Effective Remote Work What Strategies Can We Adopt
As the corona virus story unfolds around the world, we’ve put together some effectiveness tips to help people and organizations adopt effective remote work strategies.
Remote working, or the practice of working for an extended period outside the formal office, is growing steadily in popularity, enabled by a whole host of digital tools of virtually every description. From Web conferencing and e-mail to mobile collaboration applications and virtual event platforms.
I’m sure each of us hopes that Corona Virus won’t become a major health event in their part of the world, but as we see the epidemic unfolding, the reality points the other way.
THREE STRATEGIES FOR REMOTE WORK
The following are three strategies that support remote work and help make your efforts in this direction more fruiful. We look at covering both the technology and the human factors in this post:
Strategy 1: Create a safe and effective base for remote digital access. First and foremost, this means providing secure access to IT resources within the business as well as to the internet itself. This is typically done through an internet provider and virtual private network. You need to asses every part of the connected tech stack, from internet access itself to providing secure means to reach and interact with corporate networks, communication channels, applications being used and the data.
Internet access. Be prepared to invest in mobile hot spots and associated data plans, for the colleagues who do not have optimal internet access. Don’t assume that your staff always have adequate online access at home or elsewhere. While many will, some won’t have reliable or fast enough service or only a mobile device.
Ensure that you have a clearly articulated remote work policy along with a plan, communications program, budget, training, and support for ensuring sufficient internet access wherever the worker will be working remotely.
Allow for adequate slack in your production targets since it may be difficult to know at first the bandwidth that workers will need to be optimally productive. Your line of work may involve needing a lot of data going back and forth regularly. How fast it goes will determine remote work productivity.
Remote work devices. There are two major forks in the road when it comes to devices. Either a) workers can use their own, which is a bigger security risk, but quite a bit cheaper and faster to deploy if their devices are up to the task, or b) a company can provide the devices that are needed. Given that the prevalence of Shadow IT (workers using unsanctioned, unofficial apps to get their work done) is generally higher than most enterprise IT departments are willing to admit – meaning that company data is already on many personal devices anyway – it is advisable to seriously consider assessing workers’ existing computing hardware to see if they are capable, as they are least expensive and quickest option to enable for a crash remote work program.
Your specific type of business requirements would dictate the kind of devices that are needed. Ideally your colleagues are likely to need at least one smartphone and one computer or tablet, plus any internet access hardware. Assess, use your judgement and be objective.
Secure remote access to business assets and online services. Typically this is 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 worker to access IT resources within the organization and elsewhere on the Internet or other networks.
In general, the worker should never do any work for the organization without the VPN on their device(s) being turned on. This includes online services on the internet. This is because the VPN ensures a higher level of security and safety between the remote worker and the service.
It’s important to note that the VPN will be the single most important link in your remote work chain, so ensure your solution works on most target devices, works reliably (there is a surprisingly wide gamut of effectiveness, depending on where workers are actually located, which can get complex with global organizations using local internet services, with many IP addresses blocked for a variety of reasons). In addition, strongly consider two-factor authentication (2FA), instead of just user IDs and passwords, to significantly boost security.
If VPN is not your choice of solutions, you don’t need to despair. There are several alternatives, but secure remote desktops can often do the job if you don’t have the IT resources, skills, or budget to operate a VPN everywhere it needs to function.