plenty of these types of tools available today which is why companies will need to evaluate which one works best for their needs.  Our development team of six people works remotely across four locations on projects that  require constant collaboration” – Isaac Dew, Web Developer

Get on the same page about expectations in the face of an emergency

“IT is a critical component of any emergency response plan, especially if you have sensitive data to protect. Business leaders and IT service providers need to have honest conversations to ensure everyone is on the same page.  Communicate openly with your team around company expectations of their work habits in cases you’re switching to remote work.  Making sure sensitive data is safe usually gets the focus for these plans but another aspect of these plans can be whether or not you want to provide remote access for your employees during emergencies.” – Andrew Eckerling, Sales Representative

Avoid “shadow IT”

“Shadow IT is a term used when employees use their own IT systems for work purposes.  Be sure not to store company files in your personal Dropbox or on other systems that are yours personally.  This is a security risk for the company, a liability for employees, and can be a compliance violation.  Employees who do not feel they have the appropriate systems to accomplish their jobs should communicate directly and quickly with business leaders.” – Bobby Sowder, Director of Client Success

Don’t overreact, but wash your hands!

“Seriously. Wash your hands.” – Everyone

These are just a few examples of the many ways that technology makes it possible for employees to work remotely and for companies to be better prepared for emergencies. The right plan for your company will depend on the industry you are in, the type of company that you operate, and the number of employees you have.  As always, contact Greystone for any IT needs.