Remote working has been on the rise for several years now, thanks to the introduction of some brilliant cloud-based services and communication-focused technology. But the Spring of 2020 saw a sizeable shift towards remote working, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures that were introduced all over the world.
In April 2020, figures released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics revealed that almost half of the UK’s entire workforce was working from home. And with new restrictions being introduced frequently as we head into winter there is little doubt that this trend will continue for some time.
Businesses are now having to coordinate their remote workers to ensure safe and secure ways of working from home, which offer the same levels of efficiency and cooperation that workers would normally experience in an office environment. One of the key areas that must be adapted in order to facilitate productive remote working is of course enterprise IT, and this is something IT professionals have been dedicated to since the very start of the shift towards remote working.
If your teams are now working off-site and no longer relying on in-house computers for their day to day tasks, there are several ways in which you can adapt your software and systems for the new remote working landscape. Take a look at the following ideas to make sure your colleagues are getting the most out of their home working experience.
Use cloud-based services to scale up quickly
Cloud-based services are ideal for companies whose teams tend to work remotely, and rarely venture into the office. Using cloud-based services offers a number of advantages to stretched IT departments, who inevitably lose a degree of control over their colleagues’ use of IT systems when they switch to remote working.
With cloud-based services, team members gain access to automatic updates, which can be managed and checked by IT professionals. The services are flexible and easily scalable, and can move in line with the businesses’ needs, as and when required. IT teams can introduce new services to employees without anyone ever having to meet in person, and software can easily be provided to remote workers for their home office setups.
Introduce multi-factor authentication on sensitive information
Security is of course a huge concern for businesses making the switch to remote working, and the anxieties surrounding this issue are valid. However, there are many steps that IT departments can take to bolster the security of their systems and keep sensitive data safe.
As well as encouraging staff to change passwords regularly and keep software updated, IT departments can introduce additional steps in their security protocol, such as multi-factor authentication. This step is ideal for companies handling important data, and might just prove invaluable in thwarting a cyber attack.
Plan regular security audits for all departments
The fact that employees aren’t physically in the office is no reason to relax on security measures. Quite the opposite in fact! IT professionals looking to adapt their systems to prepare for remote working should be managing a strict regime of security audits, and looking to iron out any weaknesses in the system’s defences. Security audits can be managed by IT teams working from home, and should be conducted regularly to avoid any potentially dangerous vulnerabilities going undetected.
Recommend safe and secure communication services
Good communication is the key to a productive remote workforce, so workers will be relying on a number of different communication tools to help them manage their tasks effectively. But not all communication apps and software options are created equal!
It’s a good idea to offer teams a list of approved services which have been checked by the company’s IT department, and confirmed as offering adequate safety and security measures for users. To make life simple, encourage departments to use the same services wherever possible. This will benefit the company from a security perspective, and it will also encourage better collaboration between departments.
Ensure that all team members are trained on security
There are plenty of steps that can be taken by IT departments to bolster security for remote workers, but there’s no substitute for comprehensive training. Ensure that all team members working from home are fully trained on top security concerns, and know what to look out for as they work.
Many of the world’s most dangerous cyber attacks could have been prevented if staff had been better trained, so make sure your employees know how to spot a threat and understand what they should do as soon as they become suspicious. Introduce a clear plan of action for employees who have any concerns, and establish good communication channels between IT teams and all other departments to make sure these concerns are reported in a timely manner.
Establish remote working rules for all workers
Almost all offices have rules on the services employees can and cannot use on company computers, and these rules should always be extended to remote workers. When employees begin working from home on their own laptops, or using mobile devices to stay in touch with colleagues, doors are sometimes opened to unscrupulous criminals looking to exploit weaknesses in these systems.
It’s vital that IT departments therefore have a set of guidelines for remote workers, and that all staff are fully briefed on what these are, and why they’re so important. Provide colleagues with all the information they need to understand why these rules have been set and what they’ve been designed to prevent. This will ensure cooperation across the businesses, and keep systems safe.
Remote working offers a whole host of benefits for businesses and employees alike. Companies are reporting considerable rises in productivity, and many staff members are hugely appreciative of the cost and time savings home working affords them. Ongoing social distancing regulations mean that we can expect significant numbers of workers to continue working from home for the foreseeable future, so now is the perfect time for businesses to adapt their IT to this new remote working landscape.