It's a familiar story in the UK - the threat of snow and we batten down the hatches ready for #snowmageddon (I'm told that's what the kids are calling it on Twitter).
On the other side of the Atlantic, the threat of a ‘life threatening’ blizzard caused the mayor of New York to issue a state wide curfew. Those who worked in the city were told to work from home.
Involuntary or not, this shows how far communications technologies have come in the last decade or so. Imagine having that option in the 90s. Well, we didn't.
There was no way anyone on a dial up connection (if they had one) could work productively from home. Voice communication was really expensive (not to mention heavy duty - remember the bricks our mobile phones were?). Even then, we were protective of our home phone line.
Now with superfast broadband (it exists, honestly) and the improvements in voice technology, working from home when snowed in is a real possibility. Even better, your customers don't even need to know you’re anywhere different than the office (providing the dog doesn't bark at the postman)
As you can imagine, this week has been a week where those questions have been asked in the majority of my meetings. The common question has been, what do I need to be able to allow my employees to work effectively from home?
Well in short, it’s what most businesses should have in place anyhow, whether their employees are in the office or not: it's all about having a robust communications infrastructure.
In any case, here’s what I would recommend to allow your staff to work productively from home:
- Strong and secure internet access with adequate bandwidth. A leased line, business class connection is ideal
- An IP based phone system (like those from Mitel)
- Remote access configured
- Suitable equipment for staff working from home
- Enough coffee to sink a battle ship (ok not essential, but my own personal preference)
The snow storms in 2009 saw the UK grind to a halt. Some economists wrote that the cost of those storms was £1.2bn across the UK. All down to the country downing tools because they couldn't get to the office.
More worryingly, the article in the guardian from 2009 spoke of the snow being the reason some SMBs were closing. (http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/feb/03/cold-weather-retail-industry). That’s a lot of money to enjoy building a snowman.
Well, let's bring the office to them.
In this connected age, there is no excuse for a snow day (sorry lovers of snowball fights). We have the mechanisms and capabilities to operate as if we were in the office, in the comfort of our slippers in front of the fireplace, watching the kids play in the snow.
But importantly, keeping the wheels of business in motion even if the world as we know it is freezing outside. If done right, it opens up doors of opportunity for flexible working (see my previous post) and ensures loss of productivity due to nature is a thing of the past.
If you have any questions about my top tips for working from home or want to know more about how you can achieve them, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.