Now that we are making our way down the homestretch of this pandemic (knock on wood), the questions we are all asking ourselves is simply, “what’s next?
We certainly don’t have all the answers, and if 2020 taught us anything, it’s not to try and predict anything! But seriously, when it comes to small businesses, what does our future work style look like?
While we didn’t coin the phrase, the hybrid work model seems to be picking up steam, and for good reason. When reality set in last summer and we knew we’d be dealing with this for far longer than we could’ve imagined, we learned that the successful businesses will figure out a way to make it happen. The ability to pivot was the name of the game in 2020, no doubt.
What is the “hybrid work model?”
A hybrid work model allows some employees to work remotely while others work on-premises. For some, it means that it doesn’t matter where you work from as long as you get your work done.
It could also mean that certain departments are working remotely while others remain on-premise. For example, our web development team works from home while our help desk remains in in the office.
Every business is different, but for most hybrid employees, a laptop should suffice. Many of us have gotten spoiled with dual monitors, so providing an extra monitor (around $300) is a nice perk.
A reliable headset with a microphone is recommended. Some employees might be able to get away with leveraging their mobile devices, but a reliable headset is a huge boost to the quality-of-life when working remotely. Your voice will be clearer, the audio will be better, and it enables you to easily work on your computer with both hands while talking with a client or team member.
Most laptops will come with a built-in webcam, but the quality is typically pretty limited. It’s the same logic as having a sound bar speaker rather than using your televisions audio.
If you haven’t already made the leap to a cloud-based office platform like Office 365 now is the time. Not only will you have full access to all the tools necessary to conduct a majority of your work function like Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Excel, you’ll get access to the file storage and sharing platform OneDrive and the communication enhancing applications of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. There are few platforms that can truly provide as many overall benefits when working remotely as Office 365.
What software will our employees need?
Hardware is only part of the equation. In an event like we might soon be experiencing, where an already straining tech supply chain now faces more manufacturing delays abroad and transportation delays in the states, getting the most out of what you already have might be the best way to proceed. Luckily, we have the knowledge and experience with various telecommunication services, cloud-based products, and remote software support to get you there. Below are some options we recommend you consider.
Software That Can Help Better Enable Your Remote Employees
VOIP Desktop And Mobile Phone Applications Like Those Provided Through 3CX, Grand Stream Or A Hosted VOIP Service Like Momentum Telecom.
Depending on the size of your organization, it’s probably too late to pursue a full VOIP setup before the necessity of remote working begins, but if you have the services listed above you have access to desktop and mobile applications that will better enable a remote working structure. With these applications properly installed, you can get your business line setup to go directly to your mobile device. Enabling uninterrupted communications with your customers and clients without changing your contact information or giving them your personal number. If you don’t have VOIP set up for your business, it would still be worth your time to explore those options. The service provider is mainly determined by your team’s needs. If you’re a smaller shop, like a one-person CPA office or even a small 5-person web team, a hosted VOIP service like Momentum Telecom will get you connected and save you some money. When your team exceeds that number, Grandstream takes the cake in terms of both performance and cost.
While It’s Mentioned Above, We Also Want To Directly Mention Team Communication And Coordination Platforms Like A Microsoft Teams And Microsoft Planner.
Digital collaboration will be key while working remotely. Having an organized workflow with direct commenting capabilities like you can have on Microsoft Planner and the direct messaging and video conferencing functions (available as a premium upgrade) that are available on Microsoft Teams will help get you there. Microsoft Teams will also give you one window into the availability and activity of your workforce. While signed into Microsoft Teams you are given a busy, away, online, or offline status. The ladder could be a soft sign that someone might not be around and available like they should be. While there are better platforms that could accommodate engagement and working statuses this does enable a simple way when that isn’t highly important.
For larger businesses or even small/local ones that have placed a priority on security, now is the time to ensure your employees have set up their home connections to your business’s VPN. By preemptively setting up this connection you avoid wasted time and ensure you have access to the resources provided inside your network.
Remote Desktop Access
For team members that don’t have the capability to upload massive projects to the cloud or take all the files they need home, remote desktop access will provide a nice solution. When this is established, your home computer will act as a window to your in-office computer, providing access to all of its tools and files stored locally.
Get Your Plan in Place as Soon as Possible
It’s hard to tell when more stringent restrictions will be put in place to necessitate remote working. But when it does happen, if you haven’t started thinking about your plan you’re just asking for issues. People are already actively preparing for such an event by placing hardware orders, contacting our continuity advisors, and requesting assistance with software installations and setups. The sooner you determine your needs and request the right services, platforms, and equipment the better off you will be. You’ll also have a better chance of getting everything in a timelier manner, avoiding the inevitable queue that will arise as the wave of last-second organizations trying to set everything up.
Lexington Geek provides comprehensive managed IT services for a diverse range of businesses and non-profit organizations. We are passionate about IT and love what we do!
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Louisville Geek is a privately-owned Information Technology company that provides comprehensive managed IT services for small to medium sized businesses and organizations throughout central Kentucky and the greater US.
Lexington Geek is a sister company of Louisville Geek, headquartered in Louisville, KY. LexGeek provides IT support for small to medium-sized businesses throughout Central Kentucky.