How to Support Remote Work in 2020

Remote worker using laptop and phone

 

We’re only two and a half months in to 2020, and things have been wild.

With over 1,000 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (otherwise known as COVID-19) in the United States, staying healthy is more important than ever.

Unfortunately for businesses though…

…staying healthy during a viral outbreak often means staying away from other people.

And that means that more and more businesses have been asking their employees to work remote.

That way, business stays strong and workers stay safe.

Thing is… none of this was planned.

Coronavirus blindsided all of us.

And because of that, tons of businesses were not prepared at all to jump on board with remote work.

So a question we’ve been asked a lot lately at Affant Network Services is:

“What’s the best way to make sure my employees have good remote access to the tools and networks they need to get their jobs done?”

That’s why we’re here to break down the types of remote access that are possible and which ones will be the most effective for your employees.

We’ll also discuss some of the IT equipment/ordering/communications challenges you might be facing thanks to the current public health issue.

So let’s dive in.

Three types of remote access your employees can use

1. VPN

What a VPN is

The easiest way to allow your employees to access your business’ network remotely is through a VPN (virtual private network).

A VPN uses a client on your employees’ computers to allow them to connect to your network even when they’re not in the office.

That means that they’ll need to install the client on whichever computer(s) they’ll be using to get their work done remotely.

But once they’ve done that, they’re good to go.

The client will connect them to a server that uses the internet to establish a private network between their computer and your business’ network.

When to use a VPN

VPNs will work perfectly fine for pretty much any computer work that doesn’t deal with large files and that isn’t computationally expensive.

Employees will do great with a VPN if they do work like writing, data entry, CMS work, or really any work that uses small files or that’s done solely in a web browser.

But for employees who need more processing power or who need to work with large files, you’ll want to use…

2. Remote control

What remote control is

Remote control is a way of using one computer to access another computer and control it.

With remote control, your employees can control their work computers from anywhere.

Some legacy versions of Windows come with this functionality built in.

But since your business (hopefully) isn’t still rocking Windows XP, you’re going to need special software to enable remote control.

We’ll dive in to the best programs for remote control in a later article (coming soon!), but a quick Google search for “remote control desktop” will get you pretty far in finding one that’s trustworthy and that works for your business.

Once your remote-control program of choice is installed on both your employees’ computers and your business’, you’re good to go.

Your employees will be able to access their work computers directly from home (or wherever they happen to be working from).

When to use remote control

You should set up your employees with remote control when they need to:

  • Do work that requires a lot of processing power
    OR
  • Work with large file sizes

VPNs are great for tasks that aren’t computationally expensive. But because of the way VPNs establish a network connection and because they use local processing, they’re not cut out to do the more computationally expensive stuff over long distances.

Trying to handle the larger stuff over a VPN is not something you want to do; it can cause some pretty big problems.

For example, you don’t want your graphic designers to spend three hours working on your business’ latest and greatest infographic only to hit “Save” and have their computers take 20 minutes to save the file.

Or even worse: you don’t want your accountants, for example, to be working with their accounting software and have their computer freeze up altogether.

Storing large files in the local, offline cache can alleviate problems like this to an extent…

…but using remote control is a better bet. It lets your employees use their work computers’ processing power and bypass potential network connection issues.

3. Audio/Video Calling

So VPNs and remote control are two options when it comes to getting your employees connected to your network (and you should choose the option that makes the most sense for your employees).

But what about human communication?

Work isn’t done in a bubble. People talk to each other and collaborate to get work done.

But having a partially or fully remote team can make that surprisingly difficult.

That’s why you’ll want to leverage conferencing technology that can emulate your office environment… or at least approximate it pretty well.

Just like with your remote computer access, the way you go about this will depend on what kind of work your employees are doing.

If your employees’ work is highly visual, you’ll want to use a robust conferencing or screen-sharing tool like Zoom or GoToMeeting.

If their work is less visual, you may be able to get away with traditional conference calls.

But in our experience, the more robust your video capabilities are… the better.

Presence improves productivity, and being able to see each other can help your employees do great work remotely just like they do in the office.

Other issues

So there you have it. Get your employees set up with remote access to your network the right way and you’ll be able to stay productive as a business while they stay safe as humans.

But if you’re currently trying to figure out how to get your employees on your network remotely…

…chances are it’s not your only network-related problem at the moment.

Right now, the supply of network and communications equipment is totally out of whack.

That’s because reduced capacitor production is affecting all electronics production.

What that means for your business depends on your IT setup.

It might mean that technical equipment that you could otherwise procure in just a few days now takes weeks to arrive.

It might mean that you can’t get telecom circuits installed or terminated.

Or it might mean a number of other things.

Whatever it means for you, it’s probably not good.

That’s why we’ll be covering topics like how to order the IT equipment you need, strategies to keep your IT infrastructure up and running, best security practices for remote access, and more in the coming weeks right here on the Affant blog.

Until then!

Affant is a managed IT service provider. Located in Orange County, California, we’ve offered our clients best-in-class IT services for over 20 years.

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