While the Coronavirus has kicked remote work into overdrive, this has been a growing trend for some time. A recent piece by Smallbizgenius showed that 4.3 million people in the U.S. work from home at least half time and telecommuting has grown by 115 percent in the past decade. Not only is working from home often more convenient for employees and better for the environment, but companies typically enjoy cost-savings associated with smaller brick and mortar locations, reduced utilities, and the need for fewer supplies.
With most people now working remotely with shelter-in-place orders enacted around the nation, employees need to work effectively and efficiently from home. They need easy access to work email, software programs, and applications, but they also need secure access. Here are a few things employers and employees need to keep in mind for simple, secure, and reliable access for working remotely.
Proper Planning Matters
Although the Coronavirus pandemic will pass, proper planning will allow your workforce to be prepared in the face of another crisis or to simply continue working from home. Examine what you have in place and what would be helpful to expand opportunities for employees to work easily, reliably, and securely from home.
Consider building a hyper-converged data structure that utilizes the best of both on-premises and Cloud access when it comes to data, security, and backup. Such hyper-converged networks save money while increasing performance. ORAM Corporate Advisors can provide a free demonstration of the benefits of hyper-converged infrastructures.
Building Your Remote Office
Employees should set up a home office free of distractions where they can work quietly and privately. This will allow them to stay focused and prevent interruptions. For example, when teleconferencing with staff or a client, you want to reduce all background distractions and external noises.
Those working from home will need to set regular hours where they are available for clients and other staff members. Though these hours may not remain consistent with standard office hours, they will need to offer some availability during the morning and afternoon. Employees should also take regular breaks.
Staff should communicate what hardware they have access to for work purposes. They also need to report access to high-speed internet and other items such as printers, scanners, and mobile phones.
Providing Remote Access and Security
Employers need to provide remote access to employees for protected documents from behind the firewall and other data protection systems. One method for providing access is through a virtual private network (VPN). Employees will also need the right internet bandwidth to perform their duties. To achieve these needs, every employee will need gateways, modems, and computers with access and enough memory to handle work that needs to be performed.
When it comes to security, employers need to ensure remote workers have up-to-date antivirus software on every device they’ll be using. Computers should also have updated patches for Windows and other software and applications. Remind your workforce to stay hypervigilant about opening links and attachments in their email.
Business leaders should create company guidelines for remote employees if they don’t already have them. The guidelines should include the proper use of company assets and cybersecurity best practices. Companies may also wish to conduct work-at-home training videos to teach employees how to remote access data and software through virtual desktops and other tools. Finally, encourage employees to contact your IT department right away with questions or issues.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
Virtual desktop infrastructure is one option for providing employees with remote access. Using the Cloud, you can run and operate a virtual desktop for every employee to provide access to applications and documents. A VDI allows each employee to work remotely with access to their office desktop and the company network. Not only can your workforce access their operating system but they can continue to do business as usual.
Videoconferencing and Phones
Employers will also need to select a videoconferencing platform for virtual meetings with clients or between staff. Services such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Cisco WebEx, and Microsoft Teams are great for collaboration while Slack is good for chatting among employees.
As for telephone calls, most people now have mobile devices. While they may not want to use their personal device for privacy reasons, phone systems can be set to work remotely using the Cloud. Remote phone systems can forward calls directly to a cellular device so they can be answered as if you’re working in the office. Voicemail can be set up the same way. Employees can even make calls from their personal mobile devices but calls will appear as if they are coming from their office phone.
Hackers are looking to cash in on the instant remote workforce caused by COVID-19 and are banking on the fact many employers have not yet instituted proper security measures. These hackers are taking advantage of the pandemic by attacking individuals working from home. One of the most common weak spots in any company’s security is email. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) ghosting, which is hackers sending emails to employees while posing as the CEO, is on the rise. Warn employees to verify any emails requesting transfers of funds, large or unusual expenditures, or the release of data coming from the CEO or other executives before they fulfill any request with a phone call.
Another problem being created by cybercriminals is virtual teleconferencing hijacking. The Boston Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently warned about hackers disrupting teleconferences using Zoom. To prevent such hijacking, keep meetings private and require a password to join the meeting. Users can also employ the waiting room feature to further control guest attendance. Set screen sharing to “Host Only” and never share meeting links or passwords on social media. Send invitations with links and passwords directly to those you wish to invite. Also, ensure everyone is using the latest version of teleconferencing software.
For more information on allowing secure access for your remote workforce, contact ORAM Corporate Advisors today at (617) 933-5060.