Working From Home

Sometimes the unexpected happens. It’s good practice to consider how you and your organisation could operate your systems with no access to you venue or base, and to review these plans regularly. Unfortunately, arts organisations aren’t immune from the impact of major incidents, floods or pandemics, and we’d encourage you to be prepared with some simple steps to help you keep looking after your audiences, sales and staff teams.

In this article we’re going to look at the following areas to consider:

Spektrix is designed to work anywhere, on almost any device, and our staff teams are well practiced at working from home, from trains and from coffee shops as we visit users across the country. If you’re less familiar with home working, it might be worth considering an occasional rehearsal with your colleagues, working through sales, communications or cancellation scenarios offsite.

Technical requirements

There are a few technical considerations you might want to put in place to get the best out of Spektrix and your other software/hardware tools if you find yourself managing systems from home.

Spektrix
Spektrix works best on the Chrome browser, which you can download for free here. You’ll need a decent, secure wifi connection - if you’re going to continue using your casual team to help process phone calls, ask them to do a test transaction or two first.

You can process sales and basic transactions from a phone or tablet, but if it’s likely you’ll be looking at more complicated reports or refunds then a desktop computer will make things easier.

Accessing and logging into Spektrix
Make sure you know your Spektrix login link and have it saved somewhere that you can access remotely. Here’s what you’ll need for this:

  • The Spektrix URL: https://system.spektrix.com/exampletheatre/client/login.aspx
  • Your Spektrix clientname: Instead of exampletheatre make sure you use your organisation’s Spektrix clientname (see here for more information on this)
  • We would recommend you email yourself this link (complete with correct clientname) and, if possible, bookmark it on your home computer/phone/tablet

Your Spektrix system may have IP restrictions, designed to only allow users access from certain computers or locations. Our article on Restricting Access to Spektrix by IP Address explains how to add and remove IP addresses from the list of authorised addresses, and also how to temporarily grant access to certain IP addresses.

  • If you and/or other users are only going to need one-off or short-term access, you’re probably best off setting up temporary authorisation. Be aware, however, that in order to re-grant access after this has elapsed, somebody will need to be granting this from an approved IP each time. For security reasons, Spektrix Support cannot grant access for you
    • Or, if you can arrange with your IT team to use a VPN, you may be able to access Spektrix without needing to change the existing IP restrictions
  • Alternatively, if it looks like you won’t be able to work from your usual location(s) for a longer period of time, you might consider removing IP restrictions entirely until things are back to normal

Other tools and systems
Make sure you have URLs, usernames and passwords to hand for any other key systems, such as your website CMS and dotdigital. It may be worth checking with your local IT team and/or website admins whether you’re likely to need specific browsers or other tools on your home systems

If you have workplace laptops, consider whether you need a rota for taking them home in the evenings and at weekends, especially if you’re aware of a heightened risk in your area. Check that everything works in the same way on your home system as it does in the office.

Communications channels

Make plans for your box office opening hours and communication channels during any potential closure.

Phones
Decide if you’re going to open phone lines at your usual times or restrict opening hours, and who’s going to answer the phones - and don’t forget to record login details for your phone system so you can set up call diverts

  • Most telephone systems which enable queuing or other features will also allow you to divert calls to home landlines or mobiles, sometimes for a small charge
  • Pre-record out of hours answerphone messages, or even a range of them, to activate in different scenarios.

Online
Plan your response to email and social media enquiries. Decide who’s responsible, agree key messaging, and make sure they know when to refer responses to you - all of these conversations can be more complex when you’re not in the same room.

Messaging 

Whatever incident has kept you away from your venue, one of your first steps should be to agree key messaging around your response, and make sure this is shared with everybody who might have a role to play. Agree how you’re going to make this decision if you’re all offsite, and how you’ll contact one another (see below).

Considerations might include:

  • Are any individuals within your own company affected, or can you reassure your most invested audiences that all are safe and well?
  • Do you have a wider message of sympathy, belief or stance regarding the current situation?
  • Your refund policy - and whether you plan to make any exceptions for audiences affected by the situation
  • Some organisations invite audiences to donate all or part of their refund back to the organisation, to accept it as booking credit, or even to gift it to a relevant fundraising appeal. Agree your messaging and how you’re going to share that with audiences - you could even create an emergency fund in advance that you’ll activate in this situation
  • Your response in case any of your decisions are challenged, and how you’ll practically manage sign off or approval of any further messaging
  • How you’ll circulate any later changes to this key messaging

Think about where your messaging will sit, and who’s responsible for it. All staff should be fully briefed, and you should decide whether to contact audiences proactively or wait for them to contact you.  

Some ideas are listed below, some of which can be built in advance, ready for you to add detail and publish them at short notice if ever they’re required:

  • A prominent message on your homepage linked to a dedicated web page, where you can add rolling updates as any incident develops
  • Emails to all audience members attending within the expected time period, proactively informing them of your plans and linking to the web page if appropriate
  • Emails to audiences booked for events further ahead, reassuring them that their tickets remain valid and they’ll be contacted if there’s any change
  • Additional detail in your confirmation emails with similar messaging for customers booking in advance
  • A plan for social media communications - you should expect an increased number of online queries and plan your responses as well as your own output
  • Without access to a ticket printer, you won’t be able to print or issue postal orders. Decide whether all or some of these options might help:
    • Disable this option in the short term, using the Bulk Instance Update Tool
    • Automate a message to anybody ordering postal tickets, telling them there’ll be a delay in delivery
    • Extend your ‘postal exclusions window’ in the Admin interface so that postal tickets only become available for events beyond a specified period of time in the future

Staff teams

Decide what the role of your junior or casual box office team might be during any closure, and how you’ll keep in touch with them. If anyone’s likely to be working from their own home, make sure they’ve checked the compatibility of all of their systems.

Reinforce security etiquette for shared homes, like logging out of the system whenever you leave the screen. Think about a quick daily check-in with key staff by phone or remote meeting, and make sure they know how to reach you if needed.

If you decide not to offer shifts to casual employees in the short term, bear in mind that they will want to stay informed - commit to providing an update at regular intervals, even if that’s just to say that nothing’s changed.

Internal comms

Email Isn't always great at replicating the natural language of the office. At Spektrix we find Slack a great tool to communicate naturally across multiple offices and sites. Other options might be WhatsApp groups, Messenger or numerous other free and paid alternatives.

Ideally, chat to your team about what might work for them, set it up and get in the habit of using it in advance - that way if the situation changes, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

If you’re extending this to a large team, it’s best to avoid tools which rely on sharing individual telephone numbers or social media accounts. Instead look for options which link to work email addresses, allowing your casual staff to keep their personal details private if they wish.

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Following these steps should give you everything you need in order to plan for and implement working from home (or another location). If you have any questions, however, or would like to discuss any of these suggestions in more detail, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team.

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