While no company wants to develop policies in reaction to fear, getting the systems in place before you need them will help answer questions from your concerned employees. More and more workers will want to tele-commute when an outbreak like Coronavirus is going around (or even during regular flu season!), and you can make the transition easily with a UCaaS or VoIP platform already in place.
Preparing Your Work from Home Process
In the case of controlling a potential outbreak, employers need to determine which employees actually need to be onsite to complete their tasks – this number may be surprisingly low. In fact, you may only need employees who maintain equipment or machinery. With video conference capabilities and all work files stored in cloud storage, many of your employees can transition to working from home with only a few tools they already own.
Tools Each Employee Needs to Work from Home
If your team already uses a VoIP or unified communications platform, many of their services will be accessed through a browser in their day-to-day work.
The only problem would be when employees save work directly to their device. If your business only provides employees with desktop computers at their workstations, make sure they save all files through cloud storage so these can be accessed from anywhere.
Setting up your employees for tele-commuting only requires a:
- Laptop with a video camera
- Smart phone
- High-speed internet connection
Instead of desk top computers, consider providing a laptop to employees from the beginning with a larger screen to use when onsite. All of their files will be stored on one device, and they can take home the laptop whenever necessary. Viirtue does offer a remote desktop service to access a workstation from a different device, but laptops ultimately work seamlessly for employees.
Many companies offer a bring-your-own-device program to save on costs, and some still give out a second cell phone for work calls and email content (especially those with sensitive data or intellectual property). Viirtue provides a simple app to send and receive calls from the same desk phone number through a cell phone, as well as any chat, texting, conferencing, and reporting services available at their desks. This simple tool makes any cell phone a work phone.
High-speed internet at home can be more difficult to manage, because the service level is based on your employee’s personal budget or preference. However, this problem might be solved by a wireless hotspot on a cell phone.
Ensuring Efficiency and Productivity
Business owners seem to limit the remote work option because they believe employees will not be as focused and productive when working away from the office. While this fear has been disproven, ensuring efficiency with workers scattered across the state may seem daunting.
Setting Clear Efficiency Expectations
Even when an employee works from home, you can still set clear expectations for their working hours, especially if they typically work on site:
- Require they be available the same hours they would be in the office
- Schedule regular video calls (daily, weekly, etc.)
- Use chat services like Microsoft Teams to ask quick questions
- Collaborate on documents and presentations through OneDrive and Microsoft Teams
While no employee wants to be micromanaged, this process may be new to everyone and expectations will make you all more comfortable. Over time, you’ll find that a unified communications platform makes collaboration quicker and easier, and your employees will be finishing more work with fewer distractions.
What If They’re Too Sick to Work
Then they’re too sick and will need to take an actual sick day. But in outbreaks where employees may be contagious before they even show symptoms, working from home will keep the rest of the office safe.
Of course, some employees always insist on coming to the office when they have a cold – despite the stares of disgust from their coworkers. If they have the tools to be completely productive from home, they may feel less compelled to come to the office when they’re not at their best… or their cubicle neighbor may head home to work when they hear sneezing nearby.
Practice All Year Round
Developing a work-from-home policy within a company is a necessary step forward for the modern workplace. Reports show that this flexibility leads to happier and more loyal employees who give their best to the company. So why not consider updating your policies and culture to allow for regular remote work? Unified communications has already given you the tools – and your team will stay happy and healthy well after the fear of pandemic has passed.
Proactively protect your workforce from illness (and distraction!) by calling Viirtue and learning more about how unified communication and VoIP platforms will keep your employees happier, healthier, and more productive throughout the year.