Issue No. 115March 2022
Considerations for 100% Remote Work Model Transition
Continuing our series from last month, this time we’d like to explore what you’d need to relay to your IT department if you’re planning on closing your office permanently and transitioning to a 100% remote work model. These same considerations would apply if you were to transition to a hybrid model as well, but for the purposes of this article, we will assume a 100% remote work transition.
Now that you’ve decided you no longer need an office space, there are a good number of items to consider. First, think of how your team conducts their work. Do they need a connection to infrastructure that you host on the premises? If so, is there a plan to migrate that data elsewhere? If not, where will the machine hosting the information reside if it can no longer be in the office? Now that you’ve addressed those concerns, think about how to facilitate your users’ connectivity to that infrastructure.
If you’re already familiar with the SaaS (Software as a Service) model that question might answer itself and the ones we posed up above. If not, Software as a Service is huge in the remote work space, as it enables employees to interact with mission critical line of business software that is hosted elsewhere and (generally) accessed via a web-browser. Converting an on-premises solution to a SaaS based one will certainly go a long way towards facilitating a fully-remote workforce, but it is not a task to be undertaken lightly. Many manufacturers have their own hosted SaaS companions to on-premises products, but others do not—especially older software. It is important that you work with your IT provider to take stock of the critical line-of-business applications in your business and come up with a plan to facilitate access to them before moving away from an in-office model to one that is fully remote. Once you’ve sorted the access to software you and your team need, next you’ll need to address how they’ll communicate.
This is an area that many more company’s became well-versed in due to the pandemic, but is still worth exploring in a bit of detail. If you’re seriously considering transitioning to a fully-remote team, you’ve spent a lot of time considering how your team communicates in the office, and how you’ll replace that setting. It is also imperative that you consider how your team communicates externally, and how people outside of your organization can reach out to them. For instance, many (especially older) phone systems are dependent on a local appliance (sometimes called a PBX). If your team no longer has connectivity to that PBX, their phone system will stop working. There are a variety of cloud-hosted VoIP offerings that will fit the bill for voice calls, but a phone system transition is also not a quick process, and is one that you’d typically want kicked off and transitioned well in advance of your office closure. Another important aspect of communication is face-to-face time—communications technology has come leaps and bounds, even in the very recent past, and can be used to replace most of this interaction. Typically this would be done with video call sessions, whether those take place in Teams, Zoom, Meet, etc. This type of interaction is useful not only for communicating with clients, but for facilitating communication internal to your team that is critical to maintaining cohesion after you’ve left an office environment.
So that’s critical software and communications sorted, what’s left? More than likely this is the aspect of remote work that you have the least control over—what your employee’s home office setup looks like. It is important to make decisions about how employees will conduct company business. Are they to use their own equipment? If not, will you be issuing equipment to them? Repurposing office equipment? How do you handle that equipment breaking down, or eventually needing replacement? If you’re allowing your team to use their own devices (BYOD, Bring Your Own Device), how do you ensure the security of corporate assets? These are all critical questions that must not only be answered prior to making the jump to remote work, they should be well into deployed before the office is closed for good.
As you can see, there are a number of considerations that go into the transition to a remote workforce, and these are only questions for your IT department. This is to say nothing of the intricacies involved in a change of this type for your other departments. If you or your company are considering a transition away from your office environment and to a full-remote workforce, be sure to consult your IT provider on how best that can be facilitated—they will help ensure that the process is done as efficiently and seamlessly as possible.