With the COVID-19 outbreak spreading around the world, companies of all sizes in every sector are being forced to work remotely. This has posed unique and surprising challenges for many organizations. The sudden transition to teleworking for the entire workforce has been jarring, and has introduced new strains on technology, operations, and people.
Coretelligent has also made the transition to teleworking for all employees, so we can fully relate to the struggles your business is likely facing. As a leading provider of Strategic IT Services, we have guided many of our customers through this process. Our insights come from our own experience tackling the same initiative. Here are some of our top tips.
- Select the optimal collaboration tools
First and foremost, you should ensure your employees can continue to collaborate effectively. Most likely you already have email and chat solutions in place. These are essential, but you also need a tool to replace in-person meetings and watercooler chats. That’s where a good video conferencing solution is invaluable. Ideally this solution will be simple and intuitive to use, thus improving usage across the organization. Even better if this solution also provides integrated chat to consolidate services.
- Educate staff
While having good collaboration tools is critical, it is equally important to ensure staff is trained on their usage. Today most users are accustomed to joining a video conference, but some may have never coordinated their own. Making sure employees are comfortable with all aspects of tool usage will encourage adoption and maximize ROI. Training can be provided via webcast and recorded for future reference, along with “cheat sheet” documents for quick reference.
- Embrace Cloud
At Coretelligent, most of the applications we use are cloud-based. Software as a Service (SaaS) apps are internet-delivered and available anywhere, from almost any device. This model is ideal for teleworking as it ensures employees can remain productive at home. SaaS delivery also reduces the need for costly internal IT infrastructure, reduces reliance on and usage of the corporate Internet circuit, improves security posture by eliminating access points into the corporate network, and simplifies firewall and network configurations.
- Optimize remote access to the corporate network
If some applications or data are hosted internally, it is important to ensure the corporate network can support remote access of the entire workforce. Adequate Internet bandwidth is crucial as external load may increase dramatically. If employees leverage VPN for remote access, verify your VPN solution can support the required number of connections. If workers rely on Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), assess the resource load and allocate additional compute or storage if necessary.
- Prioritize security
As many companies scramble to adjust, attackers are seeing an opportunity. Workers are now more exposed as they sit outside the corporate network and its perimeter protection measures. With malicious activity on the rise around the world it is now more critical than ever to prioritize your organization’s cybersecurity posture. Conduct cybersecurity training for all users to ensure they are informed of best practices and common attacks. If new services or solutions are required to support teleworking, make sure to evaluate the strength of their security protections. Ensure that in-transit traffic is encrypted, as this traffic will likely traverse the public Internet. If you are leveraging Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) or Single Sign-On (SSO), verify the solution supports integration. If you are not currently using MFA or SSO, consider their implementation as these solutions greatly reduce your exposure to phishing and social engineering attacks. Ideally, every endpoint device should be protected by either a next-generation endpoint security solution or Mobile Device Management (MDM). Finally, if hosting your own infrastructure and data, ensure data backups copies are stored offsite in an environment adequately protected from corporate networks.
- Help prevent isolation
With the extended duration of the global quarantine, workers are at risk for feeling isolated. Regular company-wide and team-centric communication is not only critical for operational efficiency, it helps employees maintain a sense of connection. Try sending weekly emails with updates on the organization’s handling of COVID-19. Encourage the use of video conferencing for meetings and suggest that all participants turn on video if they are comfortable doing so. The face-to-face interaction goes a long way to help everyone feel connected. Maintain your regular cadence of team meetings or lunches, just make them online. And in lieu of watercooler chats, take the time to reach out and connect with individual team members.
These are challenging times for all of us, and the above suggestions reflect some of our early takeaways after two weeks of quarantine teleworking. As life eventually returns to normal these lessons will likely have lasting value as organizations everywhere continue to prioritize remote work.