Are you ready for remote work?
Over the last several months COVID-19 (coronavirus) has impacted the lives of people around the world. Travel restrictions and new rules on large public gatherings have changed the daily routines of millions. As the outbreak continues, many colleagues and customers have asked us what the impact will be on their day-to-day professional life. The short answer is: “you are most likely going to have to work remotely – more frequently and for longer periods of time”.
Outbreaks like the current one make us think about the issues that can arise from being thrown off our daily routine. A virus like COVID-19 can create longer commutes due to people being weary of using public transportation, or in the worst case can cause mandatory quarantine forcing workers to be remote. When COVID-19 initially spread in China in early 2020, officials announced unprecedented measures to control the outbreak. First it was the shutting down of movie theaters and other public places. This was quickly followed by the cancellation of large public events and the closing of schools. Eventually employees were forced to work remotely. As COVID-19 outbreak continues, China and and other countries such as Italy and South Korea, are experiencing a huge spike in remote work. In essence, what we are seeing is a massive experiment in telecommuting.
As COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States, we should look at what happened in China and learn from it. There is no doubt that this massive experiment in telecommuting will continue to grow. This is quickly becoming the new normal and organizations in the rest of the world should ask themselves a fundamental question: are we prepared to have our staff work remotely for an extended period of time?
How to go remote – topics to consider
We recommend that you consider the following topics when going remote:
- Make sure you have the right tools. Companies need to ensure they have the proper software and cloud services in place, as well as the necessary laptops and network access for employees if you are still relying on accessing data stored on your on-premise servers.
- Make sure your IT support is available. Employees will need help when they will be working remotely. Ensure that your IT department or IT service provider will continue to provide support during the remote work period. Check with them and make sure that employees know how to contact them.
- Self-assess. Employees need to make sure they have working WiFi and all the requisite passwords and instructions needed to log in.
- Leverage the Cloud. Leverage cloud solutions like Office 365, Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive to ensure easy communication and collaboration, and simplified access to documents and applications.
- Use online meetings. Remote workers require a reliable videoconferencing tool, preferably one on their desktop or laptop. Even big meetings can be moved online. Many of us are accustomed to quick calls or video chats with a few teammates, but large and formal meetings can also be successfully held online.
- Check your company policies. Make sure that employees know what they can and cannot do when working remotely. For example, if you don’t want employees using public Wi-Fi or other unsecured access points, or if you don’t want them to share documents with non-sanctioned cloud storage tools, say so.
- Set expectations. Make sure everyone is genuinely prepared to treat remote work like a regular office job, working fixed hours and staying available and being responsive to messages and requests.
- Chat and stay social. To try to preserve the office water-cooler experience, consider chat application like Teams.
Modern Workplace technology you should consider
The workplace as we know it is rapidly evolving, and it is more than open concept offices and free lunches. There is a new generation of users who are always connected from multiple devices and they work in a different way. And if that were not enough, times are also changing; environmental disasters and public safety issues like the COVID-19 outbreak are also changing how employers should work. Increased mobility and enhanced collaboration are becoming requirements for every organization, while new security threats are appearing every day.
This changing landscape is driving a digital transformation for organizations and requiring a new way of doing business. It’s is time for a new culture of work. One that is marked by a shift to more open, collaborative environments and the ability for employees to work anywhere and anytime they choose. One that inspires creative thinking and agility instead of routine process. One that rewards dynamic teamwork and data-driven problem solving over command and control. One that enables employees to feel more connected to each other, and to the organization. And one that protects company and customer data and mitigates the risks posed by increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, all while minimizing total cost of ownership.
This is the Modern Workplace. It’s about leveraging a modern desktop, cloud services and cloud technology to create a mobile, productive and secure workforce.
Are you using the right tools?
How does your staff access organization data? Do you currently have a way for staff to access files, documents and apps outside of your network? If so, are you using older unreliable and expensive technology such as VPN? Are you leveraging modern cloud services such as OneDrive or SharePoint for true and secure mobility?
Where is your data being stored? If all the organizations data is hosted in the office, does your office have enough bandwidth or VPN licenses to allow for the entire staff to be remote.
Who will maintain the on-premise infrastructure? In the event of a mandatory quarantine who would be able to get to servers or other network devices to troubleshoot or power them back on.
How will staff communicate? If staff cannot come into the office, how will the take phone call, setup meetings, and quickly communicate? Is your phone system setup to handle remote staff, and if so, how many?
How will you address new security challenges? Going remote means that employees will use a wider array of devices and applications into and out of your organization. For example, staff might be forced to use personal machines and they might have to use public WiFi. Even worse, they might be tempted to use personal or non-work sanctioned services such as Dropbox or Google Drive to share work documents. Do you have the right tools in place to monitor, identify, and remediate new security risks? Are you leveraging intelligent cloud security such as Microsoft 365 security and compliance tools for Identity & Access Management, Information Protection, Threat Protection, and Security Management?
The Modern Workplace can answer all the questions above and give your organization peace of mind. Solutions such as OneDrive and SharePoint can allow for users to quickly but securely connect and access your organizations data, from anywhere. Implementing Enterprise Mobility + Security gives users the ability to securely login to their workstation from anywhere, while giving administrators the ability to remotely monitor and manage the organizations equipment.
Adding in Teams with telephony (voice) provides a full intelligent communication solution allowing staff to make calls from anywhere, while implementing collaboration and persistent chat features. Staff would be able to make calls, host meetings (small and large) and setup conference calls from their mobile device, workstation or desk phone.
The Modern Workplace and Teams voice infrastructure is hosted in secure Microsoft datacenters, while administration can take place from anywhere from the administration consoles. This removes the need to worry about onsite infrastructure, while allowing staff to securely work away from the office.