Virtualized Office

Can Your Business Quickly Support Remote Work?

As the world modernizes, more companies are having employees work remotely. Is your business prepared if most staff suddenly need to work from home?

Some companies provide laptops so workers can easily connect from anywhere. If you have 10 or fewer employees, buy laptops to enable remote work access. Larger companies can use cloud computing services to launch a remote desktop system fast without buying new hardware.

The key is making sure remote access is secure. Use multi-factor authentication and configure firewalls to maintain data protections for any external login. Because staff will use their own internet connections, bandwidth on your side is less critical. But confirm everyone has adequate broadband speeds for smooth access.

Options for Enabling Remote Work

Method 1:Build a Digital Foundation Confirm that remote employees have reliable internet connectivity and speed. Provide hardware like company laptops, VoIP phones, or thin client terminals depending on security needs. Supply webcams and helpful accessories too.

  • Internet access. The assumption that workers have adequate online access at home or elsewhere is important.
    Some workers may not have reliable or fast enough service or only a mobile device.
    Quickly survey or otherwise gather data from the workers included in your remote work strategy and determine if there are any gaps.

One of the largest blind spots is in knowing how much bandwidth workers will need to be optimally productive, and quickly assessing this early will pay dividends. Remote workers, especially at first, often have to sync their files and data. For some industries, this could be a lot of rich media and data that has to go back and forth regularly. How fast it goes will determine remote work productivity. More significantly, the types of applications that are used regularly, especially the use of VOIP phones are bandwidth intensive.

Finally, ensure you have a clearly articulated remote work policy along with a plan, communications program, budget, training, and support for ensuring sufficient internet access wherever the worker will be working remotely. Preparing quick start guides, are a big help to limit the initial learning curve of any new tools or technologies. Organizing power users to support new remote workers, answer questions, and share techniques is also a big help. Normally all of this is part of an overall remote work program, but may be separate depending on who is responsible for providing different services inside your organization.

  • Remote work devices. There are two choices when it comes to devices:
    • Workers can use their own, which is a bigger security risk, but quite a bit cheaper and faster to deploy if their devices are up to the task, or
    • A company can provide the devices that are needed such as a VOIP phone or a computer or thin client.

What devices do you need? Presumably one smartphone and one computer or tablet, plus any internet access hardware. But your specific business requirements will dictate what is needed. In addition, when providing a superior remote work strategy, there are a number of accessories that can greatly improve the experience, with minimal cost. These include:

  • A webcam for web conferencing, if the worker's base computing device does not have one. 720P is the minimum acceptable resolution for quality results, which is standard with most webcams.
  • A network pc or laptop or a thin client
  • VOIP phones where needed

Secure remote access to business assets and online services. Typically this is provided by a virtual private network (VPN) solution, which sits on the PC, laptop, or mobile device and creates an encrypted network connection that makes it safe for the worker to access IT resources within the organization and elsewhere on the Internet or other networks. This can be a hardware VPN or with a software VPN that will connect to the secure gateway.

In general, the worker should never do any work for the organization without the VPN on their device(s) being turned on. This includes online services on the internet. This is because the VPN ensures a higher level of security and safety between the remote worker and the service.

It's important to note that the VPN will be the single most important link in your remote work chain, so ensure your solution works on most target devices, works reliably. Be sure to test all the service providers, devices, and locations to be used at the very least, and ensure performance is sufficient.

The reality is that your IT department should have worked through a number of these issues and will likely have a working remote access solution using VPN, including a policy and support. But as you ramp up to a wider variety of workers and greatly increase the numbers working from afar, you'll have to make sure that your core remote work foundation is truly up to the task, including acquiring enough licenses for all the intended workers.

Method 2:Enable Access to Tools Give remote access to key software for productivity (Office 365), business systems (CRM, ERP), intranet resources, and collaboration apps (Outlook, Slack). Usage is similar to being in-office.

In general, you can count on the usage of business applications remotely to be about the same as when the worker was in the office.

Remote work relies much more on digital communications and especially modern workforce collaboration tools such as team chat (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, etc), unified communications/instant messaging solutions, as well as business mainstays like e-mail, phone, and web conferencing/meeting tools like GoToMeeting.

Method 3:Develop Remote Work Skills Working remotely is fundamentally different. Communication and team visibility suffers without face time. Digital tools help but take effort. Training and manager support eases remote transition.

With urgent coronavirus planning, use these tips to swiftly equip your company for large-scale remote work capabilities if required. Contact us to evaluate readiness or implement secure telecommuting solutions.