For the last three months, UK businesses have had to adjust their working environments to allow staff to work from home. In this 3 month time frame, our houses have become offices, nurseries, schools, gyms, yoga studios and everything in between but with the end seemingly in site, it is vital that businesses start planning their eventual return to the office.
Have you made any preparations?
It has been evident since the beginning of the lockdown that those who had a clear and effective business continuity plan found the process of moving to remote working much less stressful and encountered far less business interruption.
Those that left it until the last minute? Well, they struggled. Wasted time and Suffered bigger losses in productivity (which could have easily been avoided).
So, how do you start planning your return?
Before we begin planning, I would advise you to open a Microsoft Word document or grab a pen and some paper. Take a few minutes to assess the impact that the lockdown has had on your business. What worked well? What surprised you? Did your IT provider help get you up and running fast enough? What would you do differently if you had time to plan?
Make sure you right down all of the points you just thought of, it will make planning your return to much easier.
First of all, think about your people
It is highly likely that there’ll be a phased end to the lockdown. That might mean that, understandably, not everyone in your company can return at the same time. To make sure that the right members of your team come back at the right time, you should consider:
- Are any of your team part of a high risk group?
- Do any of your team live with someone that is high risk?
- You have probably noticed that working remotely hasn’t been as bad as you expected, will you become more flexible and promote remote working moving forward?
- Who has thrived remotely? Has there been any staff members that have thrived and become more productive since working from home? In the event of a phased return to the office, those that have thrived should be among the last to return.
Next, have a look at your equipment
While working from outside the office, your team have needed devices to work on and a home setup that allows them to access your network, files, application etc.
How has the ‘at home setup‘ worked for you and your team?
If you planned ahead of time, there was probably little difference to your equipment inventory as staff may have already been using company issued laptops installed with a Microsoft 365 productivity suite and a VoIP ready phone system to allow the best communications internally and externally to your business.
If you didn’t, what are the changes you would make once these measures are eased? What changes do you still need to make to promote remote working for your team on a regular basis?
How will you manage the safekeeping and return of any company equipment during this process? Has your IT service provider been proactive and kept an accurate and up-to-date asset list?
If you plan on keeping some of your staff working remotely, do they have everything they need to do so productively in the future? If they do not, what do they need and when?
This bit is important, Cyber Security
Access to your critical data has likely been moved across a whole range of devices. Originating from your workplace, to your employee managed devices and now needs to be safely moved back to your workplace. Do you know if your data could have been compromised during this process? What controls and measures do you have in place to ensure the safety of your data?
If you have managed the move well, and your team have followed security protocols, your data should be watertight. Are you aware of where your company data is held and whether data has left the control on your organisation? What provisions do you have in place to protect your data that may be stored on personally owned devices?
If you managed the move in a rush, could you have been a little more thorough?
Ensuring that all data is safe, secure and protected and keeping it that way should be a board-level objective. If cyber security is not your area of expertise, please get in touch to claim a free Cyber Security Review from the south of England’s Leading Cyber Security Specialists.
Finally, look at cost savings
There is no shying away from the fact that times are going to be tough for a while. The economy has been impacted in an almost unprecedented way and us SMEs are going to have to ‘tighten our belts’ in some way to continue evolving and thriving.
Although, it goes without saying, IT is never something to under-invest in, given it has a direct impact on the productivity of your team and the security of your valuable business data.
If your business found the move to remote working quite easy, how can you use this to your advantage and to help save valuable capital in the future? For example, if you plan on allowing some members of your team to permanently work remotely, what does that mean for your premises? Could you make savings by downsizing?
Have you found yourself less reliant on anything since working from home? Maybe business meetings can be held online to save money on travel time and the associated costs?
The time to take action is now
Whether you can’t wait to get back to your office, or you are secretly enjoying working from home more than you expected, hopefully you now see that even a simple bit of planning can help your business go a long way.
Planning your business’ eventual return to the workplace should not be put off. The more you do now to improve your business’ systems, security and productivity, means there will be far less chance of getting caught off guard when the lockdown starts to ease.
Expert advice, here when you need us!
If you could use any help with the planning and implementation of the technical side of your return to the workplace, please get in touch! We would love to help you make the transition as smooth as possible without your team wasting any further time.