4 Ways to Ease the Transition to a Remote Workforce

Right now, like most businesses, you’re likely preparing for employees to work remotely in light of the evolving COVID-19 situation. We understand that this transition involves more than flipping a switch. That’s why we’ve identified these tips and tools to help organisations better manage newly remote workers.

1.   Ensure Effective Communication

Effective communication is critical when shifting from on-site to remote work. Harvard Business Review recommends managers take the following steps to improve engagement and productivity of telecommuting employees:

  • Schedule Structured Daily Check-ins – This can be a series of one-on-one calls or a team call. What’s most important is that these check-ins are regular and predictable.
  • Provide More Than One Communication Technology Option – Don’t rely on email alone. Video conferencing has advantages for complex conversations, while mobile-enabled individual messaging is excellent for quick collaboration.
  • Establish Communication Norms – Regardless of the technology method, it’s crucial to set expectations for frequency, means and ideal timing of communication. For example, “We use videoconferencing for daily check-in meetings, but we use IM when something is urgent.”[i]
  • “WXYZ” Action Items – WXYZ essentially means to provide those last few details of exactly what’s expected, why and when. Be sure to include things such as: I expect the following deliverable, for this reasons by this date. So for example, you might say: “Can you please review the attached document by close of business today so that I have time to print copies for the board to review during their meeting tomorrow. That extra bit of communication will ensure 100% clarity to everyone collaborating on a project.

2.   Address Technology Needs and Security Risks

A telecommuting staff creates unique challenges for your IT team members as they take on more responsibilities than ever before with fewer resources. Here are three best practices for transitioning employees to work remotely, while helping them stay secure:

  • Conduct a Survey – After you’ve determined who will be working remotely, survey those employees to find out if they have the tools required to work from home. Do they have an available laptop, mobile phone, and access to high-speed internet? Do they need software installed to do their jobs and communicate with other employees?
  • Keep Devices Up to Date – Software updates are patches that often fix security holes. If you want to prevent malicious attacks by shutting the door malware uses to exploit loopholes, it’s critical to keep devices and laptops updated with the latest version of operating software, security software and applications.
  • Educate staff on cybersecurity – Don’t assume staff members automatically understand how to handle the enormous responsibility of accessing company data. Educate your employees on how to access information responsibly, and instruct them on any “emerging threats tied to the COVID-19 coronavirus, including new phishing attacks and attempts to steal VPN credentials,” recommends Forbes.[ii]

3.   Deploy a Zero Human Interaction Model for Maintaining Mobile Devices

LocknCharge can help facilitate a zero-touch model for deploying and maintaining mobile devices for your staff, ensuring continual access to a ready-to-go device used for employees working from home. The FUYL Tower can help manage devices in these cases:

  • Deploying Devices– For employees who do not currently have a device but need access to one, IT teams can provide access to tablets and laptops without any physical interaction via a FUYL Tower 5 or 15.
  • Loaner/Break-Fix Devices– If employees currently have a company-owned device at home, but the device breaks or is lost, IT teams can easily swap the broken device or provide a replacement without any physical contact via a FUYL Tower 5 or 15.

Here’s how to maintain a zero-touch model for maintaining mobile devices with the FUYL Tower:

  • Choose an accessible location at your facility to place one or more FUYL Tower 5 or 15s.
  • Stock the Tower with sanitised, ready-to-go devices.
  • When an employee needs a device, IT teams can digitally provide them with a 4-digit PIN code to access an individual compartment of the FUYL Tower.
  • IT teams can then retrieve broken devices and/or restock the Tower with new devices as needed.
  • With the robust online management portal, IT admins can manage towers remotely. They can track the activity of the Tower to know when the compartment was accessed, reset PINs, open doors, or quarantine doors—all done remotely without any physical contact.
  • Beyond the setbacks caused by the Coronavirus epidemic, Towers can continue to eliminate many of the manual processes associated with deploying devices, loaner device programs, break/fix programs or individual public charging for years to come.

4.   Keep Company Culture Alive

  • Check in with your coworkers, even if it’s something as simple as wishing them a good morning. Remote working can be isolating, so keeping up with regular conversation is a great way to stay positive.
  • If you hold social activities during or after work hours, keep those activities alive. For example, LocknCharge gathers in the office for “Beer Friday” every Friday afternoon. During this time of office closures, we will continue that tradition, but we’ll do it virtually via a video conference call.

In these extraordinary circumstances, our team remains committed to assisting you in managing your mobile devices to help minimise disruption to your business and employees. You can also get in touch with a LocknCharge team member to get a closer look at how our products ease your organisation’s transition to a remote workforce.


