Remote work essentials: How IT can prepare for a distributed workforce
With many businesses and organizations facing the need to support remote employees, some are looking for help familiarizing themselves with digital tools to maintain productivity. Here are some of our best practices for IT admins to help keep businesses and teams working together effectively, no matter where they are.
Give your workforce access to the tools they need to collaborate remotely
Video conferencing, chat, email, and shared documents are all essential tools for helping a remote workforce stay connected. Be sure your employees have access to the right apps with the right permissions to avoid downtime. It’s a good idea to make sure managed devices have the right policies for Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and virtual private network (VPN) access, as well as network certificates (for managed devices enrolled in your organization).
For example, Hangouts Meet helps people stay connected while remote; to help businesses and schools stay connected, we recently announced we’re providing our most advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities at no cost to G Suite and G Suite for Education organizations. For G Suite admins that want to take advantage of these features, from the Admin console Home page, go to Apps > G Suite > Google Hangouts > Meet settings. From here you can enable features like recording and live streaming. Be sure video calling is turned on—learn how here.
Be prepared to provide support and information at scale
Internal sites can be powerful tools for sharing critical information at scale within your organization. For example, when communicating changes to remote work policies, consider creating an internal site that anticipates frequently asked questions and includes:
Best practices for working remotely, including tips on how to use shared drives, collaborating on documents in real-time, and video-first meetings.
This site can also include a support chat room and a schedule for planned office hours where IT can help with questions users might have as they begin working from home.
Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations are also important tools for helping workers stay up to date on information that’s changing by the minute. A variety of sharing options are available, depending upon the size of your audience.
Ensure corporate policies reflect workforce needs
Be sure you think about your environment with current circumstances in mind. For example, the ability to provide remote support and manage Chrome devices remotely can help keep employees up and running and mitigate risk if a corporate device is misplaced or stolen.
If you have context-aware access policies applied to different user groups (such as only letting certain employees access Gmail outside of the corporate Wi-Fi network), these access levels should be revisited so that employees can use the tools they need when working remotely. IT teams can enforce browser policies for users, whether they are on or off of the corporate network. To help you set up some of these policies, check out these pointers.
You might also want to review your organization’s policies about distributing hardware to employees. For example, an employee’s device might need to be replaced, but if your organization has a policy of not shipping devices to employees’ homes, it might be more difficult to get essential hardware to those who need it. It’s also worth considering policies regarding employees’ use of hardware for personal needs. For example, some employees might need to make hardware available at home for their children to access remote education, and providing them with that flexibility can be reassuring.
Be ready to monitor adoption and share employee successes
Don’t set it and forget it. Be prepared to understand how usage patterns differ from team to team or even by region. Analyzing trends in usage can help identify certain teams that might need additional training. It might also unearth something a certain team is doing differently than others that enables them to get the most out of the technology—and might be worth scaling to the rest of the organization. For example, the Meet Quality Tool within the admin console enables you to review meeting participation and help users in real time.
Find, celebrate, and share these wins. Create an avenue—a chat room, or co-authored document—for employees to share their own best practices and the successes they’ve had from being able to work remotely, so that others can benefit as well.
We hope this guide has helped you think through your organization’s needs as you plan to support a distributed workforce. We’ll continue to share our learnings and best practices and make new and updated resources available. In the meantime, you can find more information in our Learning Center article on tips for working remotely, in our Help Center, and in this quick deployment guide for enabling remote working with Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.