Remote Working

Remote Worker - Computer Troubleshooters24 Mar 2020

Remote Working from a Technology Perspective.

Covid-19 has changed the way we work now and probably into the future, the Remote worker will be here to stay. What does this mean for businesses now and into the future from a technology viewpoint?

While workers will look for this flexibility moving forward many businesses will need to think how they can use technology effectively to ensure they have a productive workforce that faces minimal disruption from technology blips.

Strategically a business needs to focus on the deploying the right technologies to support their worker and the functions they undertake.

3 Key Elements

What are the 3 key elements to ensuring your workforce can continue working remotely? The starting issue is ensuring Connectivity. Without connectivity you cannot work remotely. The second element Communication this is about ensuring everybody stays in contact and the ability to engage with each other and clients. The final element is Collaboration. The ability to work together on the same documents, having access to files etc. in a secure environment

Office 365 - enables Collaboration

A key element is having the right software platform to enable collaboration across the team.

Software options such as Microsoft 365 or Google's G-Suite will be at the core of how businesses communicate, access documents, collaborate with co- workers through sharing files, storing files, combined with an integrated email.

The adoption of these technologies has been high but there are many businesses yet to understand the benefits. Given a remote working from home workforce is distributed far and wide, one benefit of Office 365 is the comfort that everybody will be using the same version of the software.

A secondary advantage is that the fee is on a monthly basis charged by number of users which means you only pay for what you are using. This allows businesses to scale up and down as required. This provides businesses greater flexibility and control over its cash flow. You are not paying for something that is not being used.

Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoTo meeting - enable Communication

Many choices are available for conducting virtual meetings each has its own specific benefits but the key goal here is to have a platform and then provide people with the guidance on how to run effective virtual meetings.

This technology also enables your team members to socially interact though informal meetings. They can use their normal social media tools such as What’s app, Facebook messenger etc. to create sense of social connection.’

The communication solution also needs to cover voice and email solutions. Having a virtual PABX solution hosted in the Cloud can ensure that phone calls can be directed to the right people inside the business. The email solution is part Office 365 which has also a capacity for you to share and store files using One drive and SharePoint.

Just putting the technology in place will not necessarily guarantee success there is a need to build culture and create understanding between team members. A suggestion is to create some tasks/projects that need completing by a team using the above tools within a common framework.

Connectivity - Remote Connections, Security, Support

The last element is connectivity, this means having an internet connection to access the software and tools for the remote worker to be able to perform their work. It is as basic as that. However, the internet connection needs to be stable and quick enough for home workers to complete tasks. This means considerations re bandwidth, upload/download speeds need to be looked at. It may mean switching plans so they can do operate effectively. Wi-Fi is so predominant today there may be a need check the configuration make changes such as adding Wi-Fi boosters to ensure stable and reliable performance.

With connectivity comes some clear concerns for a business owner, such as how secure is it in terms of being hacked, backing up data and email securely so there can be no data breach, and what happens if the connection becomes slow and unresponsive in other words what type of support does a business need?

Let’s start with support, with home workers it is very important that a business ensures they have proactive management of their equipment and networks. What does this mean? Simply put don’t run the risk of anything breaking by ensuring you ae constantly monitoring and maintaining the environment.

This includes such things as ensuring all devices are regularly updated with the latest versions of the software (patch management) ensuring that all security elements are operating and functional, ensuing data is backed up correctly in accordance with your policies. That passwords are managed and updated regularly, that user access is managed correctly as people come and go from the business and the list goes on. IT people call this Managed Services.

In addition to the proactive management of employee devices It is essential that employees can call someone if something unexpected happens (like a disc failure, network connection failure, etc.) This may require a person to be onsite. The preference of most IT providers will be to undertake all tasks remotely using a remote tool such as TeamViewer or LogMeIn. These tools give your support person secure, full control and access to your employee’s equipment. Its efficient and fast and means disruption is kept to a minimum.

Finally, the last aspect is to consider how you use some software to create a VPN (Virtual private network) which ensures your communication is encrypted and protected from prying eyes. This is extremely important when working from home.

This article is not exhaustive, but it explains why you it is essential to work with an experienced IT group such as Computer Troubleshooters. With a national network of location’s, no matter where your team is, we can support them to ensure they maintain their productivity while working from home.

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Computer Troubleshooters New Zealand acknowledge our kind Australian colleagues for the development of this article.