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We have all become increasingly aware of the importance, necessity and flexibility of working from home in recent months – something many businesses are now looking at as the new normal. But to do this successfully in the long term we must learn how to make better use of the available technology.
Many businesses and employees were thrown into the situation of having home working forced upon them when the country went into lockdown, circumstances which meant trying to ensure jobs could be carried out efficiently with equipment which in many cases was simply not up to the task.
A learning curve
Much was learnt about working during unprecedented times which will hopefully stand businesses in good stead when it comes to furthering home working plans in the future. But there are issues to overcome, including:
Cost of providing equipment
Access to relevant technology
As we become increasingly better and more widely connected, businesses must take advantage of the available technology like computers, VPN connections, tablets, headsets etc and make it work in their favour. There are still issues with connectivity but it will improve – making future home working decisions easier to make.
The cost of providing adequate home working equipment for employees may prove to be prohibitive for some but this cost must be weighed against savings which can be made by staff working from home.
One of the top priorities for firms moving to home working has to be security and we can’t stress enough the importance of ensuring sensitive business information and data is kept safe.
Thinking about the future
Communication and information technology has become more advanced and affordable over time – which adds further strength to the argument for home working, but there will still be cases, certain industry sectors, where the nature of the job means it is simply not possible for employees to work from home.
A recent survey showed access to technology varies across the wide range of industries. It found, for example, that only around 13% of employees in the retail industry had been provided with a portable device, like a laptop or smartphone for working from home while that figure rose to 60% for those working in the information and communication industry.
It also reports that internet use has increased to a figure close to 100% for nearly everyone under the age of 50. The main location for use is, understandably, still the home but work, library and mobile use have all risen significantly.
There has been a major swing towards home working, accelerated by the Covid-19 lockdown, which has proved that employees can operate successfully away from the work environment.
The means are there to do it efficiently but we must ensure it is done safely and securely and that we embrace a willingness to make better use of the ever-improving technology.