What should Senior Management be considering when asking a large workforce to work from home?

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Posted on: 06/03/2020

As the UK begins to feel the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and numbers jump to 115 reported UK cases and almost 100,000 worldwide, many organizations are implementing ‘social distancing,’ cancelling events and encouraging employees to work from home.

Twitter and Microsoft have reportedly asked their employees globally to work from home amidst the outbreak.

Modality Systems Principle Solutions Architect, Tom Arbuthnot, provides some thoughts on the cultural and technological factors to consider when implementing home working at scale to minimize the productivity impact this may have.

Culturally:

  • Not everything needs to be a meeting. Group chat collaboration platforms provide a great way for distributed teams to stay connected.
  • Encourage “working out loud” and remind people to overcommunicate on what they are up to. They may be used to informal updates when being in the same physical office.
  • Consider a standard practice like a daily stand-up or an end-of-the-day check in. This could be email/chat-based but provides a consistent structure.
  • Consider pre-scheduled “no agenda/catch up” meetings to keep communication flowing.
  • Consider using a group chat or enterprise social platform to help replace some of the “office bonding” that happens when everyone is in the same office.
  • When hosting online meetings, video and screen sharing provide much higher engagement and productivity than audio alone.
  • Encourage people to maintain a routine and try to get outside/take breaks. Working from home for the first time can be a tough transition for some people.

On the technical front:

Do you have the right tools? Will they scale to the concurrency you will need?

  • Physical tools for users
    • Do users have laptops/mobile devices they can use
    • Do users have headsets to do calls and meetings remotely with good quality audio. Laptop microphones give a poor call/meeting experience for everyone. A proper noise-canceling headset with an easy mute button will improve the home workers’ experience.
    • Do users have reliable internet connectivity to work from home
  • Software
    • Can users access the business applications they need
    • Is remote access secure and scalable
    • Is there a calling and meetings platform that can be used
    • Do all tools and platforms scale to the number of remote users you may have concurrently
    • Watch for on-premise UC platforms that may not have been architected to scale for 100% of users being remote concurrently
    • Watch for VPN/remote access solutions that don’t have the right level of concurrency or bandwidth

If you have any questions or would like to book a call to discuss your remote working requirements please contact enquiries@modalitysystems.com

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