Creating a great office life at home and on the road…

Home Office Aura

One of the many challenges businesses face today is creating that great office buzz, camaraderie and company ethos. With the typical Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job becoming obsolete for many businesses and the continued growth of home working or flexible working hours, this is much more of a challenge than ever before. Microsoft says 37% of the global workforce is now mobile and 41% of employees spend more time away from their desks than two years ago. People managers need to find new ways to get staff to embrace the company vision and build good working relationships with their colleagues.

How do you do it?

Embrace technology – There are some great products on the market now that really lend themselves to collaborative working.  Applications like Microsoft Teams or Slack give you the opportunity to create your own “business Facebook” with video, voice and chat functionality for everyone to use and stay in touch. You can separate out “feeds” for customers and general business chit-chat.

Ask staff to share snaps of what they have been up to, create a birthday or events calendar for staff to use, create an ideas board, perhaps even have themed days that remote workers can get involved with.

Stop staff apologising for colleagues working from home – Too many times I hear people say “sorry, but they are working from home today, I’ll see if they are available.”

For some, there still appears to be a stigma attached that ‘working from home’ means you are not working as hard as you would in the office.  This is not the case, and in fact, I often find I can get more done from home with fewer distractions than when I am in the office.

Encourage your staff to speak as if their remote colleagues were in the office, a simple “let me just see if they are available” will suffice or “they are on the phone currently, let me get them to call you back.”

Give your staff something from the office to have at their home office.  A company branded mug, mouse mat, calendar or desktop wallpaper displaying company values will help make them feel more included when based remotely.

Don’t be afraid to extend your office – Use coffee shops, motorway service stations or even their homes to meet.  Suggest meeting halfway on travel and always spend the time where possible to meet face to face.  If this is not possible, video conferencing is now widely accessible and a very cheap and reliable solution to ‘virtually meet’.

Give everyone a say – Holding staff virtual meetings to give everyone a say ‘on the new office coffee machine’ will go a long way to making individuals feel included, even if they attend the office irregularly.

Create a community spirit Happiness is contagious, if you have happy people then you will have happy, productive staff. Encourage staff to offer support to each other, allow them time in their day to phone or Skype a colleague, and offer to lend a hand or just catch-up to see how their day has been. Doing something kind for someone else especially when that someone wasn’t expecting it can be an incredibly powerful motivational tool.

Help your staff make the most out of their payStaff may be able to claim tax back for some of the bills they have to pay because they work at home on a regular basis. They can claim for things like business telephone calls or the extra cost of gas and electricity. However, doing this can be confusing and complicated. Put some documentation together for your staff and if possible, help them with the self-assessment tax returns.

Five applications to help you manage your remote teams.

Office 365 – Office 365 is designed to help you achieve more. With a seamless experience across your devices, Office 365 empowers your employees to work with familiar tools in new ways – anytime, anywhere.

Slack  – Brings all your team’s communication together, giving everyone a shared workspace where conversations are organised and accessible. It helps staff stay connected to one another across remote offices and remote teams.

Microsoft Teams – Collaborate, communicate in the moment and keep everyone in the know. Stay connected with chat, calls, and meetings within your team and in private or small group conversations. Schedule and join online Skype meetings with HD video, VoIP, and dial-in audio conferencing options. Share your files, apps or desktop in online meetings.

Skype for Business – Getting your team together is as easy as sharing a link, professional online meetings built for businesses.

Autotask Workplace – Security, mobility and collaboration enterprise-grade File Sync & Share (FSS) solution purpose-built for business.

If you want to know more about creating forward-thinking IT environments, geared up for remote and flexible working where you don’t need to be constrained by your location or device, give Aura Technology a call on 033 33 208 601.

Richard Flanders
Head of Customer Strategy