Sources

[i] A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers – Harvard Business Review

[ii] Checklist For Companies With Remote Employees Due To COVID-19 – Forbes

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3 Ways to Facilitate Distance Learning During School Closures

Right now, like most education providers, you’re likely ramping up digital training and distance learning in light of the evolving COVID-19 situation. We understand that this transition involves more than flipping a switch. That’s why we’ve identified three tips and tools to help you facilitate and sustain distance learning.

1.   Address Potential Technological Barriers

School districts need to consider if their student population has access to devices and reliable internet access before they go entirely digital. As technology integration specialist Kara Wilkins offers, “Best practice suggests we offer students a mix of digital and analog tasks to complete in order to ensure all students have access to the activities and curriculum.”[i]

The Center for American Progress recommends prioritizing equity at the center of a school’s response when focusing on continued educational activities during school closures. One way to accomplish this is by surveying families and staff to learn vital information about what technological devices and internet access they have available. Survey responses on potential technology barriers can inform plans about the following:

  • Prioritizing how to make devices and mobile broadband access points available to families.
  • Identifying which students would most benefit from access to nondigital resources such as printed assignments and library books.
  • Facilitating connections between families to support one another during school closures.[ii]
2.   Create a Plan to Ensure Effective Communication

Effective communication is critical to students learning as much from remote technological methods as they do from in-person teaching. Communicating with students online may require more thought and planning than communicating with students in a face-to-face environment. In the book Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning, Sandra Mitchell-Holder recommends including the following in your distance learning communication plan:

  • Methods you will use to communicate with your online students such as email, announcements, messages, video messages, video conferencing, or even phone calls. It is also equally crucial for you to tell your students which methods you plan to use to contact them so that they know where to look for your communications.
  • How often you will communicate with your students. Will it be bi-weekly, weekly, or once a day? Note that consistent, informative contact with students is essential.
  • How do you want your students to communicate with you? Whatever your preferred method of contact, make sure that you clearly communicate so your students know how to contact you.
  • Which communications method will you use for the different types of communications to your students? You may have a different approach for sending the day’s assignments versus providing students with timely feedback on course projects.[iii]
3.   Deploy a Zero-Touch Model for Maintaining Mobile Devices

LocknCharge can help facilitate a zero-touch model for deploying and maintaining mobile devices for your students and faculty, ensuring continual access to a ready-to-go device used for remote learning. The FUYL Tower can help manage devices in these cases during a school closure:

  • Deploying Devices– For students and faculty who do not currently have a device but need access to one, IT teams can provide access to tablets and laptops without any physical interaction via a FUYL Tower 5 or 15.
  • Loaner/Break-Fix Devices– If students and faculty currently have a device at home, but the device breaks or is lost, IT teams can easily swap the broken device or provide a replacement without any physical contact via a FUYL Tower 5 or 15.
  • Individual Overnight Charging– For students who are unable to charge their devices while away from school, such as students with housing insecurity, the FUYL Tower offers a secure location to safely store and charge devices overnight.

Here’s how to maintain a zero-touch model for maintaining mobile devices with the FUYL Tower:

  • Choose an accessible location at your facility to place one or more FUYL Tower 5 or 15s
  • Stock the Tower with sanitized, ready-to-go devices.
  • When a student or faculty member needs a device, IT teams can digitally provide them with a 4-digit PIN code to access an individual compartment of the FUYL Tower.
  • IT teams can then retrieve broken devices and/or restock the Tower with new devices as needed.
  • With the robust online management portal, IT admins can manage towers remotely. They can track the activity of the Tower to know when the compartment was accessed, reset PINs, open doors, or quarantine doors–all done remotely without any physical contact.
  • Beyond the setbacks caused by the Coronavirus epidemic, Towers can continue to eliminate many of the manual processes associated with deploying devices, loaner device programs, break/fix programs or individual public charging for years to come.

In these extraordinary circumstances, our team remains committed to assisting you in managing your mobile devices to help minimize disruption to your staff and students.


Sources:

[i] Distance Learning Tips From One Teacher to Another – PBS Education

[ii] How K-12 Schools Should Prepare for Coronavirus – Center for American Progress

[iii] Kilgore, Whitney, Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from: https://humanmooc.pressbooks.com/

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Powering Smart Manufacturing with Intelligent Asset Management

Businesses up and down the supply chain are undergoing a digital transformation. Everything from work orders to pick and pack checklists are being converted to digital formats as distribution centers, pet food manufacturers, and fast-food operators go paperless. As part of this digital revolution, technology for manufacturing, including iPads and industrial tablets are deployed in manufacturing facilities to speed up transactions, complete jobs more quickly, and create more efficient workflows. Once used by consumers to read ebooks, more and more employees on shop floors are getting work assignments and making sense of information with smart devices and intelligent asset management.  

