Growth in a small business is often a double-edged sword. Growth means more money coming in, but it also means more resources are required to manage and maintain successful operations. An increase in workload and changes to your business model will likely bring you to a point requiring you to hire or replace folks. These new costs can seem difficult to nail down especially when it comes to bringing on remote workers. This change has the potential to save business owners money (as we outlined in our previous blog Going Remote: Is It a Good Fit for Your Business?) but it can also be a daunting step to take when unfamiliar with what should go into budgeting for it. Fortunately, we’re here to help you take the leap and expand your workforce using remote resources while maximizing your budget as your business changes and hopefully grows! Whether you are looking into hiring new people or simply allowing your current employees to spend time working from home, we can help you figure out the actual cost to you.
There are several things that you need to consider differently as a business owner when looking into hiring remote employees rather than hiring for your brick and mortar office space. Budgeting for new employees doesn’t just mean considering their salary or hourly pay. It’s important to consider the technical cost of adding personnel to your team. This can include things like internet and phone connections, workstations with phones and computers, security measures (such as firewalls and VPNs), communications channels (think conference calling capabilities and additional email accounts), access to data (shared or private), and more depending on the individual needs of your business. This list may seem overwhelming, but at a closer look it is all manageable, especially with the potential savings that can come with remote employees!
Let’s break a couple of these down further.
Computer: From a technical perspective, providing your remote worker with a laptop so they can work from home or at the office is currently the easiest path for small businesses regarding security and other technical hurdles. This solution, however, starts at about $1,000 and goes up. You might consider a different path such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies. These can be implemented to save you the cost of purchasing a computer, but you will still need to invest in security just as you would for your in-office employees. A couple of things to consider to ensure that your team is able to work together smoothly would be a good file sharing solution as well as providing employees with a webcam and a headset so they can participate in video calls.
Phone: In our experience we have found that VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) solutions or the ability to send calls to cell phones can work well for helping people stay connected from outside the office. There are many communication methods and features available to you. Our system lets us schedule video calls, receive and send faxes virtually, text, and much more! The cost for set up this type of system varies. Once set up, monthly per user costs range from $18-$30, depending on services and features. BYOD policies could save you a lot of money in this process as well. Having a virtual telephone system that can redirect calls to a cell phone and/or application on the computer instead of having a physical office phone, could save you up to $200/phone for the unit alone. Many VOIP providers also include phones in your monthly cost per user model so that may be worth looking at as well.
Securing the workspaces for remote workers isn’t so different from securing those of in-office employees. Making sure your data is protected functions much the same. You should:
- have strong password policies in place
- provide protections such as antivirus and firewalls
- secure data transferring methods
- implement multifactor log-ons
One of the best defenses against cybersecurity threats is making sure your employees are well informed of the potential threats and the best practices to avoid them. Developing strong security policies they can be taught and continually reference is helpful whether your employees are remote or come into the office every day.
Allowing people to work remotely will require a couple of extra security measures such as a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and a method of remotely erasing devices should they be lost or stolen. VPNs help keep your network secure and harder to break into even as your workforce is spread out geographically. Small businesses can get them for around $10-$20 a month. Remote wipe programs can be paid for on a monthly or yearly basis and allow you to ensure that you are only out the cost of the hardware lost and not the security of your data.
These days, most businesses have already had to implement some remote working procedures. Going forward, the focus of how to do it correctly and how to set and maintain good habits in the coming months should be considered and reviewed. As a company that has been there and done that—not only for our business, but for 1000’s of end users —we assure you, you don’t have to go at this alone. Give us a call if you want to talk through some of what lies ahead for you as your business changes and grows.