Remote working – What Charities need to know

Typically, charities tend to have the majority of their staff based at a head office, with a limited number of people working remotely. However recent events have necessitated the need to embrace new technology. This presents many challenges but do not fret, help is on hand! 

There’s plenty of research to show that productivity rises among staff when they work from home, if it’s done right. This could be an opportunity for your charity to pilot a new way of working, or at the very least ensure you can remain productive during the coming months.

This article will look at the available solutions which enable effective, distributed working and the adaptations to the way charities can work.

For starters you need to ask yourself, do you have the right tools — the right hardware and the right software? Improvements often come with an attached cost  but being a charity, you need to keep costs to a minimum. Luckily enough, there are free and heavily discounted options out there for third sector organisations.

You also need to ask yourself if you have the correct processes and cultures in place. Some of these are likely to be specific to your team but it’s likely that you’ll need to put structures in place to communicate regularly. This is where we find many organisations are falling short.

There has never been a better time to take a step back and look at how technology is working for you, are you making the most of what is available?

Hardware

It goes without saying, that for effective remote working you need the right hardware and a solid internet connection. For many, this has been a challenge as organisations have been reliant on staff using their own devices and home internet connection. But this can create issues, not least in regards to security and data protection! You may believe that this is a way to cut costs, but it is important to invest in technology which will allow staff to work effectively and safely. 

Software

As we went into lockdown many charities clambered to make the “quick fix” changes so that staff could work remotely but in many cases corners were cut and security compromised.  Ultimately, software should streamline and improve operations and there are a number of options to consider. Where some have gone down the Teams and Zoom route, others have opted for centralised collaboration software which combines telephony. 

Since home working became commonplace, a major issue highlighted by charities is their staff having to rely on their own personal mobile phones to handle work calls. More often than not callers cannot reach the person they wish to communicate with. Why? Because….there is no centralised phone system in place routing incoming calls to available team members. If this sounds familiar and you are transferring calls to staff mobiles then we would be happy to discuss a solution for your charity which is inexpensive and can be quickly implemented.

Of course it is also important that staff can view/share documents whilst working remotely and there are different options available including OneDrive and Google Drive. MS OneDrive and Google Drive are the two market leaders and although they essentially offer the same service, the approach is radically different. Our team is happy to advise you on the best option for your charity. 

Meetings

Video/audio conferencing is certainly the new “norm” and many charities have opted to use Teams and Zoom with varying degrees of success. Following extensive market research we have partnered with 3CX to provide a PBX phone system that has a fantastic built in video (and audio) conferencing feature so you will only ever need one app for all your internal and external communication needs. The phone system dashboard can be accessed via mobile, PC/laptop or compatible VoIP phone. As a 3CX partner, we can offer charities a free trial too!

 

Closing thoughts…

It can take time and effort to move to a culture of remote working. It doesn’t always come naturally and communication must be more deliberate. Management styles need to adapt. Technology and tools may need to change.

But it also has some real advantages for you and your staff. No long commutes and flexible working. Ultimately, the only way to achieve the perfect balance is by the effective use of technology. 

You are not alone. Speak to our friendly team and let us show you the way. 

Stay safe.