When your employees are working remotely, it can provide solutions to common problems in some cases. For example, moving to remote work allowed companies to continue functioning during spring coronavirus shutdowns. 

At the same time, it can also create its own set of challenges. 

For example, there are issues of productivity and also cybersecurity to consider. Cybersecurity is particularly challenging. Businesses are working to put in place policies and tools to make network management easier and to reduce the likelihood of breaches for example. 

One way to help make remote work safer and more effective is to provide certain software and hardware to remote employees. Ensuring employees have the proper equipment may be an upfront investment initially, but it can save a lot of money down the road. 

The following are things you should consider providing as an employer or providing a subsidy for if you think your employees could be working remotely consistently on an ongoing basis, or even just occasionally as the situation requires. 

Desktop or Laptop

One of the foundational pieces of equipment that you might provide to employees is either a desktop or a laptop. 

You can follow a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, but this has risks, including cybersecurity threats. You also have to think about how you would manage clearing data if an employee were fired or left the company for any reason. 

What you might think about doing is offering a stipend for employees to buy a work-only device. 

If you’re doing that or following a BYOD approach, you should outline the standards the device is required to meet. 

If you’re providing a stipend, you should have clear parameters that guide what the employee can buy. 

There’s something to think about either with BYOD or a stipend. If something goes wrong, your tech support team may not be able to help some employees if all their computer models are different from one another. This can be an upside to providing standard devices to employees. 

Increased Internet

You might want to consider providing your employees with a monthly allowance they can put toward increased internet and data. 

With this is something else important to bring up. 

You might also want to provide a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN lets your remote workers connect to a private network when they’re accessing anything work-related. It can help keep your company data safe, no matter where employees might be working. 

There’s also the option of having employees log into a remote desktop. A remote desktop offers security similar to a VPN, and this could eliminate the need to buy a desktop or a laptop as well. With a remote desktop, employees log into the corporate ecosystem on any device, but data remains on the company server instead of the local machine. 

Communication Apps

The available communication apps you could use are broad, and you may already have some in place. If not, you will have to compare the options like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom and figure out which is going to work best for employee needs and your budget. 

These are fairly inexpensive, but you want to make sure that employees not only have subscriptions provided but also that they’re comfortable using these platforms. 

Collaboration software should also be something you give employees, which may be separate from communication tools, or the two might be integrated. 

Collaboration software should include features like the ability to talk informally and instant message and share and work on documents. Ideally, detailed task management features need to be part of the platform. 

Task management software needs to include productivity visibility that will be useful to managers, and there should be the ability to specify priority levels for individual tasks and employees.

Employee Training

With all of the above changes and new types of software, devices, and apps, it’s also necessary that  if you haven’t done so already you update employee training to reflect the remote work environment. 

Create new training protocols as far as remote communication and task management, as well as security. 

Your employees need to feel comfortable understanding how to use all the tools at their disposal, and they need to be clear on what their job roles are in a remote environment and how they can successfully transition. 

As an employer, you don’t necessarily have to provide remote workers with devices and software, but it’s a good way to retain remote employees and help ensure productivity as well as the ability to overcome certain challenges. It makes good business sense to do so.