Working from home is becoming more and more popular in the UK, with more than 2 million people choosing to work this way and rising. As this week sees the snow set in, the benefits of offering workers the option to work from home becomes clearer. Technology has come a long way since the days when connecting to a VPN to access work files was the only available option many firms had. Now, in the days of superfast broadband and BYOD, telecommuting is easier and more secure than ever, depending on the set-up used by a company.
Many people use cloud services to enable working from home as they represent an easy, cost-effective way to allow this. From file-sharing to hosted virtual desktops, it’s now easier and more efficient than ever before.
With a hosted desktop, workers can access their work wherever they are, so long as they have an internet connection. As the name suggests, this doesn’t just allow access to files, but an employee’s entire set-up, complete with network permissions and personalisation such as desktop backgrounds.
This means that when an employee might have difficulty getting to work, such as when snow makes travelling treacherous, then they still have the option of working from home. This is beneficial to both the company, who can continue productivity whatever the weather, and the employee, who won’t have to dig into holiday time or lose pay.
How to implement teleworking
It’s recommended that any firm wanting to utilise teleworking should first consider a number of factors, the first of which being the company policy. It can then be introduced at a contractual level where the bosses and workers agree on terms and how much time should be spent at home versus the office.
Obviously, in a situation where teleworking is necessary as an emergency measure, such as when the weather is considered too bad for safe travelling, it may have to be agreed in a hurry. In this scenario, executives should discuss options with workers who are having trouble.
Ideally, the worker should already have been trained in how to connect to the office and go about their duties as if they were on the premises. When implementing a virtual hosted desktop then, this should be considered in the first instance.
Training is seen to be one of the major factors which make teleworking fail in the first instance so it’s vital that staff are properly trained. Further barriers to growth in telecommuting are:
- An organisations’ “conservative nature”
- Costs to the company
- Employee “isolation” and space in the home
- Domestic property regulations
- Health and Safety
Firstly, many companies are loath to take on new technologies, as they worry that it will disrupt the office too much and not be a very secure solution. However utilising SaaS services really should overcome these issues, as the cost-saving and flexible benefits far exceed any worries that a company should have.
Of course, many people enjoy the banter of the office and don’t enjoy working from home as they find it hard to settle. However, in these days of social networking, stable and reliable VoIP and instant chat mechanisms, this is something that can be easily addressed.
Health and Safety and taxation will depend on whether the worker is considered to be self-employed as they work alone. For the most part, many will remain employed and so bosses should consider the following when implementing a policy:
- Working hours – these can be more flexible but should still fall within the law
- Expenses – these should include the additional household costs incurred by a worker due to business
- Health and safety laws mean that employers should have access to the home in order to assess equipment, power supplies and the use of ergonomic equipment
- Employer’s insurance may have to cover work equipment used in the home
- Provisions – should a worker rely on their internet connection then it needs to be agreed on the maintenance and cost of a connection, if and what percentage the company should be paying, as well as how the employee backs up company data
It’s easy to see how a hosted desktop solution can help here; backing up and connecting to the office is a simple matter and support is often available 24/7, depending on the supplier. Furthermore, it’s simple to set up permissions and security with little trouble, so that the worker simply has to connect and go.
Add to this that everything is backed up as the employee works, and the connection is encrypted to avoid hacking, then hosted virtual desktops represent an ideal solution to security concerns.
Teleworking is the future and whilst of course it’s necessary for certain scenarios, such as bad weather, the government is pushing to increase telecommuting in order to bolster the economy.
Bearing this in mind, companies should also look at what benefits are available when offering flexible working to their employees These are plentiful when using a solution to enable teleworking, such as virtual hosted desktop solutions.
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