The COVID-19 pandemic is helping companies discover that a remote workforce provides surprising benefits. Many businesses are considering permanently shifting to some form of a virtual office as we continue to weather the pandemic and even after we emerge. Is yours one of them?
If so, you’re not alone—and you likely have some research-backed reasons for wanting to do so. A significant number of employees want to continue working remotely , even after offices reopen. Studies have shown that companies save an average of $11,000 a year  for every employee working from home, even just part time—and that remote employees are often more productive . Plus, more remote workers are better for the environment . These benefits are encouraging some companies, from large corporations like Facebook to smaller local businesses, to extend their flexible/work-from-home policies to all employees instead of a select few.
Transitioning to a virtual office is not difficult, but business owners must move quickly. The checklist of things businesses need to put inplace before going remote is short—however, everything on it is important, and it’s more than just making sure your employees have access to high-speed Internet at home.
Based on Cox Business’ experience helping companies go either fully or partially remote, here’s what business owners need to consider to successfully transition to virtual work.
? Strong IT cloud storage solutions. Since employees are no longer onsite, you need a solid cloud storage system and infrastructure to store documents and information.
?Stronger cybersecurity tools and education. At the office, the company network and equipment provide a high level of protection, but when an employee works remotely, he or she might not be taking enough security precautions while using their home network. Companies need to both boost their cybersecurity systems and proactively educate employees about new cyber threats facing remote offices (more than just the usual “don’t respond to spear phishing emails” lecture).
? VoIP phone systems. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phonesystems allow workers to manage outgoing and incoming calls online, instead of being dependent on physical analog office phones. Installing a VoIP system now eliminates the need for employees to forward work calls to their mobile phones, and allows businesses to cut the costs of phone hardware sooner.
? UCaaS. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaas) providers are cloud services that centralize all your workflow, productivity, storage and communications tools, including phone and Internet.
Essentially, they help employees manage everything in one central place online.
? Digital services for physical and mental well-being. Consider adding access to subscription-based meditation and workout apps to benefits packages, or ensuring virtual mental health telemedicine services are in your medical plan. With more employees working remotely—and likely putting in longer hours as a result—comes the potential for technology fatigue. Looking after their physical and mental wellbeing is more important than ever.
The business environment and the needs of our workforce are changing rapidly. No matter what the post-pandemic workplace looks like, there are many good reasons to take your business entirely online. Keep these tech tips in mind if you’re considering going virtual, and your transition will be more successful.
Duane Cameron has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. He is vice president for Cox Business.