Working From Home in this “New Normal” Work Environment
Now that we are fully engulfed in this COVID-19 pandemic, business owners and mangers must implement a bullet proof digital solution to that enables your staff to “work from home” effectively and efficiently.
No longer is working from home considered a temporary solution to a personnel issue or something that can be allowed once in a while as a benefit to a particular employee. Now, in this new normal, business owners are presented with the reality that you must plan for a possible mass exodus of your employees from your physical workplace to their respective home office, or a scenario where one or more of your employees now work from home for an extended period of time.
This all sounds like a lose lose for the business owners at first glance. The business owner is faced with questions such as; How can I be assured my people are actually working? How can we make available all of our IT systems to employees at their homes? But actually, studies have shown that employees who work from home are actually more productive. And facilitating that is actually much easier in 2020 than you may realize. Yes, you may need to spend a little money up front to get your ducks in a row, but once fully setup, the prospect of having all your employees working from becomes much less scary.
Getting your employees setup to work from home really just boils down to two IT areas: Phone and Data.
With the advent of a Voice over IP (VoIP) phones, your can give your employee an office phone that they can plug right into their home router, giving them the presence of being in the same building as everyone else. Users will be able to handle the incoming call flow flow just as easily as if they were in the office as well as make outbound calls with the presence of your office main phone number.
This helps “keep up appearances” with your clients and customers as well as giving your employees that peace of mind of not needing to share their personal cell phone number with the customers and vendors that they deal with throughout the day.
A system like this is simple to setup and can cost you as little as $15 / month / extension.
Just allowing your employee to make and receive phones calls is not enough. Being able to access the company files and applications is the other part of this equation. There are a few ways that this can be accomplished:
A virtual private network (VPN) is the most widely used way of accessing a corporate network remotely. By loading a simple client on any internet connected computer, you can securely provide access to your company network from either a mobile computer that you provide or from your employee’s personal home pc.
Although this sounds simple enough, the cost to implement and license a proper VPN appliance can be high if you plan on providing this to many users. And all this remote traffic to your internal LAN can tax your office internet quite a bit as well. And lastly, you now have to make sure that your employees home network and internet connections are up for the task for all this additional VPN traffic. This may require them to upgrade their connection to higher speeds, which also comes at a higher cost.
Remote Screen Viewing
Another alternative to VPN is a remote screen viewing application such as LogMeIn or GotToMyPC. Applications such as these allow users to connect to and view their office computer screen from any internet connected computer, even a smart phone or tablet. Once connected, they can see their familiar desktop and access all the files and applications that they normally would if they were sitting at their office desk. These types of remote access applications are relatively inexpensive, anywhere from $10/month to $30/month. However, sometimes we find that users complain that the resolution is stretched or that the text may be too small. This is especially true if the office computer monitor is real large and the computer your are using to remotely access your office computer has a smaller monitor. The result is sometimes a resolution where the text is very small and hard to read.
Private Cloud File Server
Another type of remote access solution that has emerged just over the past couple years is a private DropBox like service called CenterStack. By way of a small piece of software called a “server agent”, that gets loaded onto your file server, you can provide your users an easy to use web interface that has the look and feel of DropBox while giving access to all the file shares that are on your corporate LAN. This allows your employee to edit and create files within your existing file server from a remote computer’s web browser. There is no need to install any special software on the computer. As long as they have a web browser, they can work with their files. You also can provide additional DropBox like storage to your users without having to worry about hard drive space on your file server. You just pay for how much extra storage you want. And, if your users still want to work off of a traditional mapped drive, you can install a Windows client software application that will also give them that functionality. It is probably the most flexible remote access software that we have seen since the advent of the remote screen viewing application.
The cost is very affordable to get started, just $15/user/month. And there is much less for your IT to manage as the service is hosted in the cloud and you no longer need to worry about the reliability and robustness of your employee’s home network or internet connection. Low speed connections and slow computers have much less of an effect on the speed and productivity of this type of service. In fact if you loose your internet connection, this type of service will actually allow you to work offline and sync up your changes to the server later!
So as you can see, there are many ways to get your users working from home in a productive and cost effective way. And both parties, the business owner and the employee, will feel good about this scenario. Employers will know that their employees will still be generating profits for the business, and employees will have the benefit of knowing that they can still show value when working from home and maintain job security.
If you would like to discuss any of these solutions for your business, just give us a call. A friendly and knowledgeable representative is waiting to discuss these solutions for your business!
732-477-4005 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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