By Herbert Lörch
According to Fast Company, plenty of companies have recently struggled urgently to transform large parts of their workforce into work-at-home employees. At the same time, these businesses and employees can seize an opportunity to improve. Done right, both people and companies can enjoy the benefits of a more flexible workforce for years in the future.
Of course, the idea of working at home and at other remote locations has already been growing at a modest but consistent rate. Implementing the policies and systems that can enable more flexible workplaces and schedules would please employees and help businesses compete for the best people
Research has shown that telework opportunities tended to decrease employee attrition, improve morale, reduce absences, increase productivity, and even save companies money.
For just a couple of examples, AT&T found that employees used most of the time they didn’t have to spend on commuting by doing more work, and Sun Microsystems said that their remote employees actually worked five hours a week more than those who had to come into the office.
Polls of professionals found that just about one-third would even choose a work-at-home option over a raise in pay — and about the same percentage would accept a modest decrease in income to have this option.
What’s Wrong with Quick-Fix, Work-at-Home Solutions?
Historically most companies lacked solid continuity plans to accommodate employees for sustained office closings. Lots of less-prepared companies have been allowing employees to turn to ad-hoc solutions like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Zoom.
Some businesses might even mistakenly encourage this to relieve traffic on their own strained networks. Some people may work productively at home. However, they don’t instinctively apply the same good security practices at their home office as they do at work.
For instance, they may have work systems open in one window and social media or streaming services open in another one. They might login to work over an insecure connection or jump into a Zoom meeting that doesn’t require a password without even knowing who else might have entered the meeting to listen in.
At the same time, companies should prepare for an increase in such threats as Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attacks, phishing, and ransomware. Meanwhile, IT security people are far away and probably working from their own homes.
Even beyond urgent security concerns, letting teams and employees pick their own tech solutions can lead to plenty of problems managing data, not least if remote workers begin creating their own data silos. If one team uses Google Drive and another uses email to send attachments back and forth, how can anybody control ownership, versioning, and allowing redundant or outdated information to impact business decisions?
Fast, Secure, Business-Grade Solutions to the Work-at-Home Boom
A modern, intelligent, cloud-based, and enterprise-grade information management system like M-Files will not only alleviate security and data integrity concerns. It can also help improve business processes to make remote or in-office employees even more productive. For instance:
- Client and project information can be accessed and controlled in one single place – no matter where they are saved.
- Managers can set granular rules depending on roles, document type, workflow, and more. Only the right people can access, edit, share, or change information.
- Clients stay informed on the status of the project via a secure and fully customizable portal. Staff chooses what to share, and managers keep control on information.
- Since the system tracks actions, there is full visibility on what changes are made, when, and by whom.
- Staff can find documents with a simple query, just by knowing what they need. Remembering in what folder a document is saved is no longer necessary.
- Processes can be automated, so that documents move with no need to print them or send them. Assignments and notifications tell staff when action is required, for example to review, approve, or sign.
Remote work can please employees and improve business at any time. Right now, finding workable solutions to the growth in remote work has grown critical. Businesses that can quickly implement the best solutions will find ways to emerge from the current situation as better companies and better places to work.