Business as unusual - making homeworking work for the new normal

A lot can happen in a couple of months. And a lot certainly has happened since the UK locked down on March 23rd. Business has changed for good - and possibly, just possibly, for the better. We’ve had to adapt quickly, and challenges around  productivity, security, resiliency, collaboration that were previously levelled at remote working have been disproved or overcome.

As the controlled chaos begins to settle, it’s time to find opportunities to put that accelerated learning into action, and create long term operational improvements.

We’re beginning to get a clearer picture of how operations are likely to look like over the next few months, and over the long term. And it’s quite a change. There’s still some uncertainty but one thing’s for sure: homeworking is here to stay.

Necessity is the mother of invention. During this period of unpredictability, UK businesses have made working from home work. We’ve adapted admirably, but it’s largely been trial and error.

Advice on getting it right is everywhere: empowering your team with the right tools, keeping them engaged, ensuring productivity isn’t compromised.

So, let’s get down to business: three considerations for implementing a successful home working strategy - a nice quick read for your telecommute.


Make the right connection

They’ve got laptops, video conferencing software and second screens - your homeworkers are all set up and ready to go, right? Wrong.

The tech that homeworkers rely on is only as effective as the connection it runs through. All internet isn’t created equal, and the residential connections we’ve relied on so far aren’t fast, secure or reliable enough to handle business traffic. Now our employees are homeworking for the long term, it’s time to de-risk.

Internet services that are specifically built for business include a number of device and network-level security features such as firewalls and threat detection. These protect your business from malicious sites and internet misuse.

Upload speeds are another, often overlooked, consideration. Vital to online collaboration, they’re key to sharing real-time video, using cloud data storage solutions without frustration, and co-working on shared files. Now more than ever, businesses need the tools that will enable them to bounce back to full productivity quickly - minimising not only lost revenue, but also employee frustration.

Static IPs are another benefit unique to business connections. They’re perfect for running fixed assets like CCTV and alarms systems, in the event that your business needs to monitor its empty premises.

Supporting homeworkers is an important part of today’s business IT. Now homeworking is here to stay, employees need reliable access to the VPN. And you can’t manage employees’ residential connections - they’re nothing to do with you! By implementing a central network of connections and associated policies, you take back control of your systems environment and gain greater insight into operations. 

We offer both managed and unmanaged homeworker packages to suit your network infrastructure and CPE strategy. We’ll find and fix any faults employees report - to you or us. Our dedicated UK support team, rated 4.3 on Trustpilot (and aiming for higher!), is on-hand  365 days a year to deliver the business-grade service that just wouldn’t be possible via residential connections.

If the internet goes down at the office, you want it fixed ASAP. And the same goes for your homeworkers: internet outages on a residential line mean hours - maybe days - of lost productivity. Our business connections mean fast fixes, and agreed SLAs.

Take the complications out of collaboration

Keeping communication as it should be - it’s a hard thing to perfect. You need to help your staff communicate in the right way, with the right people, at the right time.  While you need to make sure your homeworkers don’t end up on endless video calls just for the sake of getting everyone together, you also need connectivity that will support essential online meetings while face-to-face contact is a no-go.

Keeping staff morale up is important, especially at times like this so look for tools that enable your workers to communicate in different ways. IM software like Slack, Skype for Business, and MiCollab, are perfect for quick check-ins. Save emails for more involved dialogue, and make video calls more enjoyable by saving them for where they offer the most value.

Collaborative tools like virtual retro boards, workshop facilitators, and live polls and Q&As, keep staff engaged during town halls. In short: make sure you’re using the right tools for every job.

Even as we start to return to the office part-time, home is still HQ. And as we start to see more hybrid meetings - some live attendees, others dialling in - it’ll be even more important to get the formula right. Remote employees need to feel involved; ‘on site’ employees need equal access to interactive tech.


Expect distraction and work around it

Not necessarily the case for regular homeworkers, childcare continues to be a challenge for many employees.

It’s an issue that tech can help to overcome. Make time for regular check-ins that accommodate individual circumstances. Set your expectations, and offer flexible ways for staff to meet them. Keeping in touch is more important than ever but, with a rich tech stack in place, you can host quick and effective check-ins with the different members of your team. One person might prefer a video call at 9am, while another may need to update via IM after you’ve logged off for the day.


Get new norm ready

Helping homeworking to thrive in the new norm should be easier than ever, given the number and quality of remote working tools available to us today. You need a business-grade connection to support it.

At TalkTalk Business, we’ve been developing ways to support UK businesses since the COVID-19 crisis began. We’ve already optimised our network to manage 30% daytime uplifts, and accommodated a 10% rise in demand for voice - which translates to 6 million voice calls/day. We’re also designing and upgrading firewalls for key business, to help identify malicious domains, and passing the information gathered to service providers to blacklist.

Our latest initiative, designed to make work life easier and more productive for homeworkers and employers, has resulted in the launch of two new Homeworker packages - delivering business-grade fibre connections, with flexible management levels and contract terms, to residential properties.

We’re dedicated to supporting the UK’s businesses as they begin to build back better. We promise no in-contract price rises, flexible packages to make deploying a distributed home network more manageable, and the level of  security you need. 

Explore the available packages here to see how we could better connect your homeworkers.