COVID-19 has forced almost all businesses across all verticals to accommodate working from home. For the past seven months, office buildings started to feel like an eerie place to visit, with near-empty floors and sometimes entire buildings. As states across the nation, including here in the State of California, begin strict reopening stages, working remotely is still a recommended option for almost all stages of the reopening tiers.
Some businesses have announced indefinite work from home. Companies like Microsoft, Zillow, Twitter, and Square have made their intentions about a permanent work-from-home workforce public. The decision to continue remote work is fairly clear for most employers, as some have reported productivity increases, employee work/life benefits, and possible cost benefits. It seems that after the shift-and-pivot from traditional office work occurred earlier this year, the fears of employees “goofing off” while working from home have dissipated.
As the work-from-home workforce gains traction there are new technology challenges faced by IT Departments across all industries. These issues include not only the safety aspects of COVID-19 but also cyber security related hurdles, general training for the remote workers, and communication applications training (i.e., WebEx, Zoom, Etc.). The IT Department must now also be able to assist employees within their home environment and determine the limits of where corporate device support ends.
In addition, employees are having to deal with more technology than ever—the learning curve to work-from-home is staggeringly different for most people. Employees must now become experts when it comes to managing their in-home broadband connection to ensure proper connectivity back to the workplace.
Training users on videoconferencing was imperative for maintaining communication channels, both within the organization and with our clients. Most employees were fairly resistant to having their faces shown on camera. Our managers had to enforce this to their respective departments to make video conferencing the norm.
We have learned a ton in these past seven months about working from home, and not just related to IT. Other departments such as Human Resources, Facilities, and Legal had to also pivot to accommodate this “new normal.” Regardless of the hurdles, one thing is for certain—work from home is here to stay.
The following are items we have gathered that may be helpful in assessing your remote work situation:
- Hardware Inventory: Do you have enough hardware to issue? Laptops, monitors, keyboards, mice, cables, and connectors. In addition to an inventory system to accommodate.
- Home Internet Speed: The home Internet needs to be able to support the remote work environment. Employees will need to know how many users and devices are connecting to their home network. The more people and devices accessing the same connection, the more the bandwidth is divided into smaller segments. Some may need to upgrade network speed.
- Personal Computer Use (or bring your own device, “BYOD”): Does the employee’s personal computer have adequate anti-virus/malware programs installed?
- Cybersecurity Training Adjustment: Staff training had to be adjusted to accommodate a slightly different threat vector when working remotely.
- Home Office Physical Security: Is the home desk near a window or door? Is confidential information being adequately protected? Are others in the household able to access or view the confidential information?
The ability to provide the necessary tools to your employees is critical for remote work. Consider a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) provider or hosted desktop services. The service usually includes securely hosted infrastructure and all you need to provide is the hardware. As your remote workforce grows, this could be a cost effective way to manage a secure workspace for your business.
Wash your hands, wear a mask, and stay safe!