Remote Working

Remote Working Image

Remote working relates to the practice of working outside the formal office, be it at home or on the go. It is growing in popularity thanks to societal changes and developments in technology. With the internet, cloud software and smart devices, it’s never been easier to connect and work from anywhere.

In fact, 74% of remote workers believe they are more productive working remotely than they would be in an office environment.

Mastering remote work is all about finding the right tools to stay productive and connected. In this guide, we focus on the technical rather than cultural aspects of working remotely.

Essential Technology for Remote Working

Here are the areas you should consider:

Internet access

A reliable internet connection is essential for effective remote working. Unless you’re frequently sending or receiving large email attachments, an ADSL broadband connection should be capable of handling email and web sites. If you are transferring large files or regularly undertaking video conferencing, fibre optic broadband may be better. This can deliver upload speeds of up to 20Mb.
If your staff are working from home frequently, consider a broadband provider with guaranteed service levels and no limits on data transfer.

Secure remote access

A network server provides a central store for documents and other files. For your staff to log into the server and access files across the internet, set up a virtual private network (VPN). This will give them secure access to your business resources.
Organizations should prohibit remote workers from using public WiFi and shared computers for work-related activities.

Hardware devices for remote working

There are two approaches to providing workers with hardware devices for remote working, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. Workers can use their own devices which is a cheaper and quicker option. However, it does pose greater security risks as company data is stored on personal devices. Alternatively, businesses can issue company-owned devices.

Office 365 – Cloud hosted email and Office apps

Microsoft Office 365 provides all the tools you need to work flexibly and remotely. It gives you access to email, shared calendars, contacts and the full suite of Office applications across a range of devices. Providing you have internet connectivity, you can work from anywhere, anytime, just as if you were in the office.

Document sharing and collaboration

The ability to access, share and collaborate on key documents and files is integral to business productivity. Without it, you risk having multiple versions of the same document and creating confusion. Software such a OneDrive provides online document/file storage to store and access files.
Moreover, a SharePoint team site facilitates collaboration by allowing multiple individuals and teams to work on documents at the same time. Any changes or comments are instantly visible to other users in real time. Many of these products are included within Office 365 Business packages.

Online meetings and Video Conferencing

Meetings are an important part of business. Video conferencing enables remote workers to connect and collaborate with in-office employees in real time. This can speed up decision making, boost productivity and save on travel costs.
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the premium Office 365 subscriptions, is a collaboration and communication suite for Windows users. You can make video and VOIP calls within Teams, message other users and share work from other 365 apps, such as PowerPoint and Excel.

VoIP Telephony

Voice over Internet Protocol cuts communication costs and increases team flexibility. With VoIP, employees can access their office phone calls from anywhere. They can send instant messages, forward calls to mobile phones and teleconference with clients and co-workers. Customers can also reach company employees via the same work phone number, thereby minimising any potential disruption.

Cloud backup and disaster recovery

Keeping critical data safe is paramount so make sure remote workers have access to your backup solutions. Using a Cloud backup service makes it easier for remote workers to backup their data and access backed up data from any location.

Home devices – Employee owed (BYOD)

You may allow your employee to use their own system to work from home, and connect to your company data via Office 365, Egnyte or VPN. This does mean potential risks. Your employees’ machine may not be patched or secure and may even allow a gateway for a security risk into your domain. We recommend that you check that your employee has suitable anti-virus, RMM, patch management and firewall protection, if you have not made provision for this then you need to speak to your account manager. An extra charge for support home machines will apply.

Summary

Whether your employees are looking to work remotely on an occasional or permanent basis, you need to make sure they have the right tools to work productively and securely. In essence, they will need a laptop or computer, a reliable internet connection, secure access to resources and good collaboration and communication tools.
If you are considering implementing remote working and would like any help or advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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