Working from Home Essentials

working from anywhere

Working from Home Essentials- Plans to Establish Now

In light of recent events, it is obvious the remote work force has grown dramatically. As such, many businesses have been in a panic trying to establish remote work capabilities. Many have never considered a work from home option and now are at a total loss. Others have a few road warriors and are better equipped for some level of work from home capabilities. These working from home essentials will help guide your implementation. So, the burning question, what is needed for a business to allow working from home? How can you transition your staff to still be productive during times of mandatory isolation?

  • Establish Expectations
    Not all tasks can be completed remotely, this is understood. However, file access, database access, collaboration, client contact, are a few of the things possible. With cloud services ever increasing, more and more businesses will have some level remote work capability built in to their current business model.
  • Establish Needs
    So, you have considered what you would like to happen, now, prioritize this. What needs to happen? What services are high priority for employees to access as soon as possible? Some of these may not be readily available to you at the moment but could possibly be established working with your IT provider. Collaborate and ensure expectations for business critical services are within scope.
  • Make your Roadmap
    In the modern home, not everyone has a computer. Many have switched solely to smart phones or tablets, so not everyone has a laptop. Sure, some capabilities may exist for touch devices, but for many office tasks and established needs these may be cumbersome at best. If your staff does not already have laptops for travel, what personal devices are they equipped with? Do you have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place? Can you leverage these devices? Your relationship with your IT provider will be leveraged heavily in working this out with realistic capabilities. Such devices must be sanitized prior to use within the business infrastructure because, the last thing any business wants right now is a malware infestation or data breach.
    Will phones be forwarded to cellular phones? Does your phone system allow for soft phones? Is your phone system based on VoIP so users can take their phone home with them? What limitations will exist within your voice capabilities or how will this work flow change? How will your staff collaborate? Will meetings become emails? Will video conferencing occur? Will chat channels be used for quick collaboration?
  • Establish a Plan
    You’ve established your endpoint devices for your users working from home and what they should be able to access. Now its time to figure out the how are they going to do this? Is a secure vpn an option? Do you leverage remote access tools? What combination of tasks are needed to access resources?
  • Optimize the Paths
    Some homes do not have blazing speeds for web access. With kids being out of schools, ensure bandwidth usage is minimized. Close unnecessary services and personal file sync solutions such as iCloud, Dropbox, etc. Set considerations for online gaming and media streaming as these can heavily saturate slower connection speeds.
    The same goes for the business side. Is your guest network is not limited in bandwidth scope or turned off? Do some staff have personal file sync tools running? Any unnecessary use of bandwidth may need to be eliminated.
  • Train for Changes
    Staff will be making a big adjustment. Some workflow items may be seamless after a few added connectivity steps. But others may not be. Ensure they understand what is on their pc may not be on the server. Productivity expectations may change, but help them understand isolation from distractions can go a long way. Kids, pets, tv, that nagging pile of laundry, all will play a factor in barriers of their focus. They should be comfortable with the procedures needed to effectively connect, work, and disconnect when they are finished.

Remote work is very useful in times such as this, but there is a level of preparation required to ensure that it is optimal for both productivity and security. Do not take lightly the fastest approach because for some businesses it could be disastrous. Leverage an IT provider and discuss business needs and goals and establish the perfect model.

Ryan Stephens 

Senior IT Security Consultant at Upton Technology