The issues surrounding the use of IT equipment and devices in your company don't finish once you've chosen the right equipment and installed it correctly. Your staff may need IT training to perform the tasks expected of them.
You also need to be aware of the HR, management and legal issues around IT. For instance, you probably need to decide what constitutes acceptable use of your IT, social media and communication devices and communicate this to your staff.
Using IT in your business
There are a few areas you need to think about when planning or reviewing how IT is used in your company:
- Health and safety: computer health and safety issues can affect your company and its employees. As in other areas of business, you have a duty of care towards your staff - and some legal obligations too.
- Appropriate use of IT: although the internet is an important business tool, you will need to set boundaries so your staff understand what constitutes appropriate employee computer use.
- Remote working: technology has changed how we work. Remote, flexible and homeworking is more common - and although there are benefits, you need to think carefully about how to implement it.
You can address many of these issues by setting and implementing IT policies. These help your staff understand how to use IT effectively, as well as explaining any rules regarding inappropriate use of company resources.
In many cases, you need to strike a balance between minimising risk and allowing employees the freedom to work effectively. For instance, some companies block access to social networks like Facebook, whilst others encourage employees to use them for marketing purposes.
Good IT and computer training can help your employees become more comfortable using IT - and less fearful of it. As a result, it can bring a number of benefits to your company:
- everyone in your business will be able to use IT more effectively - so your overall productivity should increase
- staff retention and morale may improve, as employees see you investing in their development
- as your staff learn more about how to use IT, your business can start to use it in new ways
It's important you plan your IT training carefully. Consider how it will help you achieve your business objectives and what the other benefits will be. There is a cost to training - usually in time and money - so always evaluate the return you'll get on this investment.
Remember to consult your staff too. As well as helping your business succeed, IT training plays an important part in their personal development. So, it's important to ask them what they want or need from the training.
When a new employee starts, getting up-to-speed with your IT systems can be one of their biggest challenges. It's important they understand how you use software and cloud services, so they can get up to speed quickly.
Make sure you've covered all the basics before they start. Set up all the user accounts and access permissions they need as well as any equipment they will need such as laptop and smartphone.
It can be helpful to give new employees a trial session so you can identify specific training needs. Make sure any training you identify is completed as soon as possible and check in regularly to see whether any further training is required.
New employees can be hit with a barrage of information during their first weeks. Make sure they have key information in a written or electronic form. For example, a list of URLs for things like your company intranet, helpdesk, support documentation, commonly used apps, security procedures and so on. Make sure they know who to approach for IT support, too.
Training can be carried out in-house, externally or online. The method that is right for your business will depend on the number of staff that need training and what type of training you need.
Finally, spend your training budget effectively. For instance, if you need something done as a one-off, it generally makes sense to pay a professional to do it for you rather than training up a member of staff.