Allowing employees to work from home can be a real boost for your business. Having access to a flexible schedule and avoiding a long commute can help employees be healthier, happier, less stressed and more productive. If you’re interested in making this option a reality for your business, there are a few technologies that can help. Of course, you’ll need to start out with a secure computer and fast internet access. But what else will you need beyond those basics?
1. Secure Password Generator
If your employees are using a PC, you’ll definitely want anti-virus and firewall software installed. But it’s surprisingly easy for business owners to forget about another vulnerability: passwords. If your employees are working from home, you might want to invest in a password manager like LastPass Enterprise. This will ensure that you have access to your employees’ work passwords and that their passwords are kept secure. Make sure you employ two-step authentication with LastPass for extra security.
You don’t want to make your employees commute back to the office every time you have a meeting. Videoconferencing is a great way to discuss important items as a group. Popular applications that make this possible include Skype and Google Hangouts. Your employees can participate via a webcam or even their phone.
3. File Sharing
When employees are working from home, it’s best to use a file-sharing application rather than just emailing attachments back and forth. Dropbox is one option preferred by many small-business owners which lets you share and sync documents. But if security is a concern, try Nomadesk. Nomadesk offers extra security features for a low cost.
4. Screen Sharing
Screen-sharing apps can be a vital tool for collaboration, troubleshooting technical issues or even giving a presentation during a teleconferenced meeting. Free apps like TeamViewer can get the job done. If you’re already using Google Hangouts, the app offers a screen-sharing option too.
5. Project Management
One of the biggest difficulties you’ll encounter when you have employees working from different locations is keeping everyone on the same page. That’s where a good project management software system comes in handy. Trello is one popular option that provides a bulletin-board-like interface with action items and team projects. Another option is Asana, which is more robust but also comes with a slightly steeper learning curve.
You might also want to consider setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It lets telecommuting employees access internal networks privately through an encrypted connection, such as connecting their home computer to the office server. You might need an IT specialist to help you set this up.
6. Multifunction Printers vs. Apps
Sometimes you still need to scan or fax items, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy an expensive all-in-one printer to make it happen. Although such a printer would certainly be a nice perk, it won’t be a necessity for most of your employees. Apps like CamScanner can often replace basic scanning functions. You can also fax documents online using a service like FaxZero instead of a fax machine of your own.
7. External Hard Drive or Cloud Storage Backup
Don’t run the risk of losing everything your employees are working on just because they had a devastating power surge. Invest in an external hard drive to back up documents or suggest your employees set up a cloud backup system, like Carbonite.
These are the basics for allowing employees to work from home. Of course, exactly what is needed will vary depending on your company and the employee’s job. For example, some companies must follow heightened security measures, requiring specialized software in some cases. And a video editor or graphic designer would need a more powerful computer. When you’re going to let employees telecommute, take the time to ask them what they’ll need to do their job efficiently and excellently.
What technology do you use for telecommuting employees? Let us know in the comments below.