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Home office: Working successfully at home



SUMMARY


Introducing home office is a real challenge for both employees and employers. However, it has never been easier to let employees work from home than it is at the moment. Those who want to implement the home office now can do so quickly and in an organised manner.



CONTENT


  • What are the advantages of a home office?

  • What should you pay attention to?

  • Introducing home office and data in the cloud

  • Hard disk encryption on company devices

  • Data protection is of central importance when introducing a home office

  • Access the company network via VPN

  • Using an intranet

  • Communication & meetings

  • Project management and milestones

  • Motivation of employees



What are the advantages of home office?


Home office is becoming more and more popular among employees. There is no need to travel to the office, you can cook fresh meals during your lunch break and it is much easier to reconcile work and family life. The peace and quiet of one's own home also allows many people to work more freely and productively.


In principle, it is also advantageous for the employer to introduce a home office: Many employees are more productive because they are less distracted, can concentrate better and are also sick less often. Home office arrangements can have a very strong impact on a company. Employees in a home office are generally more satisfied and loyal.



What should one pay attention to?


If you want to introduce home office, you have to consider the technical and personal aspects involved in this change of workplace. Technical requirements can certainly be met in a very short time and can also be maintained with little personal effort. The personal component, on the other hand, requires constant attention. Just as in the office itself, one should seek open discussion with the employees and also motivate them accordingly.


Supervisors and bosses should take care not to succumb to control mania. The biggest disadvantage of home office employees for the company is that there is no exact check on whether and for how long the employee is really engaged in the task assigned to him or her. However, there are various tools that can be used to better record the activities of employees. This is not only useful to see how productively employees work in the home office, but also to better estimate the amount of work. If you know exactly how long the tasks take in detail, you can write more accurate quotations or issue invoices accordingly. In turn, the employee can protect himself in this way from working too much in the home office - which can happen more quickly than some people think due to the spatial proximity of work and privacy.



Introduce home office and data in the cloud


In the home office, one is just as dependent on the data that is important for work - especially documents of all kinds - as in the actual office. An efficient way to store, share and back up data is cloud storage. In the cloud, all employees can access stored data and share it with colleagues - directly via the internet. In addition, automatic synchronisation of data with a cloud backup can be set to counteract the loss of business-relevant documents in advance.



Hard disk encryption on company devices


Even if employees are given the opportunity to work in a home office, only company-owned devices should be used. Private computers are often too vulnerable to malware and thus not safe from data theft.


Anyone who introduces a home office and generally has to deal with a lot of sensitive company data should prevent the loss of data by ensuring a high level of security. The most important point here is the best possible hard disk encryption, which also exempts you from reporting to the data protection authority in the event of theft.



Data protection is of central importance when introducing home offices


As soon as employees start working in a home office, intensive training on data protection must take place. This should include helping employees to secure their private network. In particular, recommending procedures or tools that generate a secure password should be on the agenda.


In addition, employees must be told that company data must not be stored on external storage media such as USB sticks or hard drives. In return, a secure solution for storing, sending and backing up data should be specified by the company and set up accordingly.


Topics such as phishing and pharming should also be addressed: The general uncertainty in dealing with suspicious emails and pages can lead to careless handling of information on the internet. A hint to pay attention to SSL certificates of websites can also prove valuable for employees.



Access to the company network via VPN


Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is indispensable for home office work in many companies. Virtual networks can be accessed from any location, but you need the appropriate permissions to do so. The internet serves as an extension for employees in the home office to access the company's internal VPN network. This ensures that only authorised employees or business partners have access to files or information on the intranet or company server.



Using an intranet


For companies, using an intranet is generally a good idea. It can be used to make files available to employees in archives and also to create your own wiki pages about processes and methods. Organisation and communication always come first with an intranet, which makes the internal network an almost indispensable tool for home office work.



Communication & Meetings


Thanks to appropriately selected collaboration tools, meetings can also be held easily in the home office and communication channels simplified. With tools like Slack, Google Hangouts or WebEx, you can easily set up virtual meetings and hold video conferences or presentations in good quality. Most software solutions can be installed cross-platform on laptops, tablets and smartphones. In addition, you can also make classic phone calls. With software, it is possible to use the telephone connection on the computer as well and to receive and make calls via one's normal number.



Project management and milestones


If you need constant project updates and milestones, you don't have to ask for regular reports. With project management tools, every employee can enter new updates on projects themselves, even if they have a home office, and contribute to the smooth running of the company from home. In the meantime, there are many offers for small and also large companies, with various functions - some of them even completely free of charge.



Motivating employees


What is particularly important when introducing the home office is the motivation of the employees. Not everyone wants to work in a home office, and not everyone can. However, as a supervisor or manager, you can resort to certain methods to boost morale and productivity.


Provide affirmation

If you don't see each other regularly, it is difficult to know if your work is being done correctly. Regular feedback sessions are very important for home office workers. Regular exchanges help to set goals and track where projects and employees are at.


Meetings & feedback

Many companies use stand-up meetings in the morning to give or receive a brief overview of milestones and projects. This is a way for all staff and managers to communicate to each other that work is continuing even if they are not in the same place.


Weekly conference calls should be used to give general feedback to the team, for example, to inform them about what has been achieved during the week. In addition, these calls can be used to share personal experiences from the home office. In this way, employees can give each other tips and motivate each other. This strengthens the team spirit even across distances.


Arrange core working hours and breaks in advance

If you set down core working hours and breaks in rules in advance, you can also provide employees with a corresponding structure in the home office. It may seem insignificant at first glance, but it has a very high psychological significance for employees. A structured time frame makes it easier to plan the day even at home.


Set up the workplace

Before introducing the home office, workers should check that they have all the appropriate materials. An ergonomic chair and good technical equipment are not only important for getting the job done but also have great psychological value. A separate, lockable room with a desk and office chair is optimal. If you as a supervisor look at the home office set-up, you can quickly assess whether further equipment is necessary.


Enable communication among colleagues

Communication between colleagues is important for morale and a functioning team spirit. In the home office, the small conversation at the coffee machine is eliminated and many quickly feel isolated. As a supervisor, it is important to establish and encourage communication among colleagues through chat programmes. By having short conversations and exchanging ideas with each other, employees feel more comfortable in the home office and ultimately work more productively.


Use to-do lists

Those working in a home office for the first time may feel lost at first. Then it is especially important to structure tasks. To-do lists help enormously to establish normal structures and processes in the home office as well.

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