We’ve all been changing our management models to accommodate more workers from home. We’ve heard from experts and consultants that advised us on the best practices for keeping our people as productive as possible while they’re out of the office. We’ve also been told to invest in the right technologies to make all of this possible. But which specific technologies are essential for a successful work-from-home model? Here are the five that your employees must have.

A decent laptop

Not a tablet. Not a smartphone. Not an old PC with the kids’ games on it. I mean a good, reliable laptop. It should be less than three years old. It should have a large screen—13 inches or larger. It should have a good webcam, speakers and microphone. Of course, there are many fine computer manufacturers that sell these things, and you can even pick up excellent models on Craigslist or eBay. But make sure employees are using a later model and if necessary, provide an allowance to help them do this. The faster and more glitch-free the device, the more productive employees will be

A managed services platform

For a work-from-home model to be successful, your company has to buy into the cloud. That means taking all of your applications, databases, files and documents and having them stored with a reliable, third-party, managed-services provider—like Right Networks. This way your people can access whatever they need from wherever they are and get the support for any device they’re using. You’ll be assured that your data is backed up and running on secure servers. You’ll know that any changes that are made can be shared by everyone almost immediately. When an outside company does this for you, it has the staffing and resources to keep things running while your office is closed.

A complete and accurate CRM system

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is essential for tracking activities, notes, orders, history, forecasts, marketing campaigns, services issues, tasks and other critical details about your customers, prospects and other key members of your community. Today’s great cloud-based systems like Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho and others provide a shared database where your employees can all be on the same page about the people you’re doing business with, whether they’re working from home or anywhere else. As your employees are now spread out, you can use your CRM system’s workflows and automation to make sure members of your community receive updates and information to keep them close to your company. But just remember, this is a database, and it will only be as good as the completeness and accuracy of the data in it.

A strong collaboration/communication application

Your employees will need the best tools possible for email, chat, messaging, phone calls and video conferences. They will want an easy way to share files and communicate what they’re doing with customers and projects. They will want to continue to conduct business as if they’re in the office while at the same time ensuring that supervisors and other members of their team can stay up to date on what they’re doing. That’s why all remote workforces need a good collaboration/communication application, such as Microsoft Office, Google G Suite, Slack, Box or Zoom, among others. Used properly, these applications can literally make it seem that your work-from-home employees are not working from home at all.

Tight security

With so many people working from home and so many businesses dealing with the disruption, a great opportunity has been created for hackers. Just think about it: some networks aren’t built for remote workers and many remote workers have older, out-of-date devices. This is a critical issue that has to be addressed by your IT team. That means ensuring that all remote workers are running security software like MalwareBytes, Kaspersky or AVG. It means they are updating their operating systems on their devices. It also means building a tighter security protocol, documenting procedures and stepping up access with two-factor authentication, and even biometrics like fingerprints and eye scans. Security isn’t just one technology; it’s many. But having the right security technologies in place will ensure that your work-from-home employees are creating a potential data breach or some other disaster.

We have enough disasters as it is, right?

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