Along with much of the rest of the world, our team has moved to ‘working from home’ arrangements to help with the fight against COVID-19. Caznet has always enjoyed flexible working arrangements and members of the team regularly work remotely. Our tried and tested processes and technology meant for a relatively seamless transition for us. However, the experience of rapidly changing their entire operating model has not been so simple for many of our clients and partners.
The past couple of weeks have taught us many lessons which we think are worth sharing:
- 1. Cloud first approach to IT works best
- Organisations who have already made the move to cloud-based services such as Office 365, Xero, VoIP, etc have found this transition much easier than those who haven’t. Most of these services can be accessed from anywhere with just a PC and an internet connection. There’s essentially no difference for these users whether they are working in the office or at home. For those who still run their own server infrastructure, the ones who’ve chosen to host that infrastructure in our Private Cloud or co-locate their servers in our Data Centre were much better positioned to support their remote work force using VPNs. Organisations with most of their applications, servers and business phone systems on-premises were hit the hardest by the sudden need to move to a whole new working paradigm.
- 2. Business process is just as important as the technology
- Technology is key to enabling work from home. However, it’s all wasted if your business processes don’t support it. For example, if your warehouse needs a printed picking slip from the sales team, can this be changed? Does your workflow require signatures from clients and how will you do that? How will you accept deliveries and are you able to drop ship orders directly from suppliers to customers? If it’s necessary to clock your employee’s hours, how will you do that?
- Here at Caznet we’ve adopted a ‘no non-essential on-site visits’ policy. We’ve had to scale up our remote support tools and begun drop shipping all equipment orders directly to our client’s offices (and even their team members homes!). Our sales process is primarily by phone and we use DocuSign so clients can sign off on service orders and changes. Surprisingly we realised we’re very dependent on whiteboards… this simply didn’t work anymore so we’ve moved to Microsoft Planner which is included as part of Office 365.
- 3. What haven’t you thought about?
- As you roll out your working from home plan, you’ll discover problems you hadn’t thought about. An unexpected and yet common issue we came across with our clients was power supplies for their VoIP phones – clients took the handsets home which were normally powered by PoE and were unable to use them. Some other barriers you need to consider:
- Do all staff have a laptop or PC?
- Does everyone have internet at home and is it fast and reliable enough? Does their ISP block VoIP? If they’re using a 4G connection, is the data quota enough?
- How difficult will it be for your staff to connect devices like PCs and phones to their home modem/router? If they can only use Wi-Fi, is this supported by your equipment?
- If you use on-premises infrastructure, do you have business grade internet which can keep up with your remote workers?
- 4. Have the right setup at home
Working from the couch or kitchen counter might work for a day or two but it probably won’t cut it over the weeks and months ahead. Here are some ideas to consider for your home office:
- One or more full sized monitors and an external keyboard/mouse attached to a laptop will make it easier to work efficiently and keep you healthy by supporting good posture and reducing eye strain.
- If possible, setup your workstation on a proper desk with a good quality chair in a quiet, dedicated part of the home. Not only will this help you focus and keep you comfortable, it’ll be easier to shut off from work when your day is over.
- An external, well positioned webcam and microphone separate to the ones built into your laptop can significantly improve your video conferencing by giving you the best angle and reducing background noise.
- Your customers, suppliers and colleagues will be checking out your home during your video calls. Run a test with your webcam and make any adjustments to your background that you feel are necessary before that first meeting!
- 5. Trial it first
The best way to know if you’re ready is to trial it before you need to send your whole team home. If you’ve done a trial or have regular remote workers, you will have likely ironed out most of the obvious challenges ahead of time. Some of our better prepared clients and schools trialled their plans by having a portion of the team in the office and a portion at home for several days and they worked through the problems one by one while minimising disruption.
- 6. Be prepared to pivot and adapt
It probably won’t be 100% smooth sailing from day one. However, if you are prepared to adapt your processes and work through challenges progressively with a cool head you can succeed!
- 7. Keeping in touch is crucial
Working from home doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t keep in close contact. In fact, it’s crucial that you do. Here at Caznet we’re keeping the team spirit up and making sure everyone is up to date by having a daily video conference staff meeting. Friday beers at the pub have adapted too – they’re now Friday beers on Microsoft Teams. Tradition shouldn’t be thrown away with ‘work from home’, it’s more important than ever!
If you’re still adjusting your plans and technology, here are a few tools and services you might like to read up on:
Caznet has over 15 years of experience in providing services to keep employees connected to their business systems, each other and their customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We offer free consultations to organisations looking at the structure of their IT and communication systems.