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Get your staff out of the office

Wednesday, May 04, 2011   By Mike Reddy


Your bookkeeper calls in one morning to say her son is sick and can’t go to school. She will have to stay home and look after him.

In some businesses that would mean writing off the productivity of that employee for the day with possible knock-on effects for meetings, projects or appointments. What if the employee could still contribute at least half a day to get crucial work completed? Or they might want to avoid using up a day of leave?

Every business-grade router (the box that controls your computer network) and even many consumer routers have the ability to create an encrypted private connection to a computer outside the network.

This connection is called a virtual private network, better known by its acronym VPN, and it is a basic feature that can give your employees the opportunity to work remotely.

If an employee has broadband internet access at home they can type in the co-ordinates for the VPN, including username and password, and create a connection. The employee can then see all the files as if they were accessing the server from their desk in the office.

Raise productivity, employee satisfaction and customer service.

VPNs are really useful for several reasons. They are free to set up and operate; they are highly secure thanks to strong encryption; and they can be accessed from anywhere with a broadband internet connection.

The latter is particularly significant. It means you no longer need to run back to the office to check a file. Just log into your VPN and look it up. Sales staff can check the latest figures from their hotel room or even from their car if they have internet access via the mobile phone network. And team members who are stuck at home, because of family matters, heavy traffic or stormy weather, can still log in and complete a full day’s work.

The upshot is your business is more productive, your staff will be grateful for the flexibility and your customers will appreciate the fact that, even when you are in their offices, information to help close a sale is only a couple of clicks away.

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.