The Christmas season is upon us, and with it comes office parties, frantic present buying and, for some companies, their busiest time of the year. But for others, it might mean seasonal office closures or a skeleton staff required to come into an otherwise deserted office.
So how can you keep employees happy if this is the case for your small or medium-sized business? One answer could be to offer home or remote working. This is great for the Christmas period as it ensures staff can stay in touch and get their job done wherever they are – whether they’re at home or away visiting friends and family.
But what should this involve? For starters, you need to draft a formal policy that clearly spells out to employees what their responsibilities are and what company expects from them.
Clearly it’s essential that they have the connectivity that allows them to still be able to do their job properly. For example, if they need to download and transfer large quantities of information remotely, check that their home broadband connection is fast enough to maintain productivity, and whether they have a backup plan in case their primary connection is lost.
You also need to make sure they have the right equipment –both hardware and software. Are laptops, smartphones, etc optimised for their work? Is all essential software - such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) - properly configured?
Ensuring remote communications are as secure as possible is obviously a top priority. Tools such as VPNs can be invaluable, ensuring employees are able to access their company's network via a self-contained, secure connection that offers a fully-protected working environment, just as if they were in the office.
If employees are using their personal devices, such as mobiles, you also need policies in place that stipulate what they can and cannot do when handling company assets and data. It may well be the case remote workers will need to accept some restrictions on software like apps if they want to access confidential company information on their own device.
Finally, you need to make sure your own infrastructure is up to the task of handling a sudden increase in remote connections during the festive period. Will key applications cope as normal if most users are accessing them remotely - and if not, which steps need to be taken to solve these problems, such as provisioning extra bandwidth.
Taking a few simple actions now will help ensure employees who choose to work remotely over the festive season can do so securely, productively and happily. And who knows, if it goes well, you may even decide to introduce remote working more widely in future.
If you would like more information, please contact one of our business specialists on 0800 231 5951 to find out more on how to introduce VPN or provision extra bandwidth.