How to Enable a Remote Workforce: Tools & Support

This week has been historical. Bars and gyms shutting down. Restaurants only offering takeout. Social distancing. Our regular routines have come to a halt.

How do we adapt to these never-before-seen circumstances?

People are starting 'virtual happy hours' and hanging out on FaceTime or Zoom with their friends. Musicians have taken up Facebook live to 'perform shows.' Gyms are offering virtual workouts on social media and other outlets.

And businesses across the country are trying to figure out how to put their best foot forward to enable a remote workforce that is both productive and secure. This article is going to lessen the fear and equip you with questions and ideas for what to do next as well as give you the knowledge of the tools that can address your needs. Ultimately, we're here to empower you to enable a productive remote workforce.

What your business will need to remain productive

In order for your employees to work remotely and out of their homes, there are a few things to consider that your business will need to do so successfully:

  1. Portable devices with access to the internet
  2. Productivity tools
  3. Mobile Management of devices
  4. Identity Management & Security
  5. Network and service monitoring

Portable Devices - Laptops, Tablets, Smart Phones

Currently, many hardware companies are on backorder and are having 2-3 week turnaround times. Fortunately, as a partner of these hardware companies, we tend to get it a bit faster. If we can help provide the devices for you, please contact us.

Most remote access is achieved through a remote tool such as a VPN, Remote Desktop, Windows Virtual Device or Direct Access. Any of these are viable options, it just depends on your infrastructure and what you're looking for. We're happy to chat about this in more detail with you.

Lastly, when remote, we likely won't have a desk phone. In fact, many offices don't have them anymore either. They have what you call a softphone (or desk-less phone). A softphone allows you to make and receive calls right from your device such as your laptop.

Productivity Tools, Meetings & Collaboration

Make sure once you have the devices, that they're equipped with tools that allow for video conferencing, word processing, emailing, file sharing, and other various applications.

It's critical that you have some sort of hub (such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc) for file sharing and team communication. This type of hub allows for realtime communication via video conferencing and instant messaging, allowing your team to always be connected.

With this sort of foundation in place, especially for larger organizations, you are enabling your users to access resources and share files across the web, mobile and desktop storing everything in the cloud. This means you can access your email, files, and more from anywhere. Additionally, users can create and share new files with who they need to.

Lastly, it's critical that your organization continues to communicate. With everyone siloed in their homes, video meetings and instant messaging are more crucial now in staying connected.

Mobile Management

This simply means having the ability to push and pull data and information to different devices so your users can be productive. This includes pushing to applications on-premise or in the cloud. Additionally, it also includes security policies and remote access and support. Your users are going to need all sorts of different data while remote, so it needs to be accessible to them.

With many new portable devices, this is a seamless and secure way to allow users to access company resources. Once their appropriate policies are set, they can then access things like their VPN. Additionally, it allows for ensuring devices are adhering to the policy by checking in on the device's health status.

Identity Management & Security

Identity Management is what we call the 'source of truth' which tells us which employees have access to which files, what applications they can access and which groups, departments, etc that they can communicate with. By setting up each employee's identity, they are able to get what they need when they need it without delay.

This is also an added layer of security. You're able to control who can access what and allow your employees to collaborate securely.

Network & Service Monitoring

There's an increased workload and usage with so many people working remotely, that it's important that you're monitoring the health of your systems. Make sure you have someone on staff (or outsource) that is able to remotely monitor application and network performance. This is critical in preventing breaches, which many companies are extra vulnerable to at this time. 

Questions to Consider When Implementing

Any change in an environment can cause unforeseen challenges or issues. Here are a few questions you should be asking as you prepare for or get started with a remote workforce:

  1. What happens if your IT person can't access your device remotely to help troubleshoot your issues?
  2. How limited in skillset is one IT person versus a whole team?
  3. How are you logging information to capture historical data of issues throughout your organization?
  4. Do you have support 24/7?

Need Help? We're Here.

As a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, we can provide all the above, and quickly. Here's how we can help:

  • We have access to hardware from various sources to get you the laptops & other portable devices you need
  • We have a Help Desk that can remotely support your business anywhere in the country
  • We can provide Microsoft software tools (Office 365 or Microsoft 365) that allow you to stay constantly connected with your teams
  • We can provide consulting services lending your our expertise as you navigate these unchartered waters
  • We offer setup/migration services for those needing to migrate to a new system or infrastructure to support their remote work

If you need assistance, or just want to consult, we want to help. You don't have to do this alone, we're in it together. Contact us today.

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