Where do you do it? In your bedroom? On the kitchen table? On the sofa? Even in the garden if it’s nice and sunny?
We’re talking about working from home, of course – something 49% of the UK workforce did during lockdown.
After a brief period of encouraging people back to the workplace was replaced with renewed advice to work from home if possible, it’s now clear that working from home, or at least a mix of remote and workplace-based working, is likely to remain with us for the foreseeable future.
When working from home was seen as a short-term measure – perhaps even a novelty for many of us – at the start of lockdown, lots of us were happy to make do just to get through it.
If that meant balancing a laptop on our knees, taking over the dining room, using home broadband and muddling through as best we could, that was fine – we were all in it together.
But if you’re going to ask employees to do this on a longer term or permanent basis, it’s a much bigger deal. Yes, we’re all much more used to using platforms such as Teams and Zoom than we were at the start of lockdown, and we can all get by. But it’s not about “just getting by” any more – it’s about making sure your organisation is set up to thrive.
That most probably means a long, hard look at the technology you’re using.
We know that every organisation, the way it works and the needs of its people are different, and as a platform-agnostic supplier we’re able to find devices and solutions that are a good fit for every business.
Our recent Round Table event, at which we talked to employers at companies with anything from 50 to 27,000 employers about the challenges of Covid, flagged up some general themes about how they had struggled to get the right technology in place for successful day-to-day working. This is in line with a recent Onecom survey of 1,000 businesses which found that 86% faced “significant” tech challenges as a result of lockdown.
Here are some of them – and some ways in which they can be overcome.
Sorry, can you hear me? You’ve frozen…
We’ve all been there – video calls freezing, the internet going down, or everything slowing down once the kids get home and log on to their XBoxes or fire up Netflix. To ease this, the start of lockdown, Netflix and others throttled their services to make way for the huge spike of work traffic coming from people’s homes.
Home broadband is simply not set up for the amount of traffic needed for mass homeworking. Whether in crowded cities where there is competition for bandwidth, or rural areas where connections are poor, employers now need to think about how to get their workers out of the cul-de-sac and onto the information superhighway.
A fast and cost-effective solution can be to supply members of staff with 4G or 5G routers which carry internet traffic over high-speed mobile networks, which can reach speeds that are faster than domestic broadband. Onecom offers a wide variety of routers with business-grade 4G and 5G connectivity.
Getting the right phone to ring
At our round table, Nigel Tasker, Group IT Director of the equipment rental company Andrew Sykes Group, explained a challenge his company faced at the start of lockdown. “We have contact centres and get most of our business via phone,” he told us. “We had to do a lot of work around manually diverting calls to mobiles, and mobile to mobile forwarding. With 28 depots around the UK, that was a challenge”.
This will still be a headache for many businesses – if people call your office and nobody is there, how can you be sure they will be forwarded to the right person at home? The potential to miss sales opportunities or other important calls is enormous. A smart system that automatically diverts calls to users who are available to take them, wherever they are, solves this common problem.
Taking your work home with you
A lot of us are neither here nor there – spending some of our working week at home and some in the office. Cloud-based services such as Office 365 make it simple to pick up emails and projects wherever you are. However, without having a permanent computer set up at your home and another at your place of work, it can still be a challenge to split your time in this way.
This is where powerful mobile devices like Samsung’s range of DeX-supported devices some in. DeX is a powerful wireless tool that works with the Galaxy range of smart phones and tablets. As well as enabling you to cast movies, presentations and more to Smart TVs, it can effectively turn Samsung tablets into a computer just like the one in the office. Paired with a Book Cover keyboard which features a trackpad and function keys, you can just pick it up and take it with you for a full workstation experience wherever you are. So whether you’re at home, at work, or on the road, your work is always at your fingertips. For peace of mind, highly-secure services such as Samsung Knox keep your information safe from hackers and prying eyes.
Printer not found
It’s not just colleagues that you missed while you were away from the office. You may have had a PC or laptop but devices you usually don’t give a second thought to were suddenly out of reach during lockdown. During the round table, the inability to scan or print documents was highlighted as an unexpected problem.
In some cases, it may be that printing was unnecessary anyway – and lockdown has been the catalyst for using more eco-friendly and cost-effective digital documents instead. It may be that rather than printing leaflets, brochures or presentations, they can be displayed on a tablet instead. If a physical document is a must then home printers can be installed.
Scanning documents is simple – the answer is in your pocket. Most smartphones now have the built-in ability to scan documents using their cameras, and apps such as Tiny Scanner make this a painless task.
If you would like to speak to a Onecom specialist about how to get your teams set up for long-term remote or blended working, contact us for a free consultation.