With increasing frequency, people are working remotely—meaning outside of a central office. A recent Gallup poll found that close to 40% of all businesses allow employees to work remotely at least part time. These arrangements can provide a needed break from commuting as well as concentrated work time away from the interruption-filled office environment. The flexibility of remote work can also foster loyalty and provide the best employee output—two big benefits for small companies who are competing against big companies for the best talent.

Here are considerations to ensure maximum productivity of your remote workers:

Hardware
An employee’s remote workspace should have the same level of technology as his or her office. A lack of appropriate technology in the remote office can decrease remote worker productivity and potentially increase frustration if co-workers have to pick up the slack. Be sure your remote employees have access to loaner computers to take home. The investment will pay off in increased productivity and enhanced security. If scanning, printing or other tasks are likely to be required during the day, the technology to support these tasks is probably also a good investment.

Telecommunications
Remote employees need to stay in touch with the office, customers and suppliers to stay as productive as possible and up to date on important company or customer developments.

Consider providing your remote employees with a separate business phone line, business-class Internet service, a router that will provide a fast and reliable Internet connection, and voicemail and conferencing services.

Access to company documents
The ability to retrieve documents, inventory status, and other key information will ensure that remote work proceeds as smoothly as work done in the office. This infrastructure will also cut down on remote worker requests for assistance from those still in the office to provide information or documents. Remote network access also enables employees to securely store documents they create at home, which will cut down on lost information due to backup issues and technology problems.

If you provide remote access to your server, be reassured that this access can be kept secure with proper safeguards.

Security
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can give easy access to remote workers requiring data, documents, reports, and other key company information when they are out of the office. A VPN enables you to protect information that could be compromised when employees access a network from outside of your company. Security will be enhanced if you provide the hardware and software that remote workers use when they are out of the office. The added expense of a VPN will likely be offset by the increased security compared to other ways to access your company information remotely.

 

A few basic support systems can go a long way toward increasing productivity and security for remote workers. These improvements will enable you and your staff to get the upside from the work arrangement while minimizing potential threats and downsides.

 

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