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Adapting your business to working from home

It has been a difficult time for most of us over the recent weeks. We are clearly not out of the woods just yet although some businesses, mainly in the manufacturing and construction industries, are now returning to work. Early indications are that business owners are finding it difficult to get many of their key members of staff back to work due to childcare challenges. With schools remaining closed, staff are finding that they are unable to find suitable care for their children during the time when they would need to be at work.

There are, however, ways in which we can adapt to cope with some of these circumstances. There is a mixture of opportunities that can soften the blow, although few of them are ideal for anyone. Staggering working times so that parents can take it in turns to look after their children is one idea. There are also very interesting and affordable ways in which technology can help, too. Working from home is not just becoming normal, it’s becoming a necessity.

Historically, most businesses have operated from a central office. Everyone traveled to and from the office at the same times and shared the same office space. This was considered to be normal. The very different times we find ourselves in right now are demanding that we re-assess what ‘normal’ looks like. As business owners, we must therefore start to ask very deep and searching questions of ourselves and our previous levels of expectation. Fundamentally, we need to ask whether the business could adapt to survive if a certain person, or group of people, were not physically present in the office. If that person was able to do their job but from a remote location then could that work? It may be uncomfortable and inconvenient but if our natural answer is ‘no’, then we should then ask ourselves if this answer change to a ‘yes’ if the alternative was that you had to to close our business?

Your Computer Department is 20 years old and, although we have had offices previously, it may surprise some readers to know that we’ve actually been working from home for the last 10 years. We have first-hand experience of creating a professional, yet paperless office and have an environment where every function can be operated as long as everyone has a basic internet connection. As a general rule of thumb, most staff only need the following:

  • Access to files
  • Access to emails
  • Access to telephony

It is worth noting that access to printing/scanning is useful but this is not always essential for every member of staff. In fact, we rarely use these functions in our own office because we have adapted our systems to not need it. We occasionally scan something that someone sends to us so that we can make it available to all of us prior to shredding it, but I can’t remember the last time I actually printed anything for our business.

The gap between what you have now, and the truly location-free setup that we operate here may appear to be be a wide one. Manufacturing, in particular, need factory or workshop space. However, there are many functions that are admin-based and simply need a computer. Most manufacturing businesses rely heavily on their admin staff – and it is typically these admin staff that are key to the efficiency of your business. Could your business work if some or all of your staff worked from home?

So, as you consider your 2-metre distancing rules and discuss your return to work plans, you should also consider that technology is here that can quickly and cost effectively transform your business into the flexible post-pandemic workplace of the future.

Microsoft Office 365 offers many of the elements required in order to adapt to working from home. In fact, as most businesses already use Office 365, it can often be as simple as switching features on or setting them up for you. Whatever your unique situation is, please give me a call and I’ll personally help you to evolve your business thrive as the new, modern workplace.

Please stay alert, work from home if you can, I wish everyone and their families well during this continuing situation.

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By Eddie Palmer

Eddie Palmer is the founder of Nottingham-based Your Computer Department.