The Work-From-Home Revolution: We implemented remote working to support our staff in achieving a good work-life balance, but the benefits just keep on coming (4-minute read).

For many years, our workforce has comprised a blend of office, field and home-based employees who come together as a team in support of our customers and business processes. Many of the office-based roles were already suitable for remote working and we were confident, from experience, that the geographical distance between our staff wouldn’t be an issue. As a technology company, we knew it was important to wholeheartedly embrace the technology that we sell on a daily basis and facilitate remote working for all employees.

We have made significant investments in our business infrastructure over the last year to ensure we could operate all our systems and processes remotely without impacting service levels. We initially did this to enable a flexible working culture for our staff but we could never have predicted the how important or timely those changes could have been for us as a business. 

The Technology

There are a multitude of configurations for enabling remote working in a workplace; we knew the importance of implementing tools that would work for the individual needs of each member of staff and the area of our business they contribute to.

For us, we decided that all employees must:

  • Have use of a device (PC/Mac/Laptop) that has been configured by our Technical Team to gain access to our network.
  • Be able to connect to broadband that meets the required minimum standards to support the usage they are required to achieve;
    • Remote access only: minimum 2mb up/down.
    • Remote access and phone: minimum 3mb up/down.
  • Download the mobile app or softphone to their PC/Mac/Laptop and/or mobile device which enables the user to:
    • Make calls from anywhere via a mobile device or laptop.
    • Present the business number.
    • Record all calls.
    • Partake in conference and video calling.

Employees with mobile devices issued by the company are enrolled onto our Mobile Device Management system meaning we can:

  • Remotely install or remove apps.
  • Keep security and other patches up to date.
  • Control which apps can access business data.
  • Share data between devices.
  • Control the sharing of information.
  • Lock or wipe lost or stolen devices.
  • Track device/app usage.
  • Identify abnormal or suspicious usage.

The Practicalities

Our team have grown together over the years and we have an active social culture in the office which stretches to those who work remotely or in the field. It was important that we maintain this whilst giving the option for all staff to work elsewhere. We’ve implemented a teamwork hub that fuses group chat software with collaboration tools – this allows our staff to interact in small groups and more broadly so as to maintain the communication and relationships formed.

We ask that the team follow all aspects of the company’s Working From Home Policy as set out in our staff handbook. Key points include the following where our remote workers must:

  • Set up their equipment and designated work area according to the DSE guidelines.
  • Work without background noise.
  • Meet the same high standards and performance KPIs expected of them as if they were in the office.
  • Work their contracted hours for the week and log their time in our HR portal where appropriate.
  • Ensure that their team are all aware they are working remotely and that this will not negatively impact their work, their team or the company.
  • Comply with the company’s data protection rules and policies at all times.
  • Have a 1-to-1 meeting each month to ensure that they are managing their workload and taking responsibility for the duties assigned to them.

The Benefits

The initial benefits we sought were for our employees without impacting business or our customers, but we’ve seen positives in ways we hadn’t expected.

The staff are able to:

  • Work flexibly and adjust their hours, including evenings and weekends, to ensure all work is completed.
  • Maintain a better work/life balance.
  • Experience time and cost savings by removing their commute to work.
  • Improve productivity and concentrate on projects without the distractions that occur in the office.
  • Be more autonomous and take more responsibility for their role and outcomes.

The business has benefitted from:

  • Multiple layers of disaster recovery, for example:
    • If the premises are inaccessible, users can work from elsewhere.
    • If the telephones are unusable, users can revert to using company mobile devices or their mobile app/softphones.
    • If the mobile networks are congested, users can still make calls via data on 4G or Wi Fi.
  • Access to a wider pool of new applicants meaning we can take on new starters with the required skills who are not necessarily local to the offices.
  • A reduction in building operating and maintenance costs e.g. utilities, consumable supplies etc.
  • Staffing level adjustments without needing to change premises.
  • Fewer days taken as sick leave – staff work from home when they feel capable without sharing germs around their team.

Most importantly, our customers are benefitting from uninterrupted access to sales and service, regardless of the location of our staff.

Our Current Situation: COVID-19

As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the virus and the government has given clear guidance on self-isolation and strict social distancing. We have been identified as a critical sector in the COVID-19 response so it is important that we follow the government’s advice but maintain working at pace and conducting business as normally as possible.

We made the difficult but necessary decision to shut our offices from close of play Friday 20th March and have implemented our remote working model in full. We’re still fully operational with all staff logged in to work as if they were at their desks – ultimately, we are in a state of ‘business as usual’. We are still here to help and will be able to provide our customers with seamless service, just without sharing the same space – if we hadn’t told you, you wouldn’t have known!

Your Current Situation

If your organisation has been instructed to close, or if your looking to enable your staff to work remotely and socially distance themselves, we can help.

For our customers, our team are available to advise with reference to your site – please reach out to your Account Manager on 0800 048 4666 or by emailing info@premierchoicegroup.com.

To enquire about our remote working solutions, please contact our Sales Team on 0800 048 4666, by emailing info@premierchoicegroup.com or by completing our contact form. Please do not be put off by the fact that you may be in contract with another supplier as we can still work with you if you wish to make improvements.

Further information

For the latest information and advice regarding Coronavirus, please refer to www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public.