Offering mobility and real-time data visibility to workers in the manufacturing and service industries equates to time savings and cost reductions. Here are just a few real-world examples:  

Bearing and seal manufacturing company SKF witnessed productivity
gains of
%
 from engineering staff armed with tablets. [1]
Office Depot Inc. has saved some
hours per year
 in order-entry time by digitising orders and transmitting them to the warehouse floor for processing on iPads. [2] 
Tablets and Technology at  Chick-fil-A allows cars to move through
%
faster
than they do at a traditional speaker box drive-thru. [3] 

The Challenges of Mobile Devices

Maintenance engineers awaiting repair requests and drive through attendants taking customer orders have the same challenge. Devices must be readily available and charged when their shifts start. If iPads and tablets are uncharged, lost, or broken, employees can’t perform their jobs, and companies lose time and money. When a device is down, your business loses both productivity and the capability of speeding up transactions.  

Like other work-related tools, if you’re using a smart device to perform your day-to-day job, you’re probably not taking it home at the end of your shiftSo it needs a place to be stored securely, and in many cases, be connected and accessible for essential updates. Devices that aren’t physically secured are at an increased risk for data breaches. Are you willing to take the chance that your devices won’t be compromised? Losing valuable intellectual property and confidential data can cause a severe business disruption resulting in penalties, reputation damage and wasted employee time.  

How do you make manufacturing more efficient? You can throw money at your mobile device challenges by hiring more people, creating more manual workarounds, or outsourcing the issue altogetherbut what if you could avoid many of these road blocks and costs from the start? While it may not be possible to eradicate system and equipment issues, there are solutions to decrease device downtimeWatch how organisations overcome organisational challenges by leveraging the FUYL Tower by LocknCharge. An intelligent asset management system that charges, stores, secures, and manages assets for most mobile devices. 

The Challenges of Mobile Devices

The FUYL Tower comes in two sizes of either 5 or 15 individually-lockable compartments. Here’s how this solution eliminates many of the manual workflow processes of shared device programs:  

Check-in/Check-out Program 

At the start of each shiftworkers use their assigned PINs or RFID badges to open an assigned locker and retrieve a device. At the end of the day, they put their devices back in a locker, where they will be charged and kept secure. In addition to physical security, the FUYL Tower’s embedded computer automatically applies security software updates as they become available. This feature ensures that for Towers connected to a network, security software is up to date and more prepared against cyber attacks. Easy peasy 

Device Loaner Program 

What happens if a device goes missing, encounters a fatal error, or gets damaged during a shift? With an additional tower for “hot spares,” no time is lost getting devices into the hands of workers who need them. Your employees can simply use a PIN or swipe their RFID badge and be on their way with a loaner device for the day. The only time taken from an IT Member’s or a media specialist’s day is providing the PIN or RFID access. Alternatively, through the use of API, automation rules that work best for your business can be created to help streamline device management for check in check out, break/fix, loaner devices, etc. 

Read more about how to keep working devices in the hands of staff while balancing time, resources and budget 

Seamless Integration of Existing Software

The key feature that allows the FUYL Tower to overcome organisational challenges is our API, which allows seamless integration of existing software and business processes. Incorporate FUYL Towers easily into your existing IT infrastructure with remote access and Tower administration via an Intelligent Management Platform. FUYL Towers are network enabled, and an optional Network Kit can expand network capability to each individual compartment to enable device updates and re-imaging while securely stored within the FUYL Tower.  

To put it simply, because the Tower can communicate with the devices inside, updates can be made remotely. For example, our API allows you to send work orders to specific devices as they sit securely ina locker overnightso your workers are ready to start their day without missing a beat 

If you’re curious how an Intelligent Asset Management System® could integrate into your operational workflow, we’re here to help. LocknCharge exists to make life easier for the users of mobile technology by creating solutions that ensure accessibility and usability of devices at all times. Get in touch with LocknCharge 

Sources

[1] Smart Devices Help ‘Smartify’ Manufacturing Industry – Quality Magazine

[2] Is that an iPad in your warehouse? – Supply Chain Quarterly

[3] How Does Chick-fil-A’s Drive-Thru Move So Fast? – The Chicken Wire

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