Coffee and laptop computer

How IT firms are making work-from-home possible

The idea of working from home has become increasingly popular with workers over the last decade, but the global lockdown in recent months has made it a reality for millions. Few companies were setup for their entire workforces working from home, but with the help of talented technology firms many have adapted well to the new reality and are looking at how to maintain a partially remote workforce in the future.

What is WFH?

WFH or “working from home” is a catch-all phrase that means someone is working outside the office. Many people will actually work from home, but others will work from co-working spaces, coffee shops, foreign cities, or we’ve even heard of cases where someone has logged in to work from a riverbank in Costa Rica before getting their kayak out for a paddle. If there is WiFi, 4G, or 5G for connectivity and you have brought your laptop, you can turn wherever you are into your work space and effectively being working from home.

How does WFH work?

Working from home is only possibly today thanks to the rapid technological changes that we have seen over the last couple of decades – with connectivity, the cloud, laptop computing power, and social apps all central to the process.

It has become easier than ever to get your business setup to allow employees to work from home, but many companies will still want to find a reliable IT firm to oversee their tech operations and make sure everything works smoothly and critically is kept secure. These IT firms have the knowledge to recommend the right tools for the job and the experience to tie together various otherwise disparate services together into a single unified system that can be used by even the most non-technical employees.

Central to any remote setup is the cloud. Most of us are already used to keeping our files stored in the cloud via Dropbox, Google Drive, Onedrive, and others, and our email services are also mostly cloud-based with the likes of GMail and Outlook.com. As such, it is not a big jump for companies to allow their employees to access business-related files and emails from wherever they are in the world.

Without an office space where employees can chat amongst each other to both socialise and discuss their work, a social chat service is also critical to any remote workforce. Slack is the big name in business-focused chat apps, but Google, Microsoft, and many other firms also offer similar tools which may come bundled with your other services and do the job just as effectively. The app you choose is important mostly for how well it plays with all your other systems, so research or outside knowledge resources are critical.

As with any system, security should always be a top concern. And with employees using various devices to connect from numerous locations, making sure all connections are encrypted to avoid prying eyes is critical for any business. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) remain the best way to keep traffic secure via tunnelling, but setting up a VPN for your business can be a complex task for even the most technically-minded amongst us, so choosing a reliable IT firm to help with setup is a must.

Overall, whilst any one of these tools may seem relatively simple, and they are getting easier to administer every day, tying them all together remains a complex job. And getting it right is such a critical task for the success of a modern business, that employing an IT firm or bringing such knowledge in-house should be a requirement for setting up a company today.

Why do employees want to work from home?

Some offices are fun environments with many perks, but the reality is that nobody likes commuting to and from work every day and that time could be much better spent. The flexibility to work from home also gives people the possibility to be more present for childcare, stay in for deliveries, or just enjoy a bit of peace and quiet while getting their work done without the hubbub of an office.

What’s in it for businesses

Happy workers are productive workers and if your employees are happier if they can work from home every now and again then that is something that should always be considered. However, it is not just employee satisfaction that is making companies consider offering their staff the possibility to work form home – they can also save huge sums on office space. A traditional office requires a desk and chair for every employee, but if you have half your workforce working from elsewhere all the time then you could halve the amount of office space you need and save thousands each month in rent.

Photograph by RawPixel