Working from home is no longer a pipe-dream for employees. The reality is that businesses are now not only accepting but embracing that their employees may need to work from home long-term. In today’s world, with today’s technology, working from home should not be any different from working in the office. We’ve put together a list of the benefits, challenges, and the essentials your employees will need to upgrade their home office and make working from home long term a breeze.
The Benefits and Challenges of Working from Home
It’s easy to see why employees love it so much; no costly commuting time, more time spent at home with family, less stress, improved productivity, and greater flexibility. In fact, according to a survey, 75% of remote workers say they are more productive because of fewer distractions, while 74% said they faced fewer interruptions from co-workers.
Additionally, Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Working report reveals the wider benefits associated with remote working, including less stress from not having to commute and greater flexibility in their schedule.
However, working from home isn’t always easy and does have its own challenges, especially if doing so permanently. For instance, loneliness and unproductive habits can result in feeling lethargic and left out of office life. So it’s important to make sure employees are set up properly to work from home if you want them to perform their daily tasks to a high standard.
Essential Equipment Needed to Work from Home Long-Term
Your employee’s working space is where they will be spending a significant amount of their time. While some might have an office at home, others might be confined to the dining room table. Regardless, here are the essential items needed to make work more productive and healthy if there is a need to work from home long-term.
1. Keyboard and Mouse
Investing in a keyboard is essential for productivity. Nobody wants to be hunched over a small laptop screen, and a keyboard frees employees from that. Equally, a mouse means employees can operate more efficiently.
It can be frustrating when using, for instance, a laptop touchpad to try and do fiddly things such as drawing. The result is a more comfortable setup with a more office-based feel to it.
2. Desk and Chair
Setting up a desk and chair will help employees create mental associations with work and improve bad posture. A more ergonomic set up will help avoid back and neck pain, reducing the risk of long term injuries.
Seeing as your employees will spend a lot of time sitting in that place, it’s important to get this right. An ergonomic setup will also help employees focus better. Standing desks have also become more popular to improve health and productivity.
3. Super-Fast Computer
Obviously, working from home largely relies on technology. Nothing is more important than a good computer. It should be able to operate effectively regardless of the employee being on video calls, using compute-intensive programs or cloud applications.
4. Additional Extras
A laptop stand and a desktop screen/monitor are nice to have, but employees can try raising the positioning of their screen to eye level instead. Keeping the screen at eye level reduces neck and eye strain. A lamp is also a good addition for improved lighting, as well as positioning the setup to be near a window for fresh air and ventilation.
Essential Apps Needed to Work from Home Long-Term
There are plenty of tools readily available to make working from home easier, from video conferencing to collaboration. Here are some top tools your employees need to stay connected, communicate effectively, and work seamlessly.
5. Support and Resource Request App
It’s important for employees to still feel supported and have access to resources when they are not in the office. Using a digital form tool, such as JotForm, enables employees to quickly and easily submit requests.
6. Video Conferencing App
Communication is always better when you can see the other person. Video calls help employees feel more connected to fellow employees and build better relationships with external parties. Video conferencing means you can not only hear the person speaking, but see their facial expressions too.
There are many video conferencing tools available, from Zoom to Microsoft Teams. A lot of companies are now holding daily video catch-ups with their teams so everyone knows who’s doing what each day and employees don’t forget friendly faces.
7. Project Management Tool
When working from home, you want your employees to remain organized and keep on top of tasks. One of the biggest challenges with home working is making sure nothing slips through the cracks and assigned activities are really transparent across the whole team.
A project management tool such as Trello will do the job to keep everything moving forward. These tools can not only capture tasks, but time management, workflows, and urgency of specific tasks. It also helps hold employees accountable for when things need to be delivered.
8. Contract and Signature App
Digital document signing software, such as DocuSign, ensures your employees can still win new business and make decisions when not in the office. It’s a really simple tool that essentially allows the employee to sign and approve a document remotely.
9. Cloud Storage Tool
One of the main benefits of cloud storage is employees can access the data within from anywhere, on any device. It’s a life-saver for accessibility and collaboration. Shared folders mean employees can work on the same document at the same time, and see changes in real-time. They’ll also have access to the same information as if they were in the office.
Additionally, from a security point of view, cloud applications such as Google Drive enable information and data to be shared securely, so you don’t run the risk of employees leaking data anywhere and information is safely backed up.
10. Communication Apps
As mentioned earlier, loneliness is a key challenge for home workers. Communication tools ensure clear and concise team communication, as well as helps to promote team bonding.
A messaging app or chat service will ensure employees working remotely can communicate easily with their team in real-time, as if it was a normal conversation. To communicate effectively, employees need to have access to a proper headset for a good audio connection to avoid any distributions.
With the essentials your employees need, working from home permanently can be relatively simple. From the business’s perspective, companies can reduce their IT overheads and required office space, as well as have a happier workforce, and from the employee perspective, working from home empowers them to have greater flexibility, save money and reduce overall stress.
However, to reap these rewards, it’s important they are set up to work from home properly. Make sure your employees are fully set up and have the right technology to maximize its potential.