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Working in a Remote World

Emily Cianchette

In light of recent events surrounding COVID-19, the world is experiencing a boom in businesses shifting to remote workplaces. The idea of working remote is one that’s been gaining popularity over the past decade and embraced by companies of all sizes. However, the sudden onset of social distancing and limiting in-person interactions is catching some businesses off-guard. Some organizations already had business contingency plans prepared to allow their workforce to work from home, but others are adapting as needed to avoid serious disruption of their business operations.

If you’re trying to get your workforce operating remotely as quickly as you can, here are some important strategies to help create a safe and strong foundation for remote access.

Develop a clearly articulated remote work policy

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for creating remote work policies, as each organization’s size and needs can vary. However, there are a few key points, which managers should address when developing a remote work policy for their organization. Make sure you clearly state availability expectations, offer open lines of communication for remote teams, clarify and review protocols to keep data secure, and establish measurable goals for each employee.

Ensure employees have adequate internet access

It’s important not to assume all users have adequate online access at home or elsewhere. While many will, some may not have reliable or fast enough service. Survey or collect data from the employees included in your remote work strategy and determine where the gaps are. For some employees, be prepared to invest in mobile hot spots and associated data plans, as well as providing stipends to establish home internet access plans or upgrades to existing access, which can be especially important for users that live in more rural areas.

Secure remote access to operational assets and platforms

Remote users need the right tools to complete their work while keeping data secure. This is typically provided by a virtual private network (VPN) solution, which sits on the PC, laptop, or mobile device and creates an encrypted network connection that makes it safe for the user to access resources within the organization and elsewhere on the internet or other networks. In general, employees should never do any work without the VPN on their device(s) being turned on, because the VPN ensures a higher level of security and safety between the remote user and the service. In addition, companies should strongly consider enabling two-factor authentication (2FA), instead of just user IDs and passwords, to significantly boost security. 2FA utilizes something known only to the user, such as a username and password, as well as something possessed only by the user, such as a security token or mobile phone. When both factors are required for authentication, the security model becomes much more entrenched, making it more difficult to bypass or hack. Many organizations are also turning to the cloud for essential aspects of their business rather than relying on locally installed software and servers. The cloud can allow companies to lower costs, move faster, and improve resiliency. If you aren’t utilizing the cloud, it’s important to create a cloud migration roadmap to help your organization ensure maximum security and faster time to market.

Go the extra mile with remote collaboration

Remote work itself can be quite challenging for people who are not used to it, so it's usually well worth the extra effort to make remote work easier and more engaging for your organization. With COVID-19 likely to push people who are not accustomed to working remotely begin doing so, it’s important to consider several solutions that make remote collaboration feel more like the office or make it more immersive. There are a handful of modern workforce collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace in MS Office 365, offering flexible communication and helping keep everyone updated in real time. This collaborative tool brings together content, conversations and people-along with any tools needed by groups to maintain communication.

Because the recent developments with COVID-19 may make people more isolated than ever, there’s an opportunity to create a compelling new digital remote work environment at your organization that is far more engaging, participatory, and full of human connection, context, and contact. Use your new remote work effort to begin to build a genuinely better and more effective organization. If you need help creating a remote work policy or business continuity plan for your organization, speak with an expert at Logically today.