In the past six months, millions of people have had to transition from office life to working from home full time. And while it does have it’s benefits, from cutting out the commute and missing rush hour traffic to more flexible hours and fewer distractions, there are a number of problems that remote workers are facing.
In this post, we take a look at some of the major technological issues of working from home and how to overcome them.
Less reliable internet
One of the biggest technological issues with working from home that most people will have experienced is that the internet is less reliable. Offices and workplaces often have high speed, robust internet connections as part of a business package from internet providers, with IT support on hand when there are issues.
Most households will have gone for broadband packages with lower specifications and are locked into a contract for a set period of time. And the Wi-Fi coverage in some homes is likely to be patchy, with routers not necessarily installed in the right place to set up a home office.
As well as upgrading your internet package at home, it’s also possible to buy a range of Wi-Fi extenders that will ensure you can get a good signal in all areas of your home. The most affordable options are a Wi-Fi repeater that works by boosting the signal from your router by copying and rebroadcasting it or a powerline adapter that plugs into a power socket so that the Wi-Fi signal is transferred through the electric wires.
When you’re logging into your work from outside the office there are a number of security issues that can cause concern. In a normal workplace, you’d have high levels of security and data would be encrypted. But when you’re working from home you’re likely to be accessing important files and documents using a less secure connection.
One of the best ways to tackle this issue is to use a VPN (a virtual private network), which ensures that everything you do online is private. There are a number of free VPNs to choose from, but the main benefits include hiding your IP address, and making it more secure if you’re using open public Wi-Fi networks. If you are travelling and don’t want to risk regularly exposure on public WiFi you can also take your own mobile WiFi router.
You should also ensure that you have suitable antivirus software installed on your computer. Again, there are lots of free antivirus software options that provide effective protection against malware and viruses.
Other precautions for security should include using strong passwords and two-factor authentication where possible and storing files, equipment, and devices securely. It’s also important to keep up to date with regular security training that covers how to handle sensitive data and documents, awareness of scams and online threats, and what to do in case of a security breach.
It’s harder to communicate and collaborate
Another big technological issue of working from home is how to effectively communicate and collaborate as a team when you’re all in separate places.
It’s harder to know what everyone’s up to and it’s not possible to have a quick five minute conversation about changes to a piece of work. Sending endless emails back and forth with minor adjustments to a single word document just isn’t as efficient.
However, there are some communication and collaboration tools that can help navigate these technological issues. For example, using an instant messaging platform provides a place for conversations that don’t require a phone or video call but need a quicker or less formal response than an email. Plus, it’s easy to organize conversations and search through previous messages to find important ideas or actions.
Project management tools are also key to successful collaboration between remote workers. It ensures that everyone is clear about what they need to do and when giving a clear overview of projects and upcoming deadlines. Sharing briefs verbally or via email can be confusing, but project management software keeps a clear record of what’s been done and what still needs to be completed.
Setting up these tools won’t just help overcome these technological challenges, it is also an important part of future-proofing a business and ensuring that it’s more flexible and adaptable.
Sharing and storing documents
Document storage is another major technological issue that working from home has created. Many offices will keep all their files on an internal network and server, but accessing these systems remotely from home is often slow and unreliable. It can also lead to confusion when multiple people are accessing the same document at the same time, making changes, and creating conflicting versions.
One of the best ways to overcome this issue is to set up a cloud storage system. This means that files can be safely stored online, where they can be accessed by anyone in the company from anywhere.
It makes it straightforward to create, share, and collaborate with others working remotely. Multiple people can access the document at the same time and see who else is using and editing it, and a clear history of revisions will give a good oversight of changes that are made.
These are the major technological issues that most people will face when working from home. But adopting new tools and adapting your processes will help you to navigate these issues and increase your productivity, even when you start to return to the office.