A Successful WFH Strategy Requires Superior Technology. Here’s What You Need to Know.
Health insurance. Retirement. Paid time off. These have been traditionally required benefits that every business needs to offer. But now, and especially thanks to COVID, work from home (WFH) has joined the list of essential benefits. Every business owner I know is considering some WFH arrangement to stay competitive; they understand that remote jobs benefit the employer as much as the employee.
Although their exact arrangements vary from hybrid WFH to 100% WFH, there’s one consistent thing these business owners agree on: Technology is critical to remote employee performance.
But with so many remote work technologies to choose from, it’s tough to know what’s necessary vs. a nice-to-have. In this post, we’re covering the essentials. Ensure that you (or your remote employees) have access to these five pieces of equipment, or technologies, in their work space to improve WFH performance company-wide.
5 Remote Work Technologies Every WFH Employee Needs
1. A reliable laptop.
Not a tablet. Not a smartphone. Not an old PC with the kids’ games on it. I mean a good, reliable laptop with the following specs at least:
- Less than three years old
- 13 inch screen (or larger)
- Built-in webcam, speakers, microphone
Many computer manufacturers sell laptops that fit those specs, and most manufacturers and technology retailers even have factory-refurbished options for a lower price. Make sure employees use a later model (at least from the last three years) and provide an allowance to help them do this if necessary. The faster and more glitch-free the device, the higher your employee productivity will be.
2. A cloud hosting or managed cloud services provider.
For your work-from-home model to be successful, your company has to buy into the cloud. That means taking all of your applications, databases, files and documents and having them stored with a reliable, third-party cloud hosting provider.
In the cloud, your people can access whatever file they need from wherever they are and share updates live from any device without compromising data security. Additionally, cloud hosting providers (like Right Networks) take care of backups and storage for you, with the added benefit of 24/7 US-based support. Managed service providers have the staffing and resources to protect your cloud environment (and the client data within), so you can concentrate on … whatever it is you do.
Right Networks offers several cloud hosting options that address the different needs of firms and businesses. Firms that need turnkey managed IT, or a supplement to their current IT support, should learn more about Right Networks Cloud Premier. Professionals using QuickBooks should look at the QuickBooks Hosting packages. And lastly, users concentrated on tax work: Check out these Drake Tax Hosting or Lacerte and ProSeries Tax Hosting pages.
3. A complete, accurate, CRM system.
A customer relationship management (CRM) system is essential for tracking activities, notes, orders, history, forecasts, marketing campaigns, services issues, tasks and other critical details about your customers, prospects and other key members of your community.
Cloud-based systems like Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho (or Rootworks ClientView™ for firms) provide a shared database for employees to track the people they’re doing business with, regardless of anyone’s location. Use your chosen CRM system’s workflows to keep employees updated and automate info-sharing to make everyone feel closer to your company and its progress.
But remember, this is a database, and it will only be as good as the completeness and accuracy of the data in it.
4. Strong communication and collaboration applications.
Employees need to email, chat, call people or host video calls to stay connected, obviously. And it’s a business’s responsibility to enable their remote teams’ communication and collaboration with productivity tools and applications so powerful—it’ll make it seem as if everyone is still in the office.
Remote employees need to communicate progress with customers and ensure supervisors and team members stay updated. They should be able to communicate with clients in the clients’ preferred method—and as long as that method is secure—you should enable them to do so. That’s why all remote workforces need a good communication and collaboration application, such as Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Slack, etc.
Many software suites (like Microsoft 365 or Google G Suite) include project management tools—another vital piece of the remote workforce puzzle. If you don’t have (or aren’t a fan of) the project management tool included with your software, check out Asana, Basecamp, or Monday.com.
These applications, when used properly, can literally make it seem that your work-from-home team members are not working from home at all.
5. Security that addresses new and emerging remote work threats.
With so many people working from home, and nearly every business dealing with disruption, hackers have been presented with a great opportunity.
Just think about it: Most home office networks weren’t created with the security needed for working from home, and many remote workers have older, out-of-date devices. Unsecured WiFis mixed with never-been-updated technology are both critical issues that IT teams must address immediately.
That means ensuring that all remote workers are running security software like Malwarebytes, Kaspersky or AVG, and it means they are updating their operating systems on their devices. It also means building a tighter security protocol, documenting procedures and verifying user identity with two-factor authentication (or even biometrics like fingerprints and eye scans) before allowing system access.
Security isn’t just one technology—it’s many. But having the right security technologies in place will ensure that your work-from-home employees aren’t opening the door to a potential data breach or some other disaster. We have enough disasters as it is, right?