Recent developments in the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) have necessitated the urgent transition to a remote workforce for many businesses. Current regulations in and out of the U.S. range from recommendations to limit social contact to government-mandated quarantines.
Even if businesses in your area haven’t yet been required to stop operations at their physical locations, it is wise to do everything possible to enable a remote workforce now as a precautionary measure against both future spread of disease and in case of stricter quarantine regulations.
To enable your employees to work remotely, you first need the technology capabilities that allow your company to stay connected and access data files, no matter where they are.
Tools for Your Remote Workforce
Here are a few IT tools and strategies your business may require in order to operate remotely:
A Strong Network Infrastructure
To work remotely, employees need to have access to adequate equipment to keep them connected, both to the team and to essential data and systems. A strong network infrastructure that’s optimized for remote access is the first necessity in enabling this setup.
To function remotely, your business will need the following tools for your network:
- A Proficient Firewall and Router: A virtual private network (VPN) allows your employees to access a private network remotely by encrypting your data as it travels between your machine and the internet. But you will need a strong firewall to create a barrier between your private network and the Internet in order to protect your data. A router that is enabled for VPN will also allow you to route traffic optimized for VPNs. A VPN-optimized router isn’t too different from a regular router, but it is essential that you have a router that can handle your increased remote traffic.
- Adequate Internet Bandwidth: When working remotely, your business will likely be transferring large amounts of data. If your bandwidth is too small, your speed and productivity will slow significantly.
Remote Access to Office Computers
There is both hardware and software available that enables employees to access their office computers. Using these tools, they will be able to access everything they normally would on an office computer, including programs, documents, favorites, and even printers or other connected devices.
This limits or even eliminates the necessity of physical proximity for applications to be installed, instead allowing for tasks including remote installation of applications, screen-sharing, and access to advanced or secure applications from machines with limited operations.
Actions You Can Take Right Now
While some of these other remote working solutions take more time and planning to implement, there are a few solutions you can take advantage of immediately to help ensure your team can collaborate effectively while working remotely:
Communication Tools for Teams and Clients
With the right software, you can create a virtual office that allows your employees to communicate seamlessly even without being in physical proximity. Tools such as Microsoft Teams give you options for messaging, video conferencing and audio calling between teams and channels all with one application. Teams is free with an Office 365 subscription, meaning you most likely have access to it already. A Managed Service Provider such as ARK Solvers can direct you to the right tools and applications that will best meet your needs.
You can also enable remote access to office phone lines and extensions via call forwarding or an app. This means employees will be able to route business calls to their cell phones without giving customers their personal cell phone numbers, so your communications with clients will continue uninterrupted.
A Strategic Plan
A strategic plan transcends the hardware and software immediately at your disposal, and it is perhaps the most important point on this list. COVID-19 and the worldwide response to the virus are affecting many aspects of life, as well as your business. While you may be in emergency mode responding to the issues currently at hand, now is the time to be thinking about future repercussions as well and planning for how you and your staff will respond to them.
What effects will the outbreak have on your business in the coming months, and how can you structure your business’s operations now to have the best chances of success in the future? Having a plan can help you outline your future goals and prepare for other unexpected situations that might occur.
Work with ARK Solvers
Unfortunately, in this time of immediate crisis, many companies find themselves coming up short-handed when it comes to accessing technology resources because their IT service providers can’t give them the full range of remote services and resources they need to set up remote work stations.
At ARK Solvers, we can prepare your company with all the resources you need to work remotely. We can help you implement these tools and strategize with you as you transition smoothly to a remote workforce. We understand that this is a difficult circumstance for your business, staff and customers, which is why we are dedicating ourselves to being your IT partner as you navigate new challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The current situation doesn’t have to cost you business or productivity if you can set up your team for remote work and communication. Contact ARK Solvers today to get your systems optimized for remote work.