This is the second post in our working remotely blog series. Follow us on LinkedIn to ensure you’re alerted to our next post.
As social distancing is becoming the norm to help flatten the curve for COVID-19 cases, more and more companies in the United States are switching to a work-from-home model.
And, while most companies have a work-from-home capability, it may not be scalable enough to accommodate a large influx of employees taking advantage of it all at once.
To proactively prepare for the remote-work possibility, there are many factors companies need to consider regarding their infrastructure. Here are 5 tips we think may help you prepare.
Tip #1: Validate Remote Access For Employees
When working remotely, outside of basics like a computer and solid Internet connection, the next most needed technology resource is software access. Luckily, today many software applications have moved to the cloud.
But, especially in the technology world, often employees need access to on-prem resources and software in order to do their job. That’s why it’s important to make sure your employees have access to the software they need.
Here are a few things you’ll should check:
Confirm You Have Enough Concurrent Licenses
Validate license numbers for remote access employees, through VPN or cloud services with appropriate software installed and available (such as Office 365).
Ensure On-Prem Applications Are Available Through VPN
If users need to access on-prem applications while working remotely, the most common solution is to allow them to access them via VPN.
This is typically a great solution, but it’s important to keep in mind some VPN solutions are licensed on a per user basis. If you have a surge in users needing VPN access, most companies will find they do not have enough licenses to cover the entire company.
With that in mind, VPN should only be used by employees that need remote access to on-prem applications. If the applications are cloud-based and public internet accessible, such as O365, they do not need VPN.
The next thing to consider is how your bandwidth requirements will change…
Tip #2: Consider Your (Inbound) Bandwidth Requirements
Most companies have a large outbound network pipe that can accommodate user data going outbound. With work from home, much of this user traffic will shift to inbound traffic. If your VPN is configured to route all internet traffic, this shift can be even larger.
Because of this limited possibility, if possible, employees should be shifted to working from home in a phased approach. Another option is to try doing a remote-work test day to stress your systems.
This will help you identify any impact on network utilization.
Tip #3: Collaborate Effectively With Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is HMB’s recommended tool for collaborating with colleagues remotely. Teams make it easy to work together with seamless video and voice communications, as well as chat and document sharing.
And considering COVID-19, Microsoft is offering Microsoft Teams for free for six months.
P.S. If you’d like to get set up or learn more about Microsoft Teams email us and we’d be happy to set up a quick video chat so you can see the platform in action.
And, don’t forget to educate your employees on how to effectively work remotely.
Here are a few of our favorite work-from-home tips:
- Define document collaboration best practices and implement information governance policies. Remote work introduces additional tools and a lack of governance can cause serious problems.
- Encourage video conferencing. It improves employee collaboration and engagement.
- Encourage employees to set up a specific work area organized like an office. Working from a desk with the same resources you’d have at work increases productivity significantly.
Tip #4: Make Security A Top Priority
If you haven’t already, ensure that your organization is enforcing important security protocols, including:
- Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – All employee and admin logins should require two-pieces of evidence to verify identity. I.e. Password + Text Message Code Verification
- Conditional Access – enforce access controls on your organization’s apps based on certain conditions. I.e. users logging in from outside the country must provide additional authentication.
- Remind & Alert Users to Phishing Scams – Already there is a COVID-19 email scam attempting to steal data from employee computers. Make sure to alert and remind employees not to download files from outside sources.
Tip #5: Encourage Employees To Stay Safe At Home
As we work together to self-isolate and limit exposure to COVID-19, it’s important that everyone follows best practices not just at work, but also at home.
The CDC has put together a detailed guide which is a great place to start: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html
Remind users of the importance of working from home and avoiding working at public locations such as coffee shops, libraries or restaurants.
If you have employees whose job duties don’t allow them to work from home, remind them how important it is to sanitize high-touch services on a regular basis. This includes their work computer equipment, such as: mice, keyboards, USB drives, monitors, and headphones.
Sending most of your workers home reduces the number of people any remaining workers must interact with, but sanitation and hygiene are still critical.
As we all work to find our new normal, we hope you find these tips for preparing your organization’s IT Infrastructure useful.
HMB will continue to provide helpful tips our company uses while working remotely to:
- Collaborate effectively
- Stay connected via virtual team-building
- And, stay productive (and sane)
In the meantime, if you need any help optimizing your infrastructure, reach out to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re all in this together!