Thank you for joining the 2020 work-from-home experiment (whether you wanted to or not)

work from home experiment made easier with help from M&S Consulting

You already know the situation we’re in: we have all been plunged into the world’s largest work-from-home (WFH) experiment with very little time to adapt. This grand experiment has changed the rules for almost every working situation. Workers and companies that already had the ability for effective remote work are finding new challenges, now that seemingly everyone has joined the party.

We have been refining the way our company works remotely since we began in 2002. Knowing how to get started, what’s important, and having the ability to reduce friction for your workforce will help you navigate through this time and prepare you for what may be to come. Here are the core components that your new solutions need to address.

Core Components

At a basic level, remote systems should address these core components:

  • Communication. This is the most essential and difficult component of remote work. Most companies have basic communication systems in place, such as phone and email; however, those transitioning to WFH struggle to replace the more frequent, informal communication that takes place when employees are in the same office. These close interactions not only help share important information but also keep employees feeling engaged and connected. Identifying and rolling out your solution is crucial.
  • File sharing and access. While many files can be shared through email, this does not support efficiency, collaboration, or version control, making soliciting input from a variety of contributors very challenging.
  • System access. Ensuring company systems are remotely accessible and secure can be challenging. In fact, many jobs are impossible without some form of system access.
  • Security. Maintaining confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your systems and data should be a primary concern in all of your decisions. Is data security your primary consideration, or more of an afterthought?

Getting from here to there

Like many other challenges, the solution begins with identifying requirements for your various systems. A good starting point is to examine how things operated prior to the shift to remote work. How did employees normally communicate, both formally and informally? Were there formalized group discussions, or did most communications take place ad hoc? Does the nature of the work require long periods of work in solitude, or is regular interaction required? The answers to these types of questions help determine the right solution for your organization. In some cases, your current solutions will be sufficient; in others, new options and opportunities may be more effective.

More than communication, how does collaboration between employees look in this new reality? Interactions and collaboration that took place in-person previously now need to be supported in new ways. How important will features like version control be addressed; finding the most current version of a document or identifying a series of changes can be very important. Working from files saved to local machines can be a liability to both data security and loss, and the transition to cloud storage should be a strong consideration.

Your decision on remote system access will be driven by convenience, cost, and security, as well as your long-term plans for cloud usage. While some systems may already be easily accessible over the internet, some companies will benefit from the added security of setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for secure remote system access. However, now may also be a good time to consider moving applications to the cloud, to benefit from the cost savings, redundancy, and accessibility.

We can help

As companies have struggled to set up some of these WFH basics, we have been working remotely for years, so we have firsthand knowledge of the challenges and benefits, which has positioned us to be able to help others. While we hope the current situation resolves itself soon, the ability to work remotely will be a need for quite some time. Companies may also realize this is a pain point and look to implement solutions regardless of the pandemic.

At M&S, we have experience in helping organizations make this transition to remote work on clients ranging from large government organizations and hospital systems to small businesses with two employees. We have tested, tried-and-true technologies and processes to make this change smooth and productive. We’d enjoy discussing ways to keep your business running and your employees and clients happy, so contact us today.

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