How to work from home: The many ways people can work remotely
Remote working was gaining traction in the UK long before the arrival of Covid-19. The resultant lockdown just turbo-charged the need for millions of us to make space for an office at home. In fact, research by the UK’s Office of National Statistics a few years back suggested that half the UK workforce expected to be working remotely by 2020. And with people now being able to operate successfully from wherever they can access a decent Wi-Fi connection and just about all the technology businesses need being available on the Cloud, all the research suggests that the many ways people can work from home (WFH) will be part of the ‘new normal’ for the UK, long after Coronavirus.
However, as the Covid-19 lockdown clearly demonstrated, the key to people being able to successfully work from anywhere is having access to efficient, effective and available Cloud-based technology and the remote IT support necessary to keep their technology working in that way.
How to make sure you have what you need to successfully work from home
Historically many people – including the self-employed, small business owners, contractors and consultants – have worked from home. However, there’s no doubt that 2020 has been a tipping point in the WFH movement. So, in this blog post we’re going to describe the many ways people can work from home successfully, depending on their role and the needs of their employer. Below you’ll discover:
- How do you define working from home (WFH)?
- What are the benefits of working from home?
- What are the various types of working from home?
- What factors should you consider before implementing working from home
- There is no such thing as business as usual
- Why the right IT and IT support are crucial
How do you define working from home (WFH)?
Working from home or WFH is commonly a situation where people undertake their working role for the organisations that employ them from home, rather than being physically present on the company’s premises.
You’ll often hear WFH referred to as telecommuting or remote working and those that operate in this way referred to as being part of either a virtual or distributed workforce. These are the specific types of working from home we’re going to cover in more detail below.
What are the benefits of working from home?
There are many benefits to remote working, for both employers and their employees.
Employers benefit from better-motivated, productive and loyal staff, closer working relationships with regionally distributed customers, their teams participate in after-hours meetings with global colleagues and clients and their workplace footprint being reduced along with the costly overheads that entails.
Employees benefit from reduced commuting with all that means for their stress levels, bank accounts and the planet, an improved work/life balance and the chance to better care for young children or elderly relatives.
What are the various types of remote working?
As we said in the headline, there are various ways people can work from home and it’s important to understand the differences between them. Each one has it’s own objectives, constraints and requires its own approach to implementation. Your enterprise could embrace one type of WFH model or possibly adopt a mix and match approach, depending on your unique business and operational needs. The various types of home work include:
This is generally considered to be the most common type of working from home scenario and it’s one where each employee is given a laptop, mobile phone and access to the corporate network which enables them to perform their usual tasks and attend meetings outside of business hours.
In this set-up, the employee spends most of their time working in the office as normal, with WFH something they only do occasionally. With this kind of remote access, there often isn’t a dedicated home office workspace or equipment. Usually the employee simply finds a quiet corner in the home in which to work to work. This could range from the kitchen table to a spare bedroom.
When an employee works from home occasionally during business hours it’s often referred to as ‘telecommuting.’ Some companies allow their team to WFH one day a week (usually a Friday) as part of their routine. Typically in this set-up, the employee has some sort of workspace set aside at home, although it isn’t usually a full-on office but just a desk in a guest room.
The idea is that the telecommuting employee should be able to interact with their colleagues as if they were physically in the office together. Because of this, telecommuters typically have a high-speed Internet connection, an office phone (or voice over Internet protocol – VoIP – set up on their computer) and external monitors in their home workspace. However, generally they won’t have all the equipment and resources available that they’d expect access to in their office (such as printers, scanners and ergonomic furniture, for example) because they aren’t working from home full-time.
While many businesses might routinely have most of their staff working in the office on a day-to-day basis, some of their people could well have a role that’s designated as a full-time teleworker. Such roles are most commonly found amongst sales, consulting, and field service staff, where their primary job responsibilities are outside the company’s offices and at customer sites.
The key difference between full-time teleworkers and telecommuters is that they don’t typically have a workspace assigned in their employer’s offices. As a result, full-time teleworkers typically have more complete remote work set-ups. These enable them to WFH, from a coffee shop or hotel room while traveling or from a customer’s site. It’s not unusual then for teleworkers to have a dedicated home office space (usually a separate room) that is equipped with all of the furniture, supplies and resources they might expect to find and use in a company office building. Examples include dual monitor set-ups, full-time, always-on access to the company network and a separate business office phone.
This working from home scenario is similar to full-time teleworkers but on a much larger, enterprise or department-wide scale. In this set-up, entire business functions work from home full-time. In fact, some companies are entirely virtual with no physical premises at all; although some have just a small (often serviced) office space for the senior management team to meet.
Other organisations leverage a virtual workforce set-up for functions such as customer service (answering phones and emails, for example), while other departments like product development, finance and administration work in traditional office settings.
What makes a virtual workforce different from the other WFH types is that IT infrastructures, business processes and management practices are optimised for a distributed workforce. For example, meetings usually take place via conferencing systems instead of in conference rooms, documents are shared electronically instead of printed and workflows are enabled via IT systems instead of physical interaction.
What factors should you consider before implementing a remote working policy
The way your organisation embraces and implements a working from home policy will depend on a combination of factors including your company culture, the nature of your industry, the type of work that needs to be undertaken, the availability of IT systems to support remote productivity and the comfort level and skill of your management team to coordinate remote work.
What’s more, it’s common for some companies to have WFH policies that vary greatly by business function or job role. It’s not hard to imagine an organisation where managers and IT staff have remote access, professional functions (like finance or HR) telecommute, sales staff and consultants are full-time teleworkers and customer service teams are organised as an entirely virtual workforce.
There is no such thing as business as usual
One thing the Coronavirus pandemic has surely taught us all is that we must not simply expect the unexpected but be ready for it. We need to have flexible disaster recovery, business continuity and contingency plans in place.
Being organised and equipped for, and implementing, a work from home policy is a concrete, responsive and proactive step a positive direction. Indeed, with the right consultation, imagination, planning and preparation between employers and employees, WFH can be a powerful tool to help your business survive and thrive through the most turbulent times, while helping to create a highly productive, engaged and resilient workforce.
Why the right IT and IT support are crucial
As we said at the start of this piece, the implementation of an efficient, effective and available Cloud-based IT infrastructure and the remote IT support necessary to keep that technology working to keep your people working, is a mission critical factor in your work from home plan.
And that’s where the highly expert and experienced IT support professionals here enter the picture. Our specialist WFH IT Support team can deliver exemplary remote IT support to all your home working staff that use Cloud-based solutions, such as Microsoft 365 or Google Google Workspace, no matter where they are across the UK. Our job is to keep your IT doing its job – that’s keeping your people performing, productive and profitable.
This new IT support service is bought to you by the totality services team, who have earned a Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award two years running, Five Star ratings from both Trustpilot and Google and a 98% client retention rate. So why not call WFH IT Support for a confidential, no obligation chat about your remote IT support requirements?