Laptop computers, mobile phones and other technologies mean that some businesses do not need a physical 'place of work' for their employees.
Even if you are not ready to do away with company premises altogether, remote working can still help your business become more efficient.
This briefing covers:
Remote working can include:
Your staff can work at times when it was previously impractical, such as on the train.
To some extent, you can allow your employees to work when and where they want.
With fewer staff onsite at any one time, you can manage with smaller premises.
Examples of what you can do with remote working include:
This allows you to securely access everything you can normally access in the office, like the latest stock information.
Even though you may be at home, the caller still rings your office number.
You do not need specialised hardware to implement remote working.
However, it is often worth it for the additional flexibility.
Mid-range machines can run typical office software with ease.
This can consist of hardware and/or software (see 4.4).
They are a very effective way to keep up with emails on the road.
Make sure you have a policy governing this (see 6).
Also called ADSL, it is adequate for most tasks and cost-effective.
These provide broadband-like speeds through a small device connected to a laptop.
For more complete access, consider a virtual private network (see 4.4).
Because of this, an expert should set it up and maintain it.
Your IT supplier or a consultant should be able to advise.
Security risks increase with remote working. The dangers are manageable, but it is important to take precautions.
This makes the data unreadable, even if intercepted. Microsoft Windows includes encryption, or you can download encryption software online.
For example, you can often set up systems so they require passwords to be a certain length and contain both numbers and letters.
For instance, many VPNs require something you have (a smartcard) and something you know (a password).
This can be disastrous if they contain confidential information.
Often the value of data on a laptop exceeds the value of the laptop itself.
For example, employees should not carry laptops in readily-identifiable laptop bags, or leave them visible in cars.
Try to keep spares in stock for immediate replacement.
You could run team meetings to get everyone together regularly.
However, this can lead to resentment and distrust.
Your company policies should lay out exactly when remote working is acceptable, and what everyone's obligations are.
If possible, avoid storing confidential information on portable devices.
Be clear that this is unacceptable, and have it written into your IT security policy.