The emergency guide to working from home
As everyone is scrambling to work from home, is your business fully prepared and have you got these key challenges covered?
We are currently seeing an unprecedented rush of people doing their best to get set up to work from home. We know from our 20+ years of experience there are challenges to effectively working remotely.. but we’ve also got a range of solutions to those challenges.
Currently, we are coming across two distinct camps, those that have committed to work from home and are looking round for everything they need, and those that have said we’re not set up to work from home so we’re not going to be able to…
Well, the good news for the latter camp is there are usually ways to solve that, and for the former camp, once the adrenaline has settled down there are some challenges they are likely going to face too.
This article has been created to try and help with all the main challenges we see, if one or more of these resonate with you we’d love to hear from you, and help you where we can.
I hope it goes without saying, if you need help on any of the points below, please just talk to us… we can usually help with each and every point below, and in most cases provide the solution for you in a very short space of time – just ask!
How can my staff work Remotely?
I’m not going to discuss the different types of systems and what should / should not have remote access – that’s for another time when we’re all a little less pre-occupied!
There are two main methods people tend to use for Remote Access
Secure VPN – Set up a secure, encrypted network connection between your laptop and your Office Network. It means you can connect to things like file shares and specific applications directly from your laptop almost as if you were in the office. One thing to look out for here is if the home internet connection or router blocks VPN connections (If you do experience that, get in touch, we’ve got a couple of how-to guides for specific providers).
Secure Remote Screen Share – (NOTE, this is NOT advocating the use of ‘RDP Remote Desktop’, there are security concerns there that could be very bad for your network unless done properly!). The best option here is to ask your IT provider, they often have Remote Access tools that they use to support you, they may be able to open them up to use for you and your staff during this time (we have for our clients!)
If you’ve not already got Laptops for your staff, it’s not too late! It’s also possible to get them shipped directly to you and if you’re using Microsoft 365 can get them to automatically set themselves up just by putting your email username and password in! Ask your IT provider for more info on this (It’s called AutoPilot & InTune)
How are you going to answer your phones? What about making outbound calls, what number will your customers see?
If you’ve already got a cloud-hosted phone system you should either be able to take your desk phones and plug them in at home or get a ‘SoftPhone’ for your laptop that’ll connect to your phone system.
If you’ve got a traditional phone system, you can either divert the calls to a mobile or for a longer-term solution get a temporary Cloud-hosted system setup and have your numbers redirected here… that can be set up to work just like the system in your office!
I know some businesses still run ‘local’ backups – i.e. you have to change a tape or disk every day/week. If this is the case for you how are you going to manage your backups if there’s no-one in the office? Sadly I fear we’re going to be more at threat from Cybercriminals at the moment and have good solid backups in place is vital! You can get a Cloud Backup solution put in pretty quickly (as in within an hour of asking in some cases!) – worth considering if losing your data would cause you a major business problem!
What challenges will my business face when working remotely?
Often overlooked this. How are your staff going to feel if they are isolated from everyone else for weeks or months?
There are loads of tools out there now to help with this, most businesses we work with have got office 365, and that’s got something called ‘Teams’ – We’ve set up a Video Channel which everyone logs in to, and then you can see your colleagues and interact with them, so you don’t feel quite so alone.
Also, think about having a Daily Huddle, all jump on a video call for 20 minutes each morning to start the day off and set expectations, then have 10 minutes at the end of the day to recap and check in with everyone…
Probably the largest topic and least thought about. I really can’t do it justice here so I’ll list a few of the common problems, and if anything resonates and you need help I’ll be happy to provide some further guidance.
Data Loss Prevention: If your staff have access to your company information form home, do you need to take measures to protect any of it from leaking out? Whether it’s contact databases, intellectual property or business strategy, you’ve probably got something you don’t want leaking out into the public, either accidentally or deliberately!
Keeping Machines Safe: How are you going to make sure the machines used at home still get all their security updates and have the appropriate virus and ransomware protection?
Remote Access: If your staff are now remotely accessing the servers at your office, what machines are they using and how are those machines protected? If you’ve got a VPN in place it’d be dead easy for a virus to jump across the VPN an on to the Office network & servers. What if the home machine got compromised and the remote access login details were stolen? So a hacker could then log in to your systems whenever they wanted, from wherever they wanted?
Staff Education & Awareness: There are already lots of E-Mail Scams going around related to coronavirus, and you will undoubtedly see more. At times of panic, people are more susceptible to falling for some of these scams. What training are you providing your staff on how to stay safe and help protect the company systems when working remotely?
Think about: Virus & ransomware protection for Home machines, Encryption for home machines, monitoring for password breaches on the Dark Web, making sure all software security updates are applied, securing remote access and most of all Staff Security Awareness Training!
Whilst staff are working remotely, are they likely to have any important data saved locally on their machine? How are you going to back that up? Even if they don’t store data locally, what happens if something happens to their machine? They get a virus or something gets corrupted? You can get both file & folder Backup and full ‘PC Continuity’ backups, which literally copy the entire laptop, so you can restore it to a previously known good state.
Do you need some help?
Like I said at the start, we’ve been helping organisations solve these challenges for years, it’s nothing new to us, the only scary bit is just how many people are unprepared for something like this. Please don’t panic, give us a call we are here to help. We’ve got solutions to pretty much everything discussed here today.
01543 241 206