Whether your employees are working remotely or in an office setting, it is important to know how to evaluate their work stations. This is a relatively simple process in an office, but it’s complicated when employees spread out to work remotely.
More and more companies are opening up to the idea of having their staff work remotely on a long-term or permanent basis, so even if you anticipate returning to a shared office space in the near future, it is important to be able to evaluate work stations at home as well.
First things first, do you have a policy in place for how you evaluate work stations? If not, now is the time to create an ongoing policy and timeline for doing so on a regular basis, especially if you anticipate having your team work from home for the long-term. This article will help you review the basics when creating a policy and a step-by-step plan for evaluating workstations, regardless of location.
At the start of the pandemic, many businesses assumed that remote work would be a short-term solution. Now, after nearly a year of various phases of quarantine and stay-at-home orders, many companies have had to invest in additional hardware and software to ensure that their teams can complete their work successfully from home. What specific items do each of your staff members need to be able to work effectively from home?
Consider the individual roles and needs of each employee. Can everyone work from a laptop, or are there employees that need additional hardware in order to fulfill their job requirements? Does everyone have access to the software and apps that they need? If your team has regular video calls with each other or with clients, does their home internet speed and conference app of choice allow for a smooth and uninterrupted video conference?
Do all of your computers have sufficient storage, memory, and processor power? Insufficiencies in any of these areas can be the culprit if your computers are working slowly. Upgrading your hard drives to SSD cards can be a quick and inexpensive fix to improve performance and speed. You should also ensure that your computers are receiving regular software updates, but be wary of third-party updates that can slow processing time or make your company more susceptible to security breaches.
Talk to your staff individually to find out what needs they have or what upgrades you could provide to improve the quality and ease of their work.
When evaluating workstations, don’t overlook security measures, including cybersecurity. Keeping your work secure in any location is vital to the safety of your small business. Whether your employees are still telecommuting or some have returned to your office space, now is a good time to review security protocols for each workstation.
Ensure that your remote employees only access files through an end-to-end VPN system in addition to two-factor authentication on all websites and apps regardless of their location. When using video conferencing tools and other conferencing technologies, make sure to keep those connections and links private and encrypted.
Beyond cybersecurity, evaluate if any of your employees need to review sensitive information in hard copy. If so, provide those employees with locking storage cabinets to secure private documents. You should also provide a refresher training on the security measures you expect them to take when handling sensitive information in a private residence.
Regular audits of your cybersecurity systems and practices will ensure that you and your team stay ahead of any potential threats. For more extensive information on security and how to maintain a safe online presence for your small business, check our recent articles on this topic.
Raise your hand if you remember those awful desk-chair combos in high school and college! If ever there was an uncomfortable place to sit for a multi-hour final exam, it was those. Avoid painful flashbacks by addressing the ergonomic needs of your team, starting with seating. While you don’t necessarily need to invest in the Cadillac of office chairs for your entire team, giving consideration to ergonomics will go a long way to ensure that your staff are working safely and comfortably at their workstations.
Work chairs, whether at home or in the office, should have an adjustable back and arms, and provide lumbar support at a bare minimum. Proper sitting posture, support, and alignment will go a long way to reducing fatigue. If any of your staff don’t have an appropriate work desk and chair, consider providing a stipend to help them get the right furniture. This investment will pay off in overall productivity many times over.
Beyond seating, a quick trick to help you and your team test basic ergonomics at each station is to remember the acronym NEW.
- Neutral Posture: Whether sitting or at a standing desk, elbows should be at a right angle with wrists flat on the keyboard. When sitting, the lower back should be supported, with hips and knees both at right angles with feet flat on the floor.
- Eye and Elbow Height: The keyboard and mouse should be in line with elbows with the top of the monitor at or just below eye level and the monitor about an arms length away from the eyes.
- Work Area: Keyboard and mouse should be centered on the desk, with other items used most frequently within arms reach.
When evaluating work stations it is also a good idea to consider the “extras” that can go a long way to improving the quality of work overall.
Proper lighting is an easy piece to overlook when evaluating remote work stations. Make sure that each station is well-lit, preferably with as much natural sunlight as possible. If that isn’t an option, add lighting to the list of items you will cover for your employees. A lamp that mimics the effects of natural sunlight will improve both visibility and mood at any workstation.
Noise cancelling headphones might be an unnecessary expense in a quiet office, but for a staff member working from home with a partner, children, or pets, it can be a vital extra perk! Using comfortable headsets for phone calls also reduces neck and upper back strain while freeing up both hands to take notes or do computer work related to the call.
Finally, if you and your staff spend a lot of time on computers, purchasing blue-light reducing glasses alleviates eye strain, saving you and your employees money down the road.
Evaluating workstations are a necessary and important part of small business maintenance. Tech Masters can help you assess your needs and provide personalized recommendations to ensure that your employees are able to work efficiently and effectively, from both home and office.
“More and more companies are opening up to the idea of having their staff work remotely, so it’s important to be able to evaluate work stations at home as well. “
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