Thursday 20th Aug 2020
While a great many individuals are returning to their place of work following the strict COVID-19 lockdown, a substantial proportion of the workforce is still working from home, and indeed many thought leaders expect that home working is a trend that will continue in the future. There are many advantages to this, but only where remote working actually works. And one of the stumbling blocks is connectivity.
There are several issues to consider.
Firstly, there is of course internet connectivity at home. This is one of the more difficult obstacles to overcome, but research suggests that employees can lose easily half an hour to an hour of productivity each day because of this. If your employees struggle with their home internet, whether because it’s slow or the connection drops out occasionally, then explore solutions. There are a few 5G products on the market that may give them superior coverage and data connectivity, which do not require lengthy installation or complicated subscriptions. Ask your employees how they are doing, and if there’s anything you can give them that will keep them connected. It can be very frustrating for individuals if they feel like they cannot get work done through no fault of their own.
The next issue is allowing them to access your business systems remotely. Data and software should be readily accessible, which means that cloud-based storage systems and remotely accessible servers are nearly essential. Businesses that have already made a near full transition away from physical documents will naturally find this much easier than others. Check in with everyone to find out whether they have everything they need to connect normally with systems, software, data, or anything else. And it is also important to consider security if this is something new to your business. It may be worth bringing in an external consultant if you do not have dedicated IT staff that are clued up on security best practices.
And the final part of connectivity is keeping people connected to other people. A policy needs to be set out here, but you should ensure that individuals have as many methods as possible for keeping in touch with colleagues. Each channel has its own benefits. Email is just one, but it can be impersonal and does not mimic conversation well; something that’s crucial to effective working. Consider encouraging employees to use instant messaging services such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, video chat, and of course the phone. Give them all the tools that they need to be productive.
To conclude, connectivity is not something that happens by accident. It can be easy to take modern systems and internet access for granted, but business leaders still need to give them some thought.