What does WFH mean?

Employees today are dealing with new realities having experienced our shared COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, COVID has meant a loss or suspension of many jobs. However, many of us are fortunate to be able to continue working from an alternate location, namely our own homes. Such home-based work goes by many terms that have changed over the years. Terms you likely have heard already include “Teleworking”, “Satellite Working”, “Remote Working” and “Working-from-Home” among others. This latter term has recently become the most popular, shortened to the simple acronym WFH.

Obviously, Working-From-Home (WFH) isn’t practical for many types of organizations. Such as when it comes to things like manufacturing, the use of specialized equipment or construction. However, those that deal primarily with Intellectual Property (IP) or documents and data can easily adopt a WFH strategy. Businesses especially suited to WFH include accounting, sales, design, engineering and writing. These services often only need simple communication tools to accomplish many of the daily work tasks. Basic tools include a smartphone, Internet access, a (notebook) computer or even just a tablet. However ordinary these tools may be though, operation in a business context from home can present some special challenges.

The WFH Challenge

The tools that remote workers have at their homes may be very common. But, often the corporate information the homeworker needs access to is special and stored centrally at their office headquarters. Even relatively harmless information such as schedules or contacts may be kept at central offices rather than with the worker. Therefore, companies must typically provide access to centralized data for the teleworker to accomplish their tasks. Unfortunately, this can present challenges.

Information that a company compiles is one of its most valuable resources. Accordingly, they must ensure that their data is absolutely secure. Too often, tools that a person has at their home are terribly insecure to entrust with an organization’s precious data. Most companies would be horrified to know that a teenager’s gaming computer was being used to access the corporate network. That’s why a responsible company will take great efforts to specially equip its WFH staff. These efforts often include either dedicated equipment or implementing special security systems and software to guarantee safety for the company and the worker.

A WFH Strategy Needed

For example, you may have seen friends or peers with two smartphones or separate home and work computers. Their company has chosen to isolate corporate data access to only specific devices; only dedicated tools. On the other hand, workers from other organizations may have the flexibility to use their personal iPhone, tablet and Windows notebook computer. But these then need to follow certain procedures and prescribed steps to access their company resources.

There is no right or wrong choice between these two methods. Each method requires its own strategy and expense. Yet, either option will protect the company and the home worker. The only wrong WFH choice for a company to make is to not take any precautions. Leaving the choice up to at-home workers to figure out on their own is not fair to the worker and it’s dangerous for the company.

Regardless of whether we are WFH by circumstance or by choice, working from home can have many benefits. Corporations and workers can benefit from many improvements to financial, physical and emotional well-being. However, as with all things, balance is necessary. Smart companies have smart home workers and make working from home an opportunity to benefit each other. Certainly, all of us want to make the best of the situation we’re now in.