When nominations roll in for 2020's "Buzz Term of the Year" you can expect "Remote Working" to be on the short list.
It will, however, be a crowded field, with "Social Distancing", "Contact Tracing" and "Flattening the Curve" among the early favourites.
The ability to work from home had been regarded by many as a perk for the elite, the lucky minority who had been granted the privilege of working flexibility. COVID-19 changed everything. Workers everywhere were forced, virtually overnight, to work from home if it was humanly possible.
Just as suddenly, managers and IT staff around the globe were tasked with making it possible.
Some Home Truths about Home Working
Working from home has suddenly taken on a whole new meaning, so let's get some perspective.
We're not talking about shooting off a couple of emails before bed. We're not talking about the occasional Sunday afternoon at the kitchen table preparing for a Monday meeting back in the office. We're talking about home replacing, and becoming, the office. How do we make that work?
Technology is clearly a key enabler for productive remote working, but for many the biggest barriers will be cultural.
The most powerful software available will be of little use unless you have the basics sorted:
Home Office Setup...and Mindset: The need for fast, reliable and secure connectivity is a given. An ergonomic chair and a good desktop setup, preferably in a separate room, are not far behind.
- Just as important is a mindset that allows you to switch off from domestic matters and put yourself into work mode once you step into that space.
For remote workers...making a mental separation from a sometimes-chaotic home life is tough. Workers are finding that they don’t have the skills to be successful in an extended remote environment, from networking to creating routines that drive productivity.
McKinsey & Company
- Time-based to Task-based thinking: In some cases, practical considerations make remote working impossible. In others, a reluctance to support it can flow from a lack of trust. (How can I tell that you are putting in the hours if I can't see you?)
A challenge for some workers will be self-motivation, especially for those who have been used to working with one eye on the clock. Similarly, the struggle for some managers will be to start measuring the value of their staff not by hours spent on the job, but by the quality of their work.
There’s ample research showing that virtual teams can be completely equal to co-located ones in terms of trust and collaboration. It just requires discipline.
Tsedal Neeley, Harvard Business School
Once you've found your own way of overcoming those not insubstantial obstacles, we can start talking about business software.
Companies need to increase communication...they also need to change working norms, making remote work practical and simple whenever possible.
McKinsey & Company
Orchid Products supporting Remote Working
All of Orchid's Sage 300 add-ons are designed to increase productivity, but the following can prove especially useful when it comes to providing better support for remote workers.
You'll find many more examples of how these products can be used in the various resources linked to from this page.
- Notes facilitates the sharing of relevant information between Sage 300 users in different locations. Context-sensitive Notes (plain text, formatted rich text, hyperlinks, small images) are associated with specific field values and/or screens, and automatically displayed. E.g. display notes related to a particular Customer, or procedural notes to assist with data entry for a specific screen.
- Document Management Link (DML) supports paperless, context-sensitive access to relevant documents from Sage 300. E.g. Upload digital copies of Invoices, Purchase Orders, Contracts, Product Specs, emails etc. to a shared network server or cloud-based repository and make them visible to any user who opens a related Sage 300 screen.
- EFT Processing removes the need for physical signatures and trips to the post office. Generate electronic funds transfer (EFT) files for your Sage 300 payments, ready for uploading to your banking software. (The processing of A/R Receipts by EFT is also supported.)
- Extender can be configured to monitor sensitive Sage 300 data and trigger email alerts to remote users when exception events occur. Use of Extender scripts can take this further, e.g. by using SMS or Microsoft Teams for notifications. Extender Workflow can also support robust business processes, e.g. auditable approval of Accounts Payable batches without admin and executive staff needing to be co-located.
- Remote Action takes mobility to another level, allowing you to securely progress Extender Workflows from any internet-connected device, without needing to be logged in to Sage 300.
- Info-Explorer is Orchid's affordable Business Intelligence (BI) tool. Cubes can be distributed by email to multiple team members for 'slice & dice' analysis, with drill-through to the underlying Sage 300 records.
- Process Scheduler can be used to automatically trigger critical business processes (e.g. backups, integrity checks) without your support staff needing to be on site. It can also execute reports, or refresh Info-Explorer cubes, and automatically distribute them by email.