Technology essentials for working from home long-term

Working from home (WFH) has gone mainstream as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus. From being something that the self-employed, freelancers and parents with young children did, we’ve almost all been confronted with this new way of working as a result of lockdown conditions.

For some of us, this may have caused minimal disruption. However, many workers have never experienced having to work outside of their office, let alone within their own living space. For some, working from home has proven challenging, especially if they haven’t had the tools and equipment necessary to work effectively.

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It’s no secret that setting up a well-functioning workspace is the key to successfully working from home. Having a dedicated workspace, for example, will help minimise distractions and provide boundaries for maintaining a work-life balance. Psychology Today reports that the best way to maintain control in an uncertain situation is by mimicking your regular work environment and routine as closely as possible.

While Australia is slowly returning back to normality, our working lives have been altered for good. This could be because of fears that the coronavirus could strike again in a second wave, or we’ve discovered the benefits of working remotely and avoiding the slow daily commute to and from the office.

Companies too are finding there are productivity gains and financial savings to be made when employees work from home. As a result, working from home is likely to be with us for the medium term at least.

To succeed at working from home, a bundle of core technologies are needed. Here are the key considerations for setting up a home office.

1. Accessible data storage

No matter your field of work, everyone has vital business data they need to store and protect. While traditionally this data has been filed away in bulky office cabinets, digitisation means that information such as invoices, contracts, forms and other essential documents can now be stored in a cloud service. This gives employees working from home access to essential data.There are different online data storage offerings in the cloud, so it’s important to consider your specific needs. How much storage are you likely to need? What level of encryption do you require? Who needs access to what data? For example, you may have some data that all employees need to access, as well as some that should only be available to certain staff members.

2. Productive computing

While most employees may have an easily transportable laptop, this is generally not enough to support a long-term working from home arrangement. To mimic the ideal office environment, it’s important to be set up in a space that is conducive to productivity. This means having a large single monitor, or double monitors, plugged into your laptop, as well as a mouse and keyboard, and a headset for taking calls. These can all be connected efficiently using a docking station.

3. Effective telephony

Most workplaces rely on phones to communicate with their customers. An employee who deals with high call volumes needs to be set up correctly to receive calls from home. It’s important to consider how this will be managed.

For example, do you have the right phone system to manage these calls? If not, you could consider a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or a softphone solution. These solutions enable you to make and receive calls like you’re in the office, using the internet as the transmission medium. You may also need to set up diversions to calls made to office phones.

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4. Instant communication

Being away from the office means getting up from your seat to have a quick chat with a co-worker is no longer possible. When working from home, digital productivity tools become vital to help your team communicate with each other quickly and easily, in a way that’s not as invasive as making a phone call or engaging in a complicated email trail. Popular communication tools like Slack, Live Chat and WhatsApp are great ways to keep in touch.

5. Video conferencing

Video meetings have never been more important than they are today. As well as helping team members communicate as a group to discuss workloads and projects, they are also a morale-booster that maintain regular face-to-face communication. There are many video meeting and conferencing tools available, with Zoom and Google Hangouts proving popular and effective solutions. For video conferencing to work, however, each employee needs a computer that has a webcam and is powerful enough to run video conferencing.

6. Printing or printing alternatives

Printing is a feature of office life and a home office printer may be a necessity for some of your team. If you do need a home office printer, there are many options available. However, digital alternatives mean you can reduce the volume of printing required. These include adopting e-signatures, digital forms and online document management systems which could mean that paper forms, high printing costs and lost documents become a thing of the past.

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7. Staff wellness

With the move to working from home, you should also be thinking about how to support your staff and manage wellness. Initiatives that your employees will welcome include providing tools for an ergonomic workspace, such as a quality desk and office chair, as well as height-adjustable monitors. Having a communication plan to frequently check in with your staff is vital for monitoring well being and morale within your team.

It’s also important to strive to maintain social connections; for example, if you would usually host Friday afternoon drinks in the office, you could host a digital version using one of the digital communication apps or platforms mentioned previously.

How Forum Group can help set up working from home

Forum Group has the solutions to help your employees work successfully from home, now and into the future. With the likelihood that remote working will become a permanent feature of our lives, we’d love to share our expertise with you.

We’re currently working with small and medium businesses just like yours to reduce costs on business technology essentials. We’re doing this by leveraging current IT assets to improve cash at bank and creating alignment between technology and business needs. This means your staff have the tools they need, plus your costs are minimised.

Forum Group has a managed service offering to suit every need. Support your staff to work from home effectively and lift their productivity. Cut costs by taking advantage of our current cashback for new members of the Forum Family. You can also renegotiate existing technology agreements to help reduce current costs.

Get in Touch

Contact Forum Group today to discover how we can help you save up to 30% on your business technology.

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