Are you remote-work ready? Recent global events have forced many companies to find out the hard way. But even without a major crisis, the ability to work effectively with distributed teams is becoming integral to business success.
In a 2019 survey of 15,000 professionals across 30 nations, 70% of respondents indicated that flexible work options are a key factor when evaluating new career opportunities. So, a well-executed remote-work plan can help you attract and retain top talent. It also provides critical business resiliency in the face of a huge range of crises, from weather events to epidemics.
If you were counting on business interruption insurance for full protection, think again. It may not cover certain types of disasters. The New York Times explains that although “Quarantines and travel bans can make it just as impossible for workers to do their jobs as destruction from a fire, flood, or earthquake, [they] do not cause the physical damage to workplaces that is necessary to trigger successful business interruption claims.”
Remote to the Rescue
A plan for remote work can calm confusion in turbulent times and reduce the costs associated with business interruptions. Gartner analysts have noted that in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve essentially been forced into a huge distributed teams experiment. And many businesses weren’t ready. A webinar snap poll of Asia/Pacific HR leaders indicated that the biggest challenge has been lack of technology infrastructure and employee discomfort with new ways of working.
Connection understands the unique challenges inherent in remote work. We’ve been working with companies from mid-market to enterprise and across verticals to implement effective remote-work infrastructure, and we are here to offer guidance on remote-work best practices for your employees. Here’s an overview of some of our favorite approaches and tools, many of which have special offers to help fill the gap businesses are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Efficient Processes, Solutions, and Tools
A reliable and effective remote-work plan requires preparation. Harvard Business Review recommends an audit of all hardware and software in preparation for remote work, so you can assess and fill gaps.
Connection can facilitate this audit and recommend best-of-breed, appropriately standardized tools based on the findings. Standardizing tools across your organization is crucial to ensure a smooth transition and maximum productivity down the line.
Video conferencing is a critical tool for maintaining collaboration and engagement. Using video helps ensure that meeting norms, like keeping phones away and not multitasking, are upheld.
Research has also shown that people remember visual information better than audio-only, so video conferencing can facilitate better recollection of the issues being discussed. Cisco Webex, three-time Gartner magic quadrant leader for meeting solutions, is offering free 90-day licenses to support companies forced to make the leap to virtual meetings sooner than they anticipated.
Similarly, Connection is offering companies a six-month trial of Teams. Teams ties together all the Microsoft Office 365 features you rely on into one messaging platform. You get the real-time communication benefits of a messaging app with the ability to organize and edit files and workstreams. Teams can be a huge asset in maintaining highly productive meetings with distributed teams.
Continuity Via Cloud Computing
Cloud computing can also be a huge asset when it comes to maximizing continuity across your operations. Cloud providers are already positioned to serve users in disparate geographic locations, so you aren’t tied to the local network at your office.
If your dev teams are doing their work in the cloud, you’re set up for remote work with minimal disruption, whether day-to-day or long-term. The more business applications (CRM, ERP, Data/Analytics) are cloud hosted, the more flexibility and scalability you have in case of an emergency if you need to suddenly increase the number of remote workers.
For short-term disruptions, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) can provide the flexibility and portability necessary to see you through. It may be impractical for many employers to outfit their employees with both the desktop-computing power they need to be effective as well as an equally powerful and secure portable device. But, DaaS allows employers to provide more affordable portable devices, while employees can access the power of their in-office machines through the cloud.
DaaS is not just an “in case of emergency” service. It provides employees the flexibility they desire in the day-to-day, as well as convenient, predictable pricing for budget planning.
Connection can help match you with the remote desktop partner best suited for your existing cloud computing environment.
Prep Your Infrastructure
Remote work will stress different areas of your infrastructure. Working with an expert like Connection to devise your remote-work plan can help ensure that your infrastructure is ready, so you aren’t stuck with best-of-breed tools that lack proper infrastructure support. We’ll walk you through key questions, like:
- Can your network infrastructure support your entire workforce?
- Can it support everyone logging in remotely at once?
- Is your workforce properly equipped with mobility devices?
- Do you need to forward calls?
- If you use a VPN, do you have enough VPN licenses?
- Will your support desk be able to handle the increase in tickets as employees learn new tools?
It’s important to consider support infrastructure as employees adapt to new remote-work tools. Advance training is critical. But no matter how outstanding the training, questions will arise. Managed services are a great option, because you’ll have support desk access. Connection’s support desk scales up or down based on volume, so it won’t be overwhelmed by an increase in tickets as employees learn to navigate new tools.
Keep Remote Plans Current
Some organizations have a head start on their remote-work planning. For example, federal organizations are required to have a continuity of operations plan. But just because a plan exists, doesn’t mean you’re set. Check when the last time your remote-work plan was updated; you may be missing crucial newer technologies or opportunities to improve.
Connection can help you audit your existing remote-work plans and ensure they leverage the latest best practices and best-of-breed tools. We have broad experience working with federal agencies and K-12, so we’re prepared to help you find the best-fit solutions for your unique organizational concerns.
Remote-work Readiness Best Practices
In an ideal world, your team will enjoy training on remote tools and expectations, before remote-work plans are ever implemented. If circumstances have forced you into a less-than-ideal scenario, here are some remote-work best practices that can go a long way.
- Make sure employees have set up remote logins. This includes ensuring they know how to access them.
- Provide guidance on when to use different communication tools. For example, use Microsoft Teams for quick questions and maintaining team rapport, but only make project-based asks and send documents via email.
- Don’t make training a one-time deal. Encourage distributed-team days when convenient, so employees can try out tools for themselves and get comfortable using them.
For teams that aren’t used to working remotely, it can be an adjustment to get back to in-house productivity levels. Here are some key tips to smooth the path:
- Especially during a disaster, people’s routines may be upended. It can be helpful to establish common structures, like company-wide availability hours and daily check-ins.
- Remember that, in some cases, remote work wasn’t a choice. Your team may need consistent, additional support as they acclimate to the changes.
- Acknowledge difficulties adjusting and that there can be anxiety surrounding this transition.
- Accessing company assets on a personal device without virus protection
- Using work devices for personal activities
- Allowing others to use their work device
There are a couple of approaches to combat these alarming findings. DaaS programs can ensure each employee has a properly secured device.
An additional layer of security can be provided with a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution. This can help aggregate employee actions into a single pane of glass, so that the company can quickly identify and remediate risky, employee behavior.
Connection can help you decide which approach is the best fit for your security needs.
Right-Fit Remote-Work Plans
It’s understandable that these recommendations can feel overwhelming. After all, simply managing the day-to-day of normal operations demands enormous bandwidth. Generating an entirely new framework for doing business is a big ask.
That’s where Connection can help. We’ve done this before, so we understand the journey. We also know that no solution is one size fits all. So, when you’re ready to assess, deploy, and mitigate the risks of implementing a more mobile workforce, let us guide you through the process. Organizational landscapes are full of uncertainty, but you can reduce stress by having a thoughtful, up-to-date plan. Get started today. Reach out to an Account Manager or call us to get more information. You can find additional information about remote readiness here.