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Coronavirus and remote working

Published on 31st March 2020 - Last update on 9th May 2020

The coronavirus is affecting every aspect of life – including the world of work. Businesses of all kinds are being hit hard and, even if they are allowed to stay open, the impact can be a serious challenge to their operation.

Even if they can find ways to work with customers or clients remotely, struggling firms are having to find ways to cope with the fact that key staff are going to be off-site.

There could be many reasons for their absence. Some will have contracted the disease and be in self-isolation, and too unwell to work. Those staff who are well may be faced with the headache of schools being shut and the need to care for children at home.

The effect of losing these key employees for days or weeks - or even months, and sometimes entire teams at once – could be devastating.

But a solution may exist for some businesses who are able to adopt remote working for their staff.

Remote working has been growing in importance for businesses of all kinds in recent years as the technology to support it becomes more reliable. It lets your employees have the ability to work anywhere, at any time. No matter where they live – or happen to be, they should be able to log in to your business systems and carry on as if they were in the office. With a modern system, you simply need access to the internet and a computer.

It had started to become a mainstream solution long before the coronavirus pandemic began to force companies into operating in this way – because they recognised the benefits in terms of increased efficiency and reduced costs. However, in the current crisis it can provide a lifeline that could help a business to continue to operate, and could allow:

  • Staff who cannot travel to work productively
  • The danger of contagion to be reduced
  • Work can be scheduled flexibly – to fit in with family commitments
  • Mobile workers – such as sales teams – to access the company database

A government initiative

The current crisis means flexibility is necessary and remote working has actually become an official government policy as the result of the coronavirus.

What started as a gentle suggestion in the early stages of the crisis has become almost mandatory. The instruction for workers to stay away from their offices and carry on jobs, where possible, from the safety of their own home has become a clear, unmistakable command from officials. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that all employers should take every possible step to make sure remote working can happen.

Of course, not every type of business can have workers who are remote. Production, packaging, construction, or any business that depends on sensitive instruments or specific equipment will need to ensure people come in or shut down – but for millions of workers, it should, in theory, be possible for the whole team to operate at a distance, no matter where they are all based.

Many businesses already had flexible or remote working arrangements in place, allowing their teams to access company databases and cooperate remotely. Team members can log on and get key tasks done, wherever they physically are in the world – and many businesses report that job satisfaction and productivity both increase.

It can also mean that your business needs less costly desk space to accommodate the team.

You may need to invest in some new computer equipment, but with the right software and some investment in additional hardware – mainly durable laptops with suitable connectivity - your business could simply carry on working through the crisis. After all, if your staff spend their time in front of a screen, it actually makes very little difference if that screen is in their home or in your office.

Do you need financial support to help your business and employees work remotely? Find out your full range of options today from a knowledgable and expert team who is on your side

How does remote working actually work in practice?

Properly arranged and set up, remote working can help ensure your business is still operating at peak productivity and carrying out vital work while continuing to engage effectively with your staff, clients and suppliers.

There are a few simple steps to setting up your staff to all work from home effectively.

Getting your staff to understand your systems is key. You can get your teams working as if they are on their normal office PCs – with their screen displays and software identical, and access to your network and data as easily as if they were at their desk in your office.

You will need to make some changes to your management style. You will need to keep the team motivated and talking to each other. Virtual meetings are the obvious solution, and daily catch-ups using video conferencing can be the ideal answer.

But if your business has stuck to a more traditional office set up, how do you quickly change everything to allow remote working?

The answer is probably to turn to an expert facilitator who can help you set up the systems you need – but there will be a financial need – and in the current crisis, you may be worried about financial commitments.

The answer is to call us at Rangewell if you need to arrange finance for the new IT systems you need. An Asset Funding solution - with the IT equipment you buy acting as the security for the loan could be a cost-effective solution. We know the lenders in the sector, and can help you secure the most competitive rate for the equipment you need.

We know the most cost-effective ways to provide the hardware and software you might need to support homeworking. 

Do you have to close?

Some businesses like shops and pubs have been shut by legal decree, while others have chosen to close down to protect staff.

But even if you are in the categories that have been forced to close, you might not need to shut down altogether. If you are a retailer, you may be able to look at online business. If you run a restaurant or a pub with a commercial kitchen, you may be able to offer takeaways.

Your takings might be down, especially at first, but you may be able to keep the business ticking over - and some income could be better than none. 

‘Non-essential’ shops have shut - but there is no reason why your business has to wind down its online operations.

Of course, if yours is a B2B operation, you don’t need to close at all. Clients may be harder to find, but that just means your sales team, your marketing team, and your customer service team will have to work harder.

At Rangewell, we are expert in all types of business finance, and we can help you find the funding that's best for you - whether you're looking for help with a government scheme, new lending - or ways to cut the costs of bringing in the IT you need to enable remote working. 

During the current crisis, we can support your business in finding the funding you need. Call us now – our experts are ready to help you with any finance challenges you may face during the coronavirus crisis.

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