The working from home revolution

Like so many of us during winter, I came down with a sickness last weekend.

It actually hit during the night of the federal budget, although I was able to convince my body to delay feeling ill for a few days. But eventually, it won.

In the past, when I’ve been sick at home, it’s resulted in some confusion over email. I receive a lot of correspondence – over 150 email messages a day – and not responding to a message marked ‘urgent’, or a specific question, can seem rude. It’s hard to deliver cogent emails when I’m trying to sleep away a bug.

However, because I’m able to access my Outlook system over the internet, I was able to login to our system and set an away message, letting everyone know I would be sick that day. I still checked my messages later that afternoon, but not having to send apology emails for every missed message was a big time saver.

Of course, being able to set away messages while not at my desk isn’t anything new. But it’s a feature many companies still don’t exploit.

This isn’t just about a sick day, either. For people who work from home, having access to their email systems or internal work servers is paramount to doing a good job. Companies which allow staff to spend some time working from home make sure to have this system set up and ready to work.

And so should you.

Now, for a lot of companies this doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do. But if you speak to your IT manager you’ll find it’s a lot simpler than you’d think. Giving yourself access to work hard drives and files from home doesn’t require any great piece of technology – just a little bit of time setting up the whole system.

After all, flexibility is in your best interest, isn’t it?

Imagine this scenario. A staff member needs to stay home one day because he or she is expecting an electrician to arrive early in the afternoon, and they have to be there to let them in and pay them.

Now, on the one hand, they could take a day off. That’d be totally fine. But you’d lose a day of productivity, and they’d lose a day of annual leave for a task they probably don’t want to lose a day of annual leave for.

Alternatively, if you have a system set up whereby the staff member can login, check their email and access everything they need to do a good job, then you haven’t lost any productivity at all. In fact, you may have increased it – they haven’t spent time getting to the office.

For a lot of businesses, this is old news. But there are plenty of SMEs which haven’t investigated this type of system yet. Imagine a call centre where this could happen – staff don’t have to take a day off anymore, they can just login from home using some equipment set up from the office.

You don’t need to let everyone work from home all the time. But allowing the possibility means your business could be more productive than it is now.

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