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Declaring a snow day may not be as horrible for business as you think.

The decision is always a hard one and every winter it is a difficult decision that business owners and managers have to wrestle with. Making judgment calls based on weather predictions and road conditions before six in the morning isn’t an easy one. Managers often find themselves in a Catch-22, not wanting to lose employee productivity, but also not want to be putting staff members in dangerous situations. Safety is always priority. However, if your office shuts completely down every time there’s inclement weather, it makes your business look unreliable and gives the competition an edge.

Luckily technology has saved us and many of our clients over the years. Not only is Domain staff still productive when we have a delayed opening, but we were actually even MORE productive when we have a full snow day.

Upon further analysis it makes sense.

On a snow day there is no ambiguity as to what is expected of staff. Our office communication and server systems support remote work access, so staff is expected to be plugged in from home at the same time they would be in the office. Theoretically, there should be no loss in productivity or gaps in availability throughout the entire day. We do recognize, of course, that shoveling driveways and building a snowman with the kids may break up the day here and there.

With a delayed opening, employees begin the day in limbo. You don’t know whether to start preparing for a commute that will take longer than normal or plan to be productive performing remote work at home. This means that very little work is accomplished for the first half of the day. Not only are staff unproductive during the delay, but they are also unproductive during their now slower and longer commutes – in still less than ideal conditions.

The numbers don’t lie, because of our remote access technology – we have approximately 90% staff productivity on a full snow day and only 75% staff productivity with a delayed opening. Same employees, same workload, two different circumstances.

We’ve run this test on more than one occasion during inclement weather conditions. Not everyone was good at being productive from home – some staff performed at 40%. However, others were at 110%! So technology isn’t the magic button for all of our staff. But now we know those who could handle a flex-schedule and those who would struggle. Side note: You may be wondering how we measure our productivity. We’ve developed our own tools to measure utilization. Ask us about it!

I still don’t know if the skeptic in me is faithful enough to fully believe the numbers. I feel like other metrics such as response time, company culture, equitable distribution of stress, etc. still need to be evaluated. However, if employee productivity alone was the only metric we cared about, we would definitely have more snow days and less delayed openings.

The big question is, has your company invested in technology solutions that will allow them to be productive when they are forced to work outside of the office? I’m not just talking about email access (although if your employees cannot access their email remotely, you’re way behind the curve). In order to be productive and work efficiently from any remote location, your employees need access to your company’s network folders, business critical software applications (CRM, company database, quoting system, practice management software, line-of-business application, etc.), phone system, email (as mentioned above), and other network collaboration/communication tools. Not only do your employees need access to these tools, that access needs to be secure.

In order to keep your employees productive, even on a snow day, Domain Computer Services is offering our personally developed Telecommuter Toolkit. By implementing the following technologies, your employees will enjoy secure universal access to all of their business critical data and communication tools.

  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Terminal Server for super fast access to server resources, databases, CRM over a home Internet connection.
  • Sonicwall VPN to secure and encrypt remote access sessions.
  • IP Based Office Softphones that can run on PCs or tablets at home – so you can answer calls to your office extension from a home PC. When you call clients or coworkers, it shows an office phone number so you don’t inadvertently share your personal phone numbers if you don’t want to.
  • Microsoft Lync to instantly chat or communicate with the office – and most importantly on a snow day – in real time know who is plugged in, ready and available to get work done!
  • RSA multi-factor authentication token to ensure the whole process is secure so only your staff can access the office remotely. Read our article about MFA to learn more.

If you are interested in learning how to maximize your employees’ productivity inside and outside of the office by utilizing remote work, our Telecommuter Toolkit just might be the ticket. Introduce it to your boss and you may not get as much flack next time you ask to work from home.

Give us a call to learn more!

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