Can Your IT Infrastructure Support Remote Work?
With the continuation of a global pandemic and record numbers of fully-remote employees, the question of whether your IT infrastructure can support this new technological onslaught is of dire importance. While many companies are returning to in-person working conditions in part or in full, some are choosing to continue to remain remote pending new potential ‘lockdowns’ or due to investment and productivity gained from going remote overall.
Whatever your situation is, it’s important to make sure that your business is ready for whatever life may throw at it. Part of that preparation is utilizing existing systems where you can and investing in new ones where needed. This includes everything from servers to collaboration software.
Supporting Remote Workers
It comes as no surprise that some companies fared better in the transition to remote work than others. A retail company would likely not survive if it had to initiate a 100% remote workforce as the very essence of brick-and-mortar business is the in-person shopping experience for customers. Still, companies like Best Buy and Target continued to focus more energy on eCommerce options like curbside pickup and home delivery. Other services, like food and grocery delivery, already had a base infrastructure set up that seamlessly intertwined the in-person shopping or order pickups. By having these systems set in place, many companies didn’t have to change much.
For some of us, though, the transition’s been more difficult. How can we get the same output from our employees? Will we continue to grow as a business with all of these limitations? What’s really needed for an employee to be successful while working remotely?
The answers to these questions, and more, have been a learning experience not only for American companies but globally as well.
Secure Workstations and Internet Access
If employees are going to be working from home, they need to have access to all of the critical systems that they’re used to at work. This starts with a secure computer system.
Many companies needed to invest in laptops and smartphones for employees. Having a way to handle all of these newly activated devices is crucial since they’ll be the lifeblood of your company.
Dealing with employee internet access can be tricky, especially if you have employees who live in rural locations that may not have the best speeds available. For those employees, consider mobile hotspots, either standalone or on their smartphones.
For employees who need to access specific files on the company network, VPNs are typically used to secure a connection into your corporate system. From there, if set up properly, employees could have access to the same files as if they were actually in the building.
There are systems like Zoom and Microsoft Teams that allow for deep collaboration and document sharing alongside video chat and meeting capabilities. Messaging software like Slack offers instant messaging and other collaborative tools.
For sharing large files, consider deploying cloud storage that’s accessible to all employees. This helps keep sensitive data secure while allowing your employees to have quick and easy access to the files they’ll need. If you’d rather have a “done for you” cloud system, consider iDrive or Dropbox.
If your company handles video files, a way to collaborate remotely is essential. Services like Frame.io or ClearView are great choices and can handle both internal collaboration and external client viewing.
When support is required, most IT teams have a help desk set up for tech issue tracking and general servicing needs like deploying new software or troubleshooting computers and applications. Within that help desk, this system usually consists of a chat option or a ticket system to allow quick and efficient resolutions from IT to the employee.
In your current business, you may have some or all of these solutions already worked out. If you are currently looking for software solutions in order to gain remote working capabilities, it’s good to remember this above all else:
When choosing your new systems, the most important thing is that the software is secure, reliable, and scalable.
If you’re not transitioning your entire workforce to remote positions, you should still be prepared for future events that may lead to that decision. Preparing for that possibility today will greatly reduce hardships if and when the time comes to have a 100% remote workforce.
Supposing you are considering a 100% remote transition, this is even more important because you’ll have to rely not only on your IT team to deliver stellar results with the transition, but you’ll also have to count on all of the aforementioned systems to deliver an excellent experience for workers. You’re obviously counting on them to do their jobs, but they’re also counting on you to give them all of the tools that they need to continue to be productive in their respective positions.