Essential tools for remote working

The last 18 months have seen more people than ever thrust into a situation where they’ve had to work from home. And as we emerge out the other side, many businesses are considering a ‘remote first’ policy or ‘hybrid’ working (part time home and part time office).

If your business is going to offer remote working, you’ll have to make sure your equipment is up to scratch and employees can work just as well from home as they can from the office.

The trouble is, technology is advancing at a breakneck speed so it can be difficult to work out exactly what equipment will be needed – keeping employees in touch via teleconference is easy enough, but will you need additional hardware and software to enable employees to do their job while on the move?

To help answer this question, here are a few essential tools for businesses on the move…

What hardware do you need to work remotely?

  • A laptop/tablet – If you have employees working remotely – be that from your office, a client’s office, at home or on the move – they’ll at least need to be kitted out with a laptop, tablet or perhaps a laptop/tablet hybrid.However, the countless number of computer devices out there means choosing a computer might not be as straightforward as you think, so do your research and consider things like storage, speed, wireless connectivity and whether it’s compatible with your current systems.
    So before choosing your hardware, do some research to see what’s out there, keeping your business needs and budget at the forefront of your mind and considering things like hard drive size, processor speeds, wireless connectivity and compatibility with your existing systems.
  • USB headset and webcam – When employees are working remotely, they’ll need to keep in touch with colleagues or clients via conference call or video conference so makes sense to kit them out with a good quality headset and webcam to make sure they don’t miss a single minute of a vital meeting.
    So it’s worth investing in a good quality USB headset and external webcam, preferably with an external microphone and HD capabilities if budget allows.
  • SmartphoneIt’s unlikely that a good old-fashioned mobile will cut it in the business world anymore so it’s probably worth supplying employees with a smartphone that can sync emails and calendars to help make sure no meetings are missed.When choosing a phone and a tariff look for a business package that comes with enough inclusive data to see you through the month.

What software do you need to work remotely?

  • Remote access/VPN – In order to effectively work remotely, employees will need to be able to connect to the company’s main server and their desktop computer and so reliable virtual private network (VPN) software with remote access is essential.
    Once set up this means employees can work remotely via another computer, tablet or smartphone from anywhere there’s an internet connection and access files and office software as if they were sat at their desk.
  • Broadband connectivity – Even if your employees have broadband at home you may have to upgrade their system to a business package to be able to meet the extra demands of a business user.
  • Cloud storage/file sharing – Employees will also benefit from access to a secure cloud-based storage system that comes with up-to-the-minute encryption services and the capability to operate on a range of desktop and mobile devices.Setting this up can work well as a back-up system in-case the VPN network isn’t accessible and can also help workflow as a number of workers can simultaneously access and edit files.