Small businesses are shifting to a remote workforce out of necessity. Here's how your company can make it work long term.


Dell Small Business UK

  • Companies across the globe have been forced into remote-work situations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Though there have been challenges, working from home could become a reality for many companies, especially small businesses because they can be more nimble.
  • Dell Technologies, powered by Intel®, offers many solutions to help improve small businesses’ IT infrastructure.

In mid-March, Germany, like many other countries around the world, told its workers to go home. With the COVID-19 virus tearing through Europe, politicians wanted to quickly shut down offices to avoid the spread of the virus. That meant things like business planning, workplace collaboration, and selling had to take place from employees’ kitchens and living rooms and with whatever technological tools they had lying around their house or were able to carry home.

The abrupt shift to work from home was not easy, including for the country’s more than two million small businesses, in part because people weren’t set up to do long-term remote work.  According to Statista, one-fifth of European workers have said that access to the right equipment has made remote work challenging. At the same time, sales of monitors, computers, and other hardware and software tools have increased significantly.

While the COVID-19 crisis is by no means over, small businesses in Germany and around the world are starting to prepare for a post-pandemic world that inevitably will involve more people working from home. On April 27, Hubertus Heil, Germany’s labor and social affairs minister, announced that he wants to pass a bill that would make working from home a right in the country.

With remote work likely here to stay, companies will need to upgrade their IT infrastructure so their employees can remain productive. Helmut Krcmar, a professor of computer science in economics at the Technical University Munich, says it didn’t take long for people to realize that their home-office infrastructure wasn’t robust enough for daily video conference calls and regular remote work.

“Bad cameras, bad microphones, bad monitors,” notes Krcmar, outlining some of the computer-related problems people have had since the quarantine began. “People need to recalibrate their equipment.”

An equipment upgrade is needed

In many ways, small businesses are better positioned to transition to a more permanent remote workforce than others, says Krcmar. Many are already using cloud-based technology to run their core capabilities, such as customer relationship management software or enterprise resource planning platforms that automate finance and back-office functions. And their employees are likely using company-supplied laptops versus desktop computers. They’re also more agile than larger businesses and can move quickly to add new capabilities. “Smaller companies are nimble and they can upscale their cloud-based systems,” says Krcmar.

However, with working from home becoming more permanent, many small companies, whether they have nine or 99 employees, will still need to upgrade their IT infrastructure to ensure they can maintain their productivity for the long haul.

Here are some ways companies can improve their at-home IT infrastructure.

Increase speed

One place to start is by upgrading a computer or server’s random access memory (RAM). The higher the RAM, the more data applications that can be run on a device at the same time. More RAM can also increase a computer’s speed and performance. Dell’s Smart Value Tower Solutions have different amounts of RAM for a company’s various needs, so it could be a good solution.

Adopt solid-state drives

Computers come with different kinds of hard drives, but for better remote work performance, companies should consider upgrading to solid-state drives (SSD), which perform better than other kinds of hard drives. They’re also faster, lighter, and more energy efficient — and most of Dell’s laptops and computer towers, powered by Intel® Core™ processors, come with these kinds of drives.

Improve remote monitoring 

Small businesses that have an IT person on staff should also look into Idrac 9, which allows a company to remotely monitor, manage, update, troubleshoot, and correct any issues with Dell’s EMC PowerEdge Servers, powered by Intel® Xeon™ processors. With this capability, IT can fix many problems without being in the office.

Use more screens

People have come to realize that their small laptop screen isn’t sufficient for remote work. It’s hard to take notes during a video call when someone’s face takes up most of the screen. Many people are now buying ultrawide monitors, which are essentially two screens in one, so that they can view multiple documents and use a variety of programs at once.

Add accessories

There are a number of other computer-related devices that may need to be upgraded. A wireless keyboard, for example, gives workers more flexibility in how they sit at their desk, a docking station lets people attach multiple cords to their computer, while better headphones can improve audio quality when on video calls.

There are many other IT infrastructure–related upgrades and additions that companies can make, too, including improving their employees’ Internet service by purchasing better at-home WiFi and wireless packages. Overall, people have quickly adapted to their new tech tools, which makes now a good time to improve the home office experience.

 “Learning new technology is not strange anymore,” says Krcmar. “Now companies need to go through the exercise to see what is required to work from home for the long term.”

Find out how Dell can help your small business build its IT infrastructure no matter what location.

This post was created by Insider Studios with Dell Technologies and Intel®.

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