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Working From Home Indefinitely? Focus on These 4 Areas

Afton Brazzoni | Industry Analysis | 8th September 2020
Working From Home Indefinitely? Focus on These 4 Areas

The digital real estate advertising firm Zillow made headlines in August with news that the organization will allow employees to work from home indefinitely. Many other companies, including those in the publishing industry, with staff who can get their work done remotely also have yet to bring team members back to the office. This trend is likely to continue while COVID-19 remains a threat to public health. The result? A new frontier for office work.

Many organizations were fully or partially remote before the pandemic, but the numbers have skyrocketed over the past six months. The transition has understandably been challenging for some, but remote work has benefits that your media company can learn to harness. For example, having a remote workforce means you can access a much larger pool of talent than you’d be able to tap into if you were restricted to hiring within your local area.

In this post, we’ll cover 4 areas of focus you need to consider if your team is working from home indefinitely.

How to set your remote workforce up for success

1. Financial support for employees' home offices

Currently, over 60% of employees in the U.S. work from home, compared to only 14% prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of your media organization’s staff may have been well-equipped for the transition with their own home office or another quiet, functional space to work, countless others were thrown into the remote work lifestyle without an opportunity—or the budget—to prepare.

Many companies have chosen to cover the costs of essential items like computers, desks, chairs, phone bills, and WiFi costs to ensure their employees can still get their jobs done from home. For example, earlier this year, Basecamp, Shopify, and Twitter all gave their staff $1,000 to set up a home office, according to a CNBC report.

Offering your employees financial support to set up a home office shows that you’re invested in their role on your team. With the right tools, your staff can not only cope, but thrive, in a remote work environment.

2. Cloud-based, collaborative systems

Research indicates that people are generally more productive working from home than they are in an office environment. Remote employees spend an average of 4% longer on their “core work” at home than they do at the office, and 18% less time on correspondence.

However, you need the right technology to make remote work successful—on multiple fronts. Over 90% of workers say technology solutions that streamline their work boost their job satisfaction as well, according to an Ultimate Software study. Solid tech also reduces the room for error inherent in manual processes.

When evaluating technology for your remote workforce, look for solutions that will help your media organization run more efficiently. For example, Lineup Systems’ cloud-based Adpoint media sales solution enables publishers to make their operations leaner by combining four critical systems—customer relationship management, order management, finance, and analytics—into a single platform. The Adpoint App Market also allows publishers to access more than 50 pre-built integrations.

If you’re concerned about the price tag on new tech, your company may be able to apply for government grants or loans for businesses who need to upgrade their systems to function in today’s remote work landscape.

3. Increased cybersecurity

While employees working from home are typically connected to secure Wi-Fi networks, remote workers using unsecured public Wi-Fi—for example, at a coffee shop—are at greater risk of a data breach. This alone is a solid argument for a proper home office.

However, using personal devices can still be problematic even among your staff who work at home rather than at a public place. Personal devices and networks don’t always have the same security as enterprise tech, and cyberattacks may be able to get past their firewalls. The backup functionality on these devices also may not be as robust as on your company’s own fleet of computers.

You need to ensure you’re protecting your media organization’s data. Here are a few ways to reduce the risk of a remote breach:

  • Create a remote work security policy that includes a crisis plan with instructions on reporting a lost or stolen device 
  • Ensure your virtual private network (VPN) has been patched against threats 
  • Mandate strong passwords and use two-factor authentication whenever possible
  • Develop training manuals for any new software your employees need while working from home

4. Networking and team building opportunities

Remote work will inevitably suit some of your team members (we’re looking at you, introverts!) more than others. Nearly 20% of people who work from home say loneliness is their biggest challenge, according to Buffer.com's 2019 State of Remote Report. Another 17% found collaborating and communicating to be tough when not done face-to-face.

Solid working relationships among your staff are essential to your media organization’s culture, morale, and performance. It may require some creativity and effort on your part to foster these relationships, but you can have fun in the process and reap the rewards of a tight-knit team. This can be as simple as hosting a virtual coffee break, inviting your employees to share their weekend plans over a chat app, or arranging a team trivia event.

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