As the Coronavirus continues to dominate headlines and disrupt gatherings, more and more organizations are beginning to consider adopting a temporary remote working procedure. Many other companies, like Amazon and Rising Tide Interactive, have already implemented work from home model. Even your author writes this post from his desk at home.
If the prospect of your staff working from is catching you off guard, you’re not alone. Many organizations are wondering if they have the systems in place to facilitate remote working. Fortunately, some tech companies that are providing their remote working tools for free during this viral outbreak.
Free Business Continuity Tools for Remote Working:
Teams is a unified communication and collaboration suite that integrates workplace chat, video conferencing, file storage, and project management all onto a single platform. Microsoft is offering an extended premium trial of the Teams app for six months.
MiTeams is a collaboration suite that unifies document sharing, voice, video, and group chat within a single application. Mitel is offering a six month free trial for MiTeams. This is a great offer for clients who already have the required MiCollab 9.1 in their environment.
G Suite Business Hangouts
Hangouts is a video conferencing tool that supports large meetings, for up to 250 participants on a call. With the Enterprise edition of Hangouts you can record your meetings and save them to straight to Google Drive. Take advantage of free access until July 1, 2020.
LogMeIn Emergency Remote Work Kit
LogMeIn, the company behind collaboration tools such as GoToMeeting, is offering critical front-line service providers with free Emergency Remote Work Kits. Emergency kits include 3 months of access to GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, and LogMeIn.
It's important that you choose the right tool for the job. Not every tool listed here is suited for your business, depending on your privacy and security needs. Schedule a free consultation with our team to discover which tool works best for your environment.
Strategies for your business continuity plan:
Remote working is a trend that has been rapidly growing thanks to an array of digital tools and apps that support web conferencing, mobile collaboration, and project management. These tools facilitate team collaboration among a dispersed workforce and keep progress flowing even when teams can’t come together in person. If your organization hasn’t committed to a remote working plan, you should consider your needs and prepare for a surge in remote workers as the Coronavirus narrative plays out.
- Identify the functions that are crucial to your business and develop backup solutions to maintain your essential operations.
- Team members should be cross-trained to perform critical business functions to support your office in the event of rising absenteeism.
- Encourage employees to work remotely whenever possible. Collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and MiCollab are great for bringing dispersed teams together online and continuing productive work.
- Communicate expectations clearly when establishing remote teams and create ground rules for how interactions take place. It helps to set specified “online” hours where your entire team is online together.
- Recreate social interactions on your remote work platform. Remote work can be isolating. To combat this, our team uses Microsoft Teams with a dedicated informal “Company Chatter” channel for fun conversations as well as formal project-specific channels for project management and collaboration conversations.
- Secure remote access to your corporate assets. A virtual private network (VPN) is essential for securing remote access to IT resources. VPNs create an encrypted tunnel that makes it safe for workers to access online resources within your organization.
- Review your IT infrastructure to be sure you can support employees securely working remotely.
Business advantages of remote work: adopting a long-term remote working strategy.
- Increase employee productivity. A Stanford University study found that remote workers are over 10% more productive than their counterparts in an office.
- Decrease employee sick time. The Stanford study also found that employees who are allowed to work a flexible schedule from home take fewer breaks and sick leave.
- Improve work-life balance. Workers allowed even a single day of remote work a week reported increased levels of happiness and stress reduction.
- Higher employee retention. The positive effect remote working has on employees results in higher job satisfaction and less job switching.
- Lower company overhead. Employers that offer remote working options see a significant reduction in office space costs. Some organizations see savings up to $10,000 per remote worker.
Much remains unknown about COVID-19, including how far and how fast it could spread in the United States. It may temporarily make our teams more isolated than they’ve ever been. There are plenty of digital tools we can embrace to combat this. With confirmed cases of the virus in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Colorado, and now nationwide, it’s in our best interests to begin developing plans that allow for greater business flexibility and, hopefully, a smooth sail through this potential crisis.