Make it easy with the right software, hardware, and support
A note from our service delivery manager Mitchell Wright on learnings from Covid-19 and working remotely.
The COVID-19 lockdown saw all kinds of people working from home – with mixed results. Those who were already set up with the tech they needed found it a relatively smooth transition, while others found themselves lugging workstations home and struggling to use remote-working apps. Although restrictions have eased and offices are slowly reopening, the lockdown proved what some already knew – the ability to work remotely is essential in the modern workplace.
At Base2, mobility and remote access have always been available, but COVID-19 forced us to put our tech to the test. Thanks to our comprehensive remote-access toolset, we were able to meet with colleagues and clients, access all files and data, use our phone systems and workflow software, and communicate with co-workers throughout the day – all without leaving our respective houses.
Although it’s looking like we will be able to return to the office soon, we’re not in a rush to get back to our old work habits. In fact, they might just change for good. Working from home and remote client visits save time and money spent on travel – not to mention reducing traffic volumes and emissions. Being able to work anywhere also gives our staff more flexibility to meet family commitments and balance work with home life. It’s a modern approach to business – not 9-5 in the office, but whenever and wherever as long as the work gets done.
Here’s what we’ve learned about working from home – and how to make it work for you:
Remote productivity – the tools and tech you need
Without the right technology, working from home can be an exercise in frustration and inefficiency. If your team doesn’t have access to the tools used in the office, productivity will be affected, and any travel-time savings will be lost.
Fortunately, with cloud-based storage and remote access, you can set your team up to work from home efficiently. Access to file storage, monitoring and management systems, ticketing and time tracking, meetings and collaboration through chat programs and video, even office phone systems can be used from home with a hosted VoIP platform. Some of our clients have taken their phone systems home with them – literally – plugging office handsets into home routers and taking calls as usual.
The Base2 team was well set up from the start, with all of our apps based in the cloud – phones, files, remote monitoring and management, and our job ticketing system. Our team could access all these systems through mobile devices, work laptops or home computers.
Solo work from home is easy, but there’s a perception that being face-to-face is better for communication and collaborative work. Base2, and many of our clients, found that this is not necessarily accurate.
Before and during the lockdown, we saw a huge spike in the use of Microsoft Teams. Our engineering team was able to get most of our clients up and running with the software, so they could benefit from communication and collaboration tools while working remotely.
The Base2 team was no different. We used MS Teams to keep in near-constant contact from home. We used the chat function to keep in touch throughout the day, asking questions about jobs, discussing issues, and even checking in on staff wellbeing with daily health questions, which helped us feel connected at a challenging time. For face-to-face communication, meetings with staff and clients were run through the Teams video platform. This software provides a secure way to run meetings with up to 250 people at a time – essential when in-person conversations were impossible.
Hardware, software, and support
Software systems tend to be the focus when it comes to working from home – but hardware is just as important. If you’re working on an underpowered or out-of-date laptop, for example, you won’t be able to make the most of your software applications. On the other hand, if you don’t have the software set up and ready to go, there’s no point in having the latest hardware.
Every business has different tech needs – some just need internet access and a couple of simple online workflow applications, while others need more complex set-ups with headsets and multiple screens. It’s about giving your team the right tech for their work and keeping it up to date as well. If you don’t update software and hardware regularly, you can miss out on new features and security enhancements.
It’s also about practicality – large desktop set-ups with multiple screens, plus plug-in keyboards and other accessories, aren’t easy to transport if you’re switching to remote work or mixing home and office work. Small, portable laptops are designed for mobility. Of course, super-compact set-ups don’t work for everyone – it’s important to balance flexibility and mobility with your specific business needs.
Features and future-proofing
If you’re switching to a work-from-home approach or mixing remote work with time in the office, you might need to upgrade your tech. Small, sleek laptops are the obvious choice, as they’re easy to transport and use anywhere. During the lockdown, our clients with complex workstations were the ones who found it most difficult to work remotely. If you’re shifting to part-time work from home, it’s simply not practical to have staff moving back and forth with desktop computers and accessories.
However, when you’re looking at laptop options, you need to make sure that small and portable doesn’t lead to reduced work capacity. Most smaller devices now have fewer USB or USBC ports available, making it difficult if you need to connect accessories or extra monitors. Docking stations or port replicators can solve this problem. You also need to ensure that you have the processing power to cope with your work – 16GB of RAM is standard for our engineering team, but different types of work have different requirements.
Reassess and upgrade
Although the lockdown is over, reassessing and upgrading your tech means that you’ll be set up to benefit from remote work, even when things get back to normal. Mobility is no longer a bonus extra, it’s an essential feature of the modern workplace.
And, with help from Base2, there’s no better time to upgrade your hardware. HP is offering cashback on selected HP laptops, so you can set your team up for WFH success without overspending. We’ll also help you set up the apps and systems you need to make remote work simple and efficient.
Need to upgrade your remote-work tool-set? Get in touch with your requirements, let our team handle it.