Did you know that 47% of UK organisations intend to give their employees the choice of working remotely, on a full-time basis, once lockdown ends and the pandemic is finally over?

It’s a huge statistic that a Garter Survey, conducted last year, revealed. In addition to this surprising figure, it also found that 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely, some of the time, or at least one day a week.

As the statistics clearly show, businesses have found the benefits of remote working such as greater flexibility, higher productivity and the reduced need for office space and unnecessary spend. With that in mind, it is looking highly likely that remote working is here to stay.

But what are the challenges of remote working? It can lead to employees working longer hours, an overlap between work and personal life and possible isolation.

Remote working has its pros and cons; here, we assess how it has impacted businesses over the last twelve months and what can be done to ensure effective, safe and efficient remote working practices as we come out of lockdown….

Communication

Communication is key to any successful business. This includes internal communications and cohesive, efficient communication externally to clients and other stakeholders.

Whether it’s written communications or verbal communications, from a telephone call to Zoom and Teams Meetings, business leaders should look to implement regular and consistent meetings within their organisation. This

allows for regular communication to flow.  The conversation should be predominantly work-related, but don’t forget to allow some social time to chat and check in on your employee’s mental health, too (something you should not only care about but show due diligence).

Many organisations have already successfully adapted to this approach, meaning a positive impact to come from remote working is that it has forced us to improve our communication skills and invest in a mixture of channels to help us communicate with our team.

Do you have a channel for quick communications (such as a group chat) and a channel for video conferencing?

Having a mixture of channels is very beneficial for you and your team.

Technology

The internet has made it possible for staff to be continually connected to the office. Tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom have made communication between colleagues and teams much easier and, at times, can lead to more efficient and effective meetings.

For an agile approach to work, cloud computing is a significant factor in remote working. Supplying your workforce with hardware, such as laptops and monitors, maybe even mobile phones, and a suite of online services to work on is all that most businesses need to offer. Both Google and Microsoft have built huge businesses on flexible, cloud-based productivity platforms – most of which are simple to use.

Depending on the size of your business, you may not need an internal IT team and instead outsource that service. SCS can manage your cloud servers and staff remotely, keeping your workforce running no matter where they are in the UK.

Security

While remote working is very effective for a majority of businesses, it does come with security challenges. Many employees are using their personal devices for two-factor authentication, and they may well have mobile app versions of Teams and Zoom. These blurred lines between personal and professional life increase the risk that sensitive information will fall into an insecure environment.

Another threat that remotes workers face is the possibility of attackers sending phishing emails. These are scams designed to fool people into handing over your details or downloading a malicious attachment containing a keylogger.

Because of these threats, businesses should invest in Cyber Security awareness and training courses. If not already done, we also advise companies to develop appropriate working from home policies and procedures to ensure that the necessary considerations for data security and privacy risks are assessed and in place.

Businesses should also be able to explain the technical solutions they’ve implemented to protect sensitive data. For example, we recommend applying multi-factor authentication to any third-party service that you use.

Do you need some help assessing the best remote platform for your needs? Do you need some advice about cybersecurity and back-ups?  Please get in touch to find out more about how we can ensure your remote workforce operates efficiently and securely.