Work From Home Guide

Work From Home Guide

Setting Up Your Workspace

Work From Home Guide Part I: Setting up Your Workspace

For years, organizations have been using software offerings from providers like Microsoft to facilitate remote work. There are quite a few reasons for the rise in remote work – sickness, injuries, increasing traffic, or long-distance employees, to name a few. However, since the beginning of 2020, more and more organizations everywhere are having to mandate remote work for the foreseeable future – even when they have no existing guidelines or best practices to assist employees in working from home. One must adapt to keep the business up and running.

However, businesses must create these standards sooner rather than later. During the next few months, employees and upper level management will fully understand the utility of remote work. This will propel working from home into being a much more standard practice in modern societies around the globe.

When most of your workforce begins working from home for the first time, a small drop in productivity is to be expected. This cannot continue in the long term, however. Leadership must take control of their employee’s work from home practices and ensure they can telecommute as effectively as possible.

In part one of this guide, we will make sure your employees are choosing the right workspaces, while ensuring they have the tools and services required to work remotely. Let’s take a closer look at what your employees need to work from home.

Setting Up a Home Workspace

The environment that your employees work in is almost as important as the software they work with. Therefore, your first priority should be to find the correct space for a home office. Employees should work somewhere that is safe and secure – they should have access to comfortable furniture and proper lighting to avoid physically straining themselves. Then, they need to make sure the space has a limited amount of distraction and disruption. This means that if they have kids, pets, or a busy household, employees should work in a location that’s as tucked away as their space allows, avoiding the center of the home. Of course, in extreme circumstances we are all a bit more forgiving of these “suggestions.”

Once they find the right spot, they should establish this as their work base. If space permits, they should use that location solely for working, and store all physical documents and equipment in that area on an ongoing basis. This will help employees get into the right headspace the moment they sit down to work, and allow others in their home to stay aware of their designated workspace.

Next, employees need to ensure they have quality internet access in their workspace. If they have a weak internet connection from their home office, they may need to try moving closer to their router, removing obstacles between themselves and the router, or running a hardwired ethernet connection to their workspace. If their internet is still unreliable, you should advise they download a few necessary applications on their phone – this way, they can use cellular data in a pinch. Finally, recommended practice is to ask your employees to use a Unified Remote Access (DirectAccess in the Microsoft world), a VPN or a virtual desktop technology. These come at a cost, but they will protect your company’s secure documents and data in the event of a malicious attack. Since home internet connections and home devices aren’t secured as tightly as a corporate network, the threat of a data breach is very real.

Last, make sure your employees know the right position for their webcam. Nobody wants to be forced to look up their coworkers nose, or speak to their foreheads. Make sure your employees know that the top of their head should be in the top third of the camera’s frame. As well, ask them to blur their background or set a static image as their background to protect their privacy.

Using Office 365 to Enable Remote Work

Office 365 is one of the simplest ways to ensure a seamless transition from working in the office to working from home. Organizations with Office 365 licenses already have access to a large number of tools and resources to assist in remote work – but there are a couple of specific considerations that should be made when working from the home office.

First, it’s important to make sure employees can receive emails and open documents from their phone. Home internet can be unreliable – and if there is an outage, your employees will wish they were able to communicate or work via their mobile device. Make sure your organization is taking the following actions.

  • Set Up Outlook Mobile – Outlook Mobile will allow employees to access their email, calendar, contacts, and more from a mobile device. Simply download the app on the app store, and sign onto Office 365. This will help you communicate during an outage.
  • Download the Office Mobile App – This app will allow employees to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from one place using single sign-on. This will allow your employees to share and download documents over a mobile connection.
  • Enforce Policy Settings – BYOD is not without its security risks. IT managers should consider using the Office Cloud Policy Service to enforce policy settings on these new mobile devices. In addition to this, you can use Microsoft Endpoint manager to ensure all endpoints are secure before they are accessed by a mobile device.

Next, employees should be encouraged to access Office 365 through their desktop’s browser. This comes at no additional cost to the licenses you’ve already purchased. Working through an internet browser is faster and more secure than downloading and using an app on an unsecured device. Employees will have access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Outlook, and similar apps through their browser. Although there are some benefits to downloading Office 365 applications to your PC, we do not recommend doing this without the assistance of SoftwareONE and security experts.

Final Thoughts

Office 365 has always been a popular application in offices around the world – but with remote work surging, the time is now to make sure your organization has access to the full suite of capabilities within Office 365. As you may have heard recently Microsoft is offering a free 6-month Office 365 E1 trial. To complement this offer and help you understand how to best leverage Microsoft Teams, SoftwareONE has put together a special offering for our customers globally. Get started with using Teams today and experience the benefits of our Core Teams Enablement integrated into our 365Simple solution.

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Author

John De Los Reyes

John De Los Reyes

Practice Lead - Technology

John is a Unified Communications and Productivity expert. Currently, he serves as the Global Practice Lead - Future Workplace at SoftwareONE. In this role, he helps companies find a flexible approach to address their unique challenges when merging their technology strategy with their commercial and compliance needs.

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