Remote working: How to support your team members who are low tech or low data

Posted by Johnny Kromer on 28 Jul 2020 12:30:00 PM

How should companies and managers support their teams who might be low on data, due to connectivity issues or not having access to good quality internet connections ?

Often IT and remote working solutions are created by people with perfect internet connections, big screens, and high bandwidth. In reality, this is not the case for most people using these solutions!

According to Stats SA, only one in 10 households have access to the internet at home. The reasons are numerous, but mostly involve the cost of data and access to internet service. This expert article gives advice on how best to assist your low tech, low bandwidth team members.

Invest in the right equipment

A forward-thinking organisation ensures that it has the best equipment and supplies for its operations. As organisation's shift their workforce towards remote working they will be faced with new demands for computing, memory, storage, and networking capacity.

Although organisations are adept at fortifying their systems and infrastructure, what escapes many decision-makers is that the concept applies to the equipment used by the remote staff as well. Equipment or supplies for remote staff is any resource the employee needs to produce work; it could be a PC, laptop, scanner, cameras, office supplies or internet connection.

"Only one in five households own one or more computers in South Africa.” – Stats SA

Shifting the responsibility of equipment and supplies to the worker is risky, as they have different ideas on quality along with budgetary constraints. By taking responsibility for equipment and supplies, the organisation can standardise it's work, improve quality and ensure productivity.

Invest in quality internet 

Remote staff members could have bad internet connectivity because of the internet service provider (ISP) they have chosen. The reasons remote staff usually choose subpar ISPs are:

  • They don't know how to evaluate an ISP's products, and so they make a blind choice.
  • They underestimate the amount of bandwidth and data they will need.
  • The cost of the internet will come out of their salary, so they become price sensitive and choose the cheapest option.

The organisation will be in a better position if it provides the internet for its remote employees. That way, employees have quality internet connections that do not expire.

There are scenarios wherein remote staff live in bad service areas or internet dead zones. For these employees, the organisation will have to provide mobile hotspots. Although they are more expensive than other options, mobile hotspots will ensure that the employee is online and they will appreciate the organisation's effort to improve their work environment.

"60 percent of internet access is through mobile devices.” – Stats SA

Improve the WiFi signal

There are a few simple and other more technical steps that an employee can use to improve their WiFi signal at home. An optimum location for the WiFi router is the central part of the house and on an elevated plane like a desk or shelf. Good habits like closing browser tabs, programs and apps that are not in use could also free up the WiFi.  

The more technical steps require the employee to reboot the router and optimise their WiFi settings. Additionally, there are tools like a WiFi repeater or a WiFi extender that amplify an existing WiFi signal.

 


Are you looking to get your remote workers set up with Microsoft Teams? Click here and well be in touch to help you get started.


Avoid internet saturation

Saturation occurs when too many people are demanding bandwidth at the same time; for example, when everybody in the house is streaming different movies on different devices at the same time. Saturation causes an overload on the bandwidth and automatically slows the internet speeds for everyone. Simple house rules can free up bandwidth, for example, limiting the number of devices connected or the amount of bandwidth-heavy applications. Additionally, the user can run routine checks for malware or system updates.

Saturation can also happen at the ISP level. This occurs when the user is on a low-tier plan, and too many customers are trying to access the internet at the same time. This results in the ISP throttling the internet connection, thereby slowing everything down. The most straightforward fix for this is upgrading the employee's plan. Other, more technical fixes, require checking cable splitters or changing to a different Domain Name System (DNS).

Embrace cloud technology

The chief concern about shifting from working in the office to working remotely is access to resources. The organisation's data centre provides computing and storage capabilities that remote employees will still need to work. Cloud technology brings those resources right to the remote employee.

Using the cloud, an employee can use the full might of the organisation's data centre from any location. These powerful processing and storage capabilities are at the employee's disposal using a regular internet connection and PC or mobile device.

Microsoft Teams: the remote work solution

Moving staff to remote work involves a lot of moving parts. It would be best if you had a solution that will give employees access to your cloud resources, business systems, telephony lines, and each other. Microsoft Teams is the all-encompassing solution that will keep everyone, no matter the task, on the same platform.

Microsoft Teams is effective, efficient and highly secure. It is also mobile – keep in mind that remote working doesn't necessarily mean working from home. Staff members could be out in the field or on the other side of the planet and still have full access to your resources.

Provide support with Microsoft Teams 

Teams is a collaboration software with versatile functions, including providing support within an organisation. IT administrators can provide public and private channels for troubleshooting. They can use chat, voice, video, and screen sharing to provide information, services and training on the platform.

An important Microsoft Teams function is desktop sharing, which lets users give or request control. Giving IT administrators access to remote employee's PC's enables them to provide support for the more complicated fixes. Providing support through Teams reduces costs and saves time since nobody has to travel to fix the PC or the internet.

How to support your remote staff

Supporting remote staff requires you to:

  • Plan for the resources they will need, especially when it comes to accessing data.
  • Adopt cloud.
  • Invest in adequate equipment and quality internet.
  • Consider providing hotspots in poorly serviced areas.
  • Adopt a unified communications solution like Teams.
  • Use Microsoft Teams to provide remote support.
  • Check remote employee available internet speeds: you can use online tools like Ookla Speedtest or Comparitech's speed test.
  • Instil good internet habits like updating software, running anti-malware and closing any unnecessary programs, apps or browser tabs.
  • Position the WiFi router well and optimise the WiFi settings.
  • Prioritise, structure and schedule bandwidth use.

Remote workers need you to support them with equipment to work on, connectivity to use, and communication lines to keep in touch. After that, they need to have access to IT support, should they come across any issues. Invest in your remote staff to improve the quality of work and productivity of the remote team.

Ready to get your remote teams set up with Office 365 and Microsoft Teams? Click below and we’ll help you to get set up.

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Topics: Adoption and Change Management

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