Recent developments in the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) have necessitated the urgent transition to a remote workforce for many businesses. Current regulations in and out of the U.S. range from recommendations to limit social contact to government-mandated quarantines.
Even if businesses in your area haven’t yet been required to stop operations at their physical locations, it is wise to do everything possible to enable a remote workforce now as a precautionary measure against both future spread of disease and in case of stricter quarantine regulations.
To enable your employees to work remotely, you first need the technology capabilities that allow your company to stay connected and access data files, no matter where they are.
Tools and Planning for Remote Working
Here are a few IT tools and strategies your business may require in order to operate remotely:
A Strong and Secure Network Infrastructure
To work remotely, employees need to have access to adequate equipment to keep them connected, both to the team and to essential data and systems. A strong and secured network infrastructure that’s optimized for remote access is the first necessity in enabling this setup.
To function remotely, your business will need the following tools for your network:
- A proficient firewall and router: A virtual private network (VPN) allows your employees to access a private network remotely by encrypting your data as it travels between your machine and the internet. But you will need a strong firewall to create a barrier between your private network and the Internet in order to protect your data. A router that is enabled for VPN will also allow you to route traffic optimized for VPNs. A VPN-optimized router isn’t too different from a regular router, but it is essential that you have a router that can handle your increased remote traffic.
- Adequate Internet Bandwidth: When working remotely, your business will likely be transferring large amounts of data. If your bandwidth is too small, your speed and productivity will slow significantly. This also holds true for your staff’s home network connections, as powerful Wifi signals and capability will provide the best experience for extended remote work.
- VPN Client Licensing: You’ll need to ensure that each device, or client, has the proper licensing to connect to your network. VPNs are generally licensed per client machine, so the number of remote workers and machines you have will affect the price you pay.
- Higher security: With an outbreak like we see today also comes an increase in cyberthreats in the form of phishing emails, social engineering scams, and increased network attacks. If personal devices are used in providing remote access to staff, ensuring that those home devices also have the same security protections enabled on them as you do on company devices will give your organization the best protection for your corporate data.
- Hosted collaboration software: Products like Microsoft Office 365, Google Hangouts, and Zoom will allow your staff to easily stay in touch during this extended time away from the office.
Cloud applications are web-enabled, meaning instead of relying on physical hardware or devices, they are hosted by a provider and accessible virtually over the Internet. Using cloud-hosted systems for your storage will allow you to access data remotely and securely.
Remote Desktop Services
Remote desktop services (or RDS) allow you to take control of another remote device over a network connection. They limit or eliminate the necessity of physical proximity for applications to be installed, instead allowing for tasks including remote installation of applications, screen-sharing and access to advanced or secure applications from machines with limited operations.
What You Can Do Immediately
While some of these other remote working solutions take more time and planning to implement, there are a few solutions you can take advantage of immediately to help ensure your team can collaborate effectively while working remotely:
With the right software, you can create a virtual office that allows your employees to communicate seamlessly even without being in physical proximity. Tools such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, and Zoom give you options for messaging, video conferencing and audio calling between teams and channels all with one application. A Managed Service Provider such as Middleground Technologies can direct you to the right tools and applications that will best meet your needs.
A Strategic Plan
A strategic plan transcends the hardware and software immediately at your disposal, and it is perhaps the most important point on this list. COVID-19 and the worldwide response to the virus are affecting many aspects of life, as well as your business. While you may be in emergency mode responding to the issues currently at hand, now is the time to be thinking about future repercussions as well and planning for how you and your staff will respond to them.
What effects will the outbreak be having on your business in the coming months, and how can you structure your business’s operations now to have the best chances of success in the future? Having a plan can help you outline your future goals and prepare for other unexpected situations that might occur.
Work with Middleground Technologies
Unfortunately, in this time of immediate crisis, many companies find themselves coming up short-handed when it comes to accessing technology resources because their IT service providers can’t give them the full range of remote services and resources they need to set up remote work stations.
At Middleground, we can prepare your company with all the resources you need to work remotely. We can help you implement these tools and strategize with you as you transition smoothly to a remote workforce. We understand that this is a difficult circumstance for your business, staff and customers, which is why we are dedicating ourselves to being your IT partner as you navigate new challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The current situation doesn’t have to cost you business or productivity if you can set up your team for remote work and communication.Contact our experts today to get your systems optimized for remote work.