How technology can facilitate working from home
You'll need to keep in touch with employees who work at home. At the very least, you should consider installing a dedicated work phone at the employee's home or provide them with a mobile phone.
This makes it easier to work out billing arrangements and, as you won't need to see the employee's phone bill, preserves their privacy.
Broadband internet connections have made emailing colleagues and business contacts and sharing documents quick and easy.
With virtual teamworking your employees do not need to be working in the same place, or even at the same time, in order to work together. Consider the following options:
- Different time, different place - employees work separately and keep in touch with you and each other via email.
- Same time, different place - employees can communicate with each other in 'real time' through telephone conference calling, video-conferencing or using instant messaging.
- Different time, same place - employees can access your business network or databases by connecting to an intranet or extranet. A virtual private network is a more secure, but expensive, way of doing this.
- Same time, same place - even working from home, your employees will still need to meet face-to-face occasionally. Email and electronic diaries allow you to arrange meetings and transfer documents, while wireless technology allows you to meet anywhere.
- Any time, any place - mobile phones and laptop computers with wireless internet access mean that your employees are always accessible and can work wherever they are. Read more on mobile technology.
There are important security issues. For example, data security could be compromised if employees working from home use their work computer for personal purposes. It's best to provide staff with a computer and make it clear that it's for business use only.
Install anti-virus and firewall software on users' PCs and use passwords to control access to their computers and to your network. Make sure home workers have read and understood your IT policies and know their information security responsibilities.
Employees who deal with sensitive information should be particularly careful about:
- Keeping equipment at home - they should make sure that their premises are properly secured.
- Transporting equipment from one place to another - items should never be left unattended in a public place.
- Using public internet access - public computers can store information that has been entered.
- Working in a public place such as a train - information on a laptop screen could be seen by others.
- Destroying data that is no longer required - eg a cross-cut shredder should be used to dispose of sensitive papers.
Read NCSC's guidance on home working: preparing your organisation and staff.