by Kevin Steeprow
In 2020, many businesses have the technology in place to allow its workers to be productive outside the office. In fact, 54% U.S. of workers work remotely at least once a month, and 66% of companies allow remote work. However, there’s a big difference between supporting a work-from-home policy and preparing an entire workforce to be remote for an indefinite period of time. And that’s exactly the position companies find themselves in as the coronavirus concerns become widespread and social distancing becomes the norm.
What do companies need to do to ensure business continuity in the face of a global pandemic?
Determine needs: Consider the functionality your employees may need, such as phones, conferencing, collaboration tools, file storage, and essential business applications. Are they already cloud-based, or do they need to be migrated to the cloud with a managed workload? Are employees using corporate laptops, or do you need to move to a Desktop-as-a-Service or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure in a Virtual Private Cloud? Your company’s particular needs can drive decisions on accessibility, flexibility and mobility.
Shore up infrastructure: If workers need utilize a VPN to access critical files, make sure your company has enough VPN licenses to support an entire workforce working remotely. Conduct a stress test to see if the system will be overwhelmed by the number of remote devices. Unfortunately, there is no magic “easy” button that can replace a real-world test of your VPN capabilities.
Enable collaboration: Without an office to go to, in-person meetings or networking events, collaboration can be difficult. A team collaboration client like Cisco WebEx or Microsoft Teams can allow for video conferencing, team chats and even live events. Both companies are offering free trials of their products in the wake of the coronavirus. Make sure employees are trained on how to use the software and set clear expectations on response time and availability, as well as policies and guidelines for inviting external participants.
Maintain security: Your existing internal controls may be as stringent as they can be, but do they still hold up outside the network? What about employees who use unsecure BYOD or IoT devices in their homes, rather than their corporate computers at the office? The more distributed the workforce, the harder it is to control. Companies must take extra precaution to ensure endpoints are secure, patched, and up-to-date with cybersecurity programs.
Although coronavirus is already causing massive disruption in our work and our communities, it’s not too late to calibrate a technology solution to meet new needs of a new normal. It is unclear when COVID-19 will run its course, and more unclear if a new normal will include even more remote work. Questions like the ones poised above support a comprehensive policy, for this disaster and the next, to allow for productivity and continuity of business.
Kevin is the VP of Design Engineering at Red River. He has more than 25 years of experience in systems integration, collaboration, networking and technology solutions.