Ah, sweet summertime. Firing up the grill, watching some baseball, maybe hitting the links or taking a dip in the pool and…going back to work on Monday and doing the same thing you did all Winter long.
In the United States, there is no such thing as a summer break from the real world. Despite the all-American work ethic, employee engagement naturally declines during the summer months. Unless they’re trapped in a windowless room, the bright sunlight shining through the office windows can knock employees off their game and get them dreaming of all the things they would rather be doing during the workday.
An infographic presented by Shift Planning details the Summertime Slump to a staggering degree. Their study found that during the summer months:
- It takes 13% longer to complete projects
- Productivity drops 20%
- Attendance drops 18%
- 45% of workers feel more distracted
- 51% more employees take extended lunch breaks
- 63% of employees socialize more with coworkers
The “Summer Fridays” Work from Home Solution to the Summertime Blues
One way employers try to combat the decrease in productivity is by offering a “Summer Fridays” program that allows employees to work from home on Fridays between May and August.
Employees that enjoy Summer Fridays reap several psychological benefits:
- They can sleep in an extra hour and wear pajamas
- They don’t have to deal with traffic
- They can hang out with their pets
- They can open the windows or work outside
For some, these benefits alone can go a long way in refreshing the mind during the dog days of summer.
What an IT Department Needs to Do to Make Summer Fridays Happen
There is a lot of work that has to happen behind the scenes to keep companies that allow working from home running on Summer Fridays.
If an employee doesn’t have access to their email or the important files they need, they’re not working. It’s as simple as that.
From an IT perspective, the following steps need to be taken to ensure successful implementation of a Summer Fridays program:
1. Set up VPN Access for Employees
To make any work from home ideas possible, your employees need Virtual Private Network (VPN) access. This ensures your employees have access to the same files they would have in the office. If you utilize the cloud for network storage, that makes WFH even easier. For small businesses, solutions like Drop Box can make file access simpler.
2. Make Sure Employees Have Access to Their Email
This seems like a no-brainer, but for those used to coming into the office and using Outlook as a desktop app, some may not even know how to access their email from home. Outlook users can access their email online on Office 365 with a password login and employees working from home should have their email account on their mobile devices as well.
3. Utilize Instant Messaging
A solution like Slack or Skype for Business (built into Windows 10) is perfect for communicating with coworkers on-the-go – and for the nosey administrator, it’s easy to keep tabs on whether or not an employee is at their computer.
4. Take Advantage of Microsoft 365 Subscriptions
While many people have the Microsoft Office suite on their personal computers in some capacity, not everyone does. With Office 365 for email, employees who have an account can download the entire office suite for free on their personal computer.
Not having Word, PowerPoint or Excel is no longer an excuse. Get a solid understanding of all programs your employees use on a daily basis and ensure they have the proper licensing in place to have these programs on their personal machines.
5. Have a Policy in Place
It doesn’t matter how lax or cumbersome your work-from home policy is. In 2016, you simply need to have one. The same goes for bring-your-own-device policies that govern how employees access work data on their personal devices. Make sure your employees have access to the files they need, and ensure they are working on a secure connection.
Get everything on paper and have employees sign your policy so there is never a question about what goes and what doesn’t.
A policy should include:
- Information about your cyber security and data policy
- Employee eligibility requirements and office rules still in place
- Conditions and expectations of the employee
- Information about use of company issued equipment
Need Help Analyzing Your IT Needs? Contact ThrottleNet Today
ThrottleNet is a full service Managed IT provider and consultant in the St. Louis area. We know just as well as you do how hot it gets in the Midwest and how productivity suffers during the summer (especially when the Cardinals are playing well.) Thinking about giving your employees Summer Fridays? Let us help make sure your IT Department is ready for them. Contact us today to learn how!