Transitioning You and Your Staff to Working from Home
While working remotely has been on the upswing in recent years, no one has seen such widespread interest and uptake like that of the past few weeks -- starting with the stay-at-home orders in March. Since that time we (Exigent Systems) have helped our clients pivot to having their staff work from home full time.
Organizations with more mature remote access policies and work-from-home cultures made the transition with fewer growing pains, but each and every one is now operating with similar output to pre-pandemic times with their staff safe at home. Yours can too.
I thought the About Redlands community might benefit from some recommendations as you pivot to more remote work. Here are a few:
Convenience and reliability are key
We’re all feeling a bit stressed these days, and tech troubles are one of the last things you need. Consider how the tools and processes you’re using to work remotely, and how they might be improved to be more convenient or reliable. This will pay off in efficiencies, even post-pandemic.
There’s no substitute for reliable wifi and internet. You can have great wifi at your home without spending a fortune, though you’ll want to look away from the usual residential offerings and towards equipment designed for commercial use like Ubiquiti and Meraki. Our clients are often surprised at what a difference good equipment makes, even when they previously had “full signal” wifi around their house. Apart from that, trying plugging directly into your router if all else fails; wireless will never be as reliable as a cable.
For those with less reliable internet service at their homes, a cellular hotspot may be a suitable alternative. Performance varies and data usage may be a concern, but cellular providers are forgoing data caps for hotspots in some cases. Ask your account representative.
Consideration like reliability, along with security (more on this below), are top-of-mind when we make design client systems for remote or work from home scenarios. It is possible to go remote full-time in a secure, reliable, convenient manner with the right tools and expertise.
Free tools can be an OK place to start for small organizations…
For very small offices, you may only need one or two computers accessible remotely. Tools like TeamViewer are free for personal use right now and are easy to use. Expect to be nagged for future payment (there’s no free lunch in the end) and read the fine print. Some applications won’t run as smoothly as they did when you were at your office desk, and tasks like printing and moving files around may be inconvenient. However, in a pinch these tools aren’t a terrible option.
Do set a strong password regardless of what product you choose; bad actors are taking advantage of these tumultuous times and no organization is too small to be a target.
… but better remote access options are available
Staying connected to your key LOB (line of business) applications, printing, native file access, centralized storage and management, strong security, and logging of staff activity are desirable features that can be delivered with today’s modern tools. A trustworthy VPN deployment and well-planned Remote Desktop or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure offers you and your staff their complete “in office” experience from wherever they’re at in the world and lets them work from any PC, Mac, or mobile device.
If your business would benefit from such capabilities even in a post-pandemic environment, you can expect investments in technology and processes to pay off when the economic environment picks up. Personally, I expect to leverage the time savings and expanded staffing options that WFH (work from home) offers and I think we’ll see employees expect more WFH opportunities moving forward.
Don’t ignore security!
We’re seeing a substantial increase in the threat level our clients are facing. Don’t sacrifice security for short term convenience, even the very near term with the expectation that “I’ll fix it later” and find your business compromised by hackers or malware. Downtime is disruptive to your business and recovery is expensive in terms of both time and money. With modern tools you don’t need to sacrifice security for speed, reliability, or convenience.
Ask a question or get a free second opinion
If you’re a business owner, office manager, or anyone involved in operations, know that despite these extraordinary times, there has never been more resources or better tools for working remotely, be it from home or elsewhere. I’m offering free consultations via Zoom, answering your remote work questions or offering a second opinion on what technology you have in place now. My staff and I have deployed secure remote access for teams ranging in size from 2 to 500 across various industries since day 1 and there’s a great solution out there for just your situation. If you could benefit from some free, no obligation IT advice, let me know a few times that might work from you in the next day or two. Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dustin Hoffman is owner and president at Exigent Systems Inc., a full-service enterprise IT services firm since 2005 and a Microsoft Silver Partner. With offices in Redlands and clients across the US, they’re a long-time About Redlands client.