How to Adapt Your Business Operations to the Coronavirus and Future Remote Needs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 28.8% of American employees routinely work from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed that. Nearly all non-manufacturing businesses have asked their employees to work from home if they can. Experts have also warned that future stay-at-home orders might be necessary before the Coronavirus has been completely mitigated.
For this reason, your business may benefit from developing a robust remote working strategy that you can implement on an as-needed basis. How can a business prepare for the coronavirus, and be ready should at-home work be needed in the future? Below, we’ve developed a guide for remote business operations in such situations.
Adapting Your Business Operations to Remote Operations
To adapt your typical business operations to remote operations, your company can take the following steps:
- Identify potential remote workers: The first step in developing a work-from-home strategy is figuring out which employees can work remotely and which cannot. Some employees perform essential functions at work that they cannot perform from home. Others cannot do their jobs from home because of compliance or security requirements. Whenever possible, though, staff should work from outside the office.
- Determine the necessary assistance and accommodations: Employees may need support when preparing to work from home, like assistance installing the required software on their personal computers. Some employees may also need reduced or altered work schedules to accommodate their childcare responsibilities. In pandemics like the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s likely that many schools will close.
- Invest in at-home capabilities: Businesses preparing for pandemics may need to invest in employees’ in-home capabilities as well. Some employees may need to obtain a computer that has the right technological capacities for their work. Others may need to upgrade their internet access or establish Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capabilities. Businesses should be willing to cover the expenditures necessary for their employees to work effectively in these extraordinary situations.
- Give employees support: Though working from home may seem like a benefit, shifting into this workflow can be challenging — especially during stressful times. Employees may struggle to learn new software or miss deadlines as they learn to juggle their work duties and their personal responsibilities from the same space. They might also need emotional support as they adjust to the isolation and monotony of working from home. Whatever forms of support you can give can make employees feel valued and may boost their productivity over the long term.
CTI on COVID-19
CTI has implemented changes to usual protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide rapid, dependable business solutions in this time of need. We continue to provide the same high-performance systems as always. We are proud to offer the following services to help companies transition to remote models and protect employees from infection:
- Waived rush fees: Due to heightened work-from-home operations, we no longer charge rush or expedited fees for rapid turnaround times. We will handle every request with the highest priority, for no extra cost.
- Remote work solutions: CTI offers the latest in remote work solutions, including premium voice and unified communications, and dedicated IT services and support.
- Remote inclusion capabilities: The majority of Avaya systems, along with CTI’s cloud-based UC systems, offer ways to incorporate remote workers into the system from outside the company’s building.
- Secure remote access: CTI can help your company develop a cloud-based, virtual private networking environment that you can integrate with your existing data and voice systems. This setup allows your at-home employees to gain secure remote access to business data.
- Premium collaboration tools: CTI is also working with Avaya to offer premium collaboration tools such as Avaya Spaces and Avaya contact center solutions.
- Advice on managing a remote workforce: Handling a distributed workforce can be a challenge, even for seasoned managers. CTI has created a PDF with best practices for managing a virtual team in this situation.
- A 24/7 support team: Our support team is available around the clock to provide critical assistance for any remote operations challenges your business faces.
How to Prepare for the Future
As much as we don’t like to think about it, this pandemic has taught us the importance of being prepared, should future business disruptions occur. Fortunately, companies can take steps to be prepared.
Normalizing Remote Work
For many businesses, in-office work is the norm, and remote work happens occasionally to accommodate travel schedules or a child’s illness. Many business operations and workflows are not designed to handle large amounts of remote workers — especially within IT infrastructure. By boosting IT infrastructure capacities now, businesses can ensure they are ready for any future outbreaks.
Many employees who work full time from their offices do not have the setup or habits to work productively from home. They may not have the networking capabilities or internet speed to collaborate from home, and they may struggle to minimize distractions from family members, home tasks, the news and more. Encouraging employees to work from home before they are required to do so may help them sort these issues out.
When companies are planning for the next pandemic, it may be helpful to focus on the following areas of operation:
- VPN abilities: Virtual private network (VPN) operations are the backbone of many remote workforces. A VPN allows remote employees to share applications, files, email systems, databases and other necessary tools via a secure network. The VPN systems at many workplaces are designed for a few employees — not the entire workplace. Boosting your hardware capacity and adding user licenses for software may enable a smoother tradition to full-scale remote work down the road.
- VoIP abilities and remote extensions: VoIP abilities are also critical for remote workforces. VoIP enables workplaces to handle high volumes of calls, like in call centers. Remote users can use mobile VoIP services to re-route work calls to their personal phones.
- VDI services: Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) services allow employees to access the same functionality at home that they have with their high-speed connections at work. These services can be fully remote desktop setups, or they may be app streaming services. Some services can even add capacity without requiring more internet bandwidth or computer resources than usual.
- Remote security: Remote security is essential for managing a remote workforce, but it may cause issues for employees as they try to access work applications. A robust network access control (NAC) system may pose a barrier to home computers and laptops, especially if those devices contain malware. Addressing these issues in advance can streamline the home computer interfacing process when it’s time to implement full-scale remote operations.
Our Services to Help a Remote Workforce
CTI offers several different services to help outfit a remote workforce, including the following.
In your business’s network, all the parts are connected — from the data center, wireless network and applications to the IP telephony and unified communications software. Enterprise networking allows your business to integrate these disparate parts seamlessly to create a cohesive, reliable and high-performance network.
Avaya Communication Systems
Avaya unified communications systems offer ways to streamline communications, including:
- Avaya IP Office for small and mid-sized organizations
- Avaya Aura® Communications Manager for enterprise clients
These systems ensure clients can easily reach the right person within your business, no matter where that person is working. They also give your team a diverse set of tools to communicate with one another and their clients, all over a single reliable network.
Avaya communications systems offer the following tools:
- Multiple types of voice support
- Videoconferencing infrastructure
- Virtualization for systems and software
- Mobile and desktop applications
- Instant messaging
- Customer service
Voice and Unified Communication
To streamline your voice and unified communications, consider using cloud computing services. Cloud computing services allow you to handle all your business operations in the cloud, so there’s no need to work with cumbersome hardware, maintenance contracts, software upgrade and long-distance charges. Instead, you get a streamlined, centralized communications network. Options include public cloud systems, private cloud systems — which put your communications behind your firewall — and hybrid cloud systems.
Take the Necessary Steps to Prepare Your Enterprise
When you’re figuring out how to adapt business operations to the coronavirus or future business challenges, trust Consolidated Technologies, Inc. for managed IT solutions. We’re experienced in developing innovations that put us ahead of the technology curve, and we have the knowledge to help your company implement practical coronavirus business service adaptations. Whether in good times or bad, we’ll be here to provide continued, high-quality service, and to help your business succeed.