The escalating COVID-19 crisis worldwide has undoubtedly changed the way the world functions.
As Bloomberg puts it, the impact of the coronavirus has forced “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment”.
An increasing number of companies are finding it necessary to continue running their businesses remotely, and many doing so for the first time.
If you are scrambling to figure out how to keep your business running efficiently while traversing the current crisis, you’re not alone. We’ve come up with a guide to keeping your business afloat in these trying times.
For many modern, digitally-advanced companies, the infrastructures needed are already in place to start working remotely. However, smaller companies might find it difficult to start the transition due to a lack of available hardware and systems. Remote working might only be limited to a few business functions, but don’t worry! There is a plethora of solutions out there to help.
Keeping your data secure
The main issue that most employees will face is connectivity. Many organizations rely on internal networks to retrieve company files and data, which might not be safe to access remotely. Besides that, employees might need access to their office desktops to remain productive, instead of using their laptops at home.
There are several ways to combat these issues.
When it comes to securely accessing sensitive company data, it is best to do so using company-owned devices. This allows for higher transparency and control. If that is not possible, you should opt for using VPNs when connecting to the company’s internal network. This ensures your connection stays private and secure, even when connected to public networks.
Other than that, extra security measures should be in place to access emails and cloud systems. Multi-factor authentication systems are your best bet, which requires users to input unique codes generated by apps or physical hardware. Taking this step ensures that the data is only accessible by authorized employees.
In the case of employees needing to remotely access their desktops, you should look into getting a virtual workspace. This technology allows users to flexibly access their existing desktops from other devices.
Virtual workplaces work by hosting the operating system and applications on a remote server, which can then be accessed by authorized users only. This ensures safety and security of company data, as the administrators will be able to monitor and control the workstation as well.
Taking these steps can mitigate the business risks that usually accompany accessing sensitive information remotely. With the right measures in place, there is a very minimal probability of breaches and data leaks.
Creating a digital toolbox
It is helpful to have a range of tools, also known as a digital toolbox, at your disposal in order to work as efficiently as possible from home. Your digital toolbox will differ according to your industry and nature of work. You will find that it is not just useful for remote working, but also once you are back in the office.
According to Deloitte’s guide to creating a digital workplace, the tools needed for each organization is roughly divided into eight categories:
Tools that provide a quick mode of communication within your team
e.g. Instant messaging apps (Telegram, WhatsApp, FB Messenger), email
Tools that enable employees to get their jobs done speedily and efficiently
e.g. Productivity suites (Microsoft Office, OpenOffice)
Tools that allow team members to work together
e.g. Team rooms (Microsoft Teams, Slack, Trello), conferencing tools (Skype, Google Hangouts)
Tools for internal sharing and publishing of information
e.g. Company blogs/portals
Tools that allow employees to access and carry out business functions
e.g. CRM software (HubSpot, Zoho, Salesforce), digital sales apps (TQ Prospector), HR systems (Zenefits, Namely)
Tools that enable employees to voice out opinions and for management to gather input
e.g. Polls/surveys (Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, Typeform), forums
Tools that locate and connect employees across the organisation
e.g. Organisation charts, directories, employee profiles
Tools that allow access to all the above software and company data
e.g. Mobile phones, laptops, home offices
By identifying your business strategies and the tools needed to carry them out, you can seamlessly transition from working in the office to your home.
When it comes to making sales especially, using digital sales apps is key during this stay-at-home period. For example, TQ Prospector is an online prospecting tool that allows you to scrape contact details of potential leads directly from Google. Automating the prospecting process will ensure you save hours of your time, and can get you making sales in minutes.
With your digital toolbox at the ready, you will have a complete arsenal of apps, information, and devices to complete any task within your job scope.
Be a good remote worker
Being connected to your colleagues virtually is a very different experience than working together physically. Without the office banter and clear visibility, it is undoubtedly harder to connect with your team members over the internet.
One of the major ways to make remote working effective is with clear communication. Unlike being in the office, where your managers and colleagues are just a few feet away, working remotely requires you and your team to be responsive communicators.
Employees need to develop a certain set of communicative skills to make remote working work. This includes skills such as coordinating work between departments, finding the right tools for team collaboration, as well as staying connected and engaged with your colleagues, even if it isn’t about work.
One way to do this is by regularly scheduling team check-ins throughout the week. This allows for open, transparent communication, which doesn’t necessarily have to be kept formal either. Keeping a strong sense of connection between you and your team is more important than you’d think.
Besides just picking up new skills, remote employees will also have to pick up a new mindset and workplace culture. For example, people who aren’t open and participative will find a hard time fitting in to the remote working culture. They will need to change their mindsets to be able to work efficiently from home.
Working remotely means that employees will have to be open to collaboration, be able to organise themselves well, and be willing to continuously pick up new skills and tools. Leaders will need to step up and keep themselves visible and influential within the organisation. A good network leader will be able to keep efficiency high and spur on company goals, all within their own homes.
By taking the steps above to optimise your remote working strategy, maintaining your business continuity will be a breeze. We hope that it helps in keeping you, your colleagues, and your families safe from the current global crisis.
This article is part one of our blog series: ‘Keeping Business Continuity in the Wake of COVID-19’. Click on the links below to read parts 2 and 3.