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Are you prepared for a remote working future?

None of us can know for certain what’s in store for our businesses, but with a fluid global situation surrounding us, is now the time to permanently build more agility into your working practices?

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While the future may not be set in stone, what we do know is that the necessity for digitisation has rapidly increased. This means that having the right technology and the right infrastructure will be key to survival in an environment that looks like it’s going to be fluctuating for some time. Now is the moment to start getting your business up-to-speed and empower your teams by investing in technology and systems that sufficiently enable a more flexible way of working.

But how ready for remote working was your business before these unexpected global shifts? And are you prepared to change your setup to something more suited to this longer-term “new normal”? In the UK alone, less than 50% of office workers have confidence in their company’s current infrastructure for supporting secure and productive remote working1. And it’s hardly surprising when you think that every organisation is at a different level of maturity when it comes to digital transformation. The business landscape as we know it features a wide variety of hybrid, modern working environments, using a mixture of paper and digital practices.

So, while many firms might not have been ready, the ongoing situation is going to force a lot of people’s hands. But that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated or expensive. With the opportunity to truly benefit from a more regular remote workforce going forward, where should you begin?

1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/charlestowersclark/2020/03/27/will-remote-work-become-the-new-normal/#1918a2eccd1c

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Considerations for enabling longer-term remote working

If you’re looking to successfully activate remote working for the longer term, your organisation is going to need an ecosystem that facilitates a digitally-led approach. To achieve that, there are four important areas you should be considering:

1) Technology – arguably the most important area of consideration, your technology choices are going to be the make or break point of your remote working setup. The infrastructure, the physical devices and the digital tools you choose for your workforce all need to be designed with flexibility in mind.

And that doesn’t just mean switching from restrictive desktop devices to a fleet of laptops. Imagine you work in the legal professional or in education, the very nature of your day-to-day work means that having access to an enterprise-quality print and scan device could become as important a requirement as having a laptop – whether that’s in the home or in a coworking space.

Really think about what simple fixes can support your team in getting the job done and get comfortable with cloud-based services. The more user friendly you can make your remote workforce tools, the more responsive your team will be and the less likely you’ll be to face the costly pitfalls of your employees merging their work technology with consumer-focused solutions.

And don’t forget maintenance and servicing. Strong connections back into your IT department are a must for ensuring appropriate updates and patches are applied at the right times.

2) Collaboration tools – working hand-in-hand with your chosen infrastructure and devices are the tools you choose to process your business critical information. No matter how collaboration-ready you were before the current climate, one thing we can be certain of is that having a robust information management solution will become an essential feature in any successful remote working framework.

This is where cloud solutions can really benefit your business. You need to take the time now to review the system you currently have in place - especially if it was a case of using whatever you could get your hands on in an emergency – and look for a solution that will meet all your workflow and security needs for handling your business information.

You’re also going to need to instigate training programmes to help future-proof your team. The sooner you get them on board, the sooner you can see the full value of your investment.

3) Bridging the gap between paper and digital – while it’s easy to talk about slotting in a cloud solution to activate a remote working team, what if you’re still in the early days of your digital transformation and rely heavily on paper processes? Have you been struggling under lockdown conditions, unable to access files and start digital workflows?

Every business is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all here, but you need to start by looking at a strategy to get you from where you are now to where you want to be and assigning an appropriate timescale. The key is not to panic and feel pressured for time. The reality is that you’ll need to balance legacy infrastructure and the blend of paper and digital processes you already have, so focus on this being a smooth integration, not a rip and replace job.

4) Delivery – if we consider that information is the heartbeat of every business, then the ability to efficiently harness its flow across input, transfer and access is a clear reflection of what a successful organisation looks like. In a time where continuity is key, you can see why combining the right technology, collaboration tools and productive management of document processes is so critical for your business.

Give your employees a robust, user-friendly setup and the gains in productivity and impact on the bottom line are simply unrivalled.

Working remotely as a competitive advantage

Recent weeks have seen businesses like Twitter announce to staff that they will now have even more flexibility with the option to work from home permanently2 and it’s likely that more will follow suit as global uncertainty continues. With so many unknowns before us, we could be about to see an even bigger shift in the remote working movement. And you’ve got to ask yourself – is your business ready for it?

It’s time to escalate your digital transformation, consider your remote working strategy and invest in training and support for your workforce in order to protect your business now and throughout an undetermined future.

2 https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/alexkantrowitz/twitter-will-allow-employees-to-work-at-home-forever

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