man frustrated with his IT systems while working from home

COVID-19 + the Shift to Work from Home

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has already forced many employees to work from home. But does your company’s IT infrastructure provide a solid base for employees to remain productive and safe during this shift of a temporary new norm?

For most modern tech companies, the infrastructure and policies needed for remote working are undoubtedly in place, and the vast majority of their team members are already using laptops. But what about smaller companies and organizations? More than likely, their situation is very different. Remote working is probably limited to a handful of employees, and realistically only applies to checking email and other non-operational systems. Take a quick inventory of your entire team, how many of them can be mobile workers utilizing laptops rather than desktop devices? If the answer is most of them—that’s great! But you’re not out of the woods just yet; there’s a variety of issues from security to bandwidth that you may encounter while working to keep your teams connected and productive in this uncharted territory.

Have a Teleworking Plan in Place

We’re sure you’ve heard how these times are unprecedented and unlike any other situation we’ve faced before. While that is true, it has awakened the need for a good business continuity emergency plan that includes teleworking. Employers frequently allow employees to work remotely or from home, but it’s not always possible or beneficial for the employer. As a result, having a work from home policy and system in place is prudent. Here’s quick a list of a few things to keep in mind when creating your plan:

  • Policies should be clear on what positions are eligible to work from home.
  • What, if any, technology will be provided to help the employee work from home?
  • What level of access to programs, software, etc, will employees need?
  • Can employees access work resources easily and securely?
  • How will you keep communication steady and open?
  • How will employees obtain technology assistance if needed?

There is a myriad of questions to ask yourself when making these policies, but when the time arises for you to put them in place – you’ll be glad you thought it through.

Ensure Your Workforce Has the Tools Required to Work from Home

One of the most inaccurate assumptions in today’s always on and connected world is that everyone has access to reliable technology that would allow them to work easily from home. However, that’s not always the case. If your employees need access to tools and technology to work from home, be ready to have the materials they need available and provide them with training on how to use them. This could involve checking in with your IT firm to see if they have lease options or device-as-a-service for additional laptop computers, scanners, printer, or even multiple monitors that are installed with the appropriate security for those who normally work from company offices. It could also include asking the IT professionals to ensure training is available to your employees. For those who have never used such devices and tools, it could be tricky at first, and the last thing you want is an employee at home unable to work a device needed to continue being productive.

If you choose to allow employees to use their own devices to work from home, you should consider the cyber-security risks that come with that decision.

Consider Cyber-Security Threats of Working from Home

Working from home can create special challenges to the security of your corporate information. While in your office setting, your employees are protected by  layers of cyber-security measures. Once an employee begins to work remotely, however, the layers of security may diminish without specific actions and policies in place. A few tips to keep your information safe:

  • Avoiding public wi-fi and opting for encrypted connections or using a hotspot when applicable.
  • Ensuring all computers and devices have an up-to-date firewall and other software.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) when possible.
  • Consider additional remote security protections, i.e. the age of your remote desktop application, employed strong passwords and/or multifactor authentication, and levels of accessibility to your network.

Communication between Management and Employees

Communication is key in the workplace, and remote work is different from the typical work structure. Managers, as well as other employees, may need guidance on how to best address communication issues. The most effective remote workforces maintain two key elements found in the “normal” work environment: connection and collaboration. It’s important to retain a connection between your workforce.

Lucky for us, we live in an era of technology which allows us to continue our team collaboration and communication efforts through the use of software related to project management and by video and phone calls. It’s important that teams have regular meetings, as well as one-on-one check ins, while working from home.

Communication with Clients and Customers

If no one is in the office to hear a phone ring, does it make a sound? If you work in a business that is client and customer driven, you probably don’t want to find out the answer to that question. Ensuring that you have the capability to answer the phones and/or check office messages while out of the office will supply clients and customers with peace of mind that they are being taken care of despite all the change surrounding them.

Technical Problems While Teleworking

Not having an IT department on call can become a huge hassle, whether you’re working from home or not, and it can throw a huge wrench into your productivity. When technical complications that are out of your control pop up, having a local IT support team in your contact list will be vital. Many IT problems can be solved through remote access to the device you’re using, but in the case it’s not, having someone you can email or call is always helpful.

Ensuring Your IT Can Support Working from Home

In a perfect world, everyone would have the devices, access to networks, licenses, and general tools they need to ensure that everything runs smoothly while working from home. But reality is, do you know for sure that your employees know how to access your network remotely and safely or that your network can handle an unusually high volume of simultaneous traffic created by employees working from home? Let Elemental Technology Solutions work with you to create a plan and IT infrastructure that takes the guess work out of it.

From full-service managed IT to cloud and voice services to device-as-a-service, our IT firm works with your company to ensure business continuity no matter what disaster is thrown our way. We will work with you to create a plan that fits your business’s needs. Our device-as-a-service (DaaS) offers a wide range of asset maintenance, configuration, support, and upgrade options that cover any solution your organization needs to excel. Pair our DaaS solutions with our cloud and voice services to allow your employees secure access to anything they may need while working from home. For more information regarding our services or to get started today, give us a call at 888-499-5898 for our Knoxville, TN, IT professionals or 615-835-2985 to speak with our Nashville, TN, IT firm. We look forward to working with you!