Few of us realized when we celebrated the New Year that this year would be different. But 2020 will go down in history as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, the coronavirus is sweeping the planet, impacting our health and our wealth. Governments all over the world over are using ‘lockdown’ regulations in an attempt to flatten the curve. One such measure is to require that employees who can work from home, do so.
This has led to mass remote working. But remote working is not a new idea. A recent poll by marketing firm, Buffer, shows that 99% of employees would welcome the opportunity to work from home, at least part-time. The embracement of remote working is translating into a movement, with predictions of 33-million home workers in the EU and USA by 2025; a 65% increase over the current numbers.
But to ensure that remote working is a success for your business you need to do it well. Here are five essential pillars to create a home office environment that works for your business and your staff.
The Five Essential Pillars of Remote Working
The remote working environment needs careful consideration. Building, maintaining, and securing a remote workplace is a process; you must use the best technology on offer and build a culture of home working for your staff.
Our round-up of the five essential pillars needed to establish an optimized home office can be summed up as “Invest Scale Culture Manage Secure”:
Investment of time, effort, and know-how is the foundation of making the home office work. Begin with the basics: Best-of-breed equipment such as laptops and digital workspaces are needed, but don’t forget the importance of a well-designed chair and desk. A good quality ergonomic chair will help ensure your employee is comfortable and prevent aches and pains. This will pay off with improved productivity. Researchers at the University of Southern California found a 17.5% increase in productivity with the “simple addition of adequately designed equipment”.
Lockdown measures have made home working the new normal. From tech giants such as Google and Facebook to small-medium sized business, anyone who is able to offer home working to employees has done so. This change has created challenges in scalability and control. A remote desktop infrastructure can offer a way to overcome this challenge. Although remote desktop software including Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host(RDSH), Citrix XenApp or VMware Horizon is designed for this type of strategic use, use is still limited by the available hardware in your datacenter. A public cloud can provide the scalability your business needs to scale. COVID-19 is a challenge, but it also offers an opportunity for change. Now is the time to look at scalability options in the public cloud. A managed cloud service that supports Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop, for example, is an ideal way to get the scalability on a pay per use cost basis.
Culture is just another word for a positive mindset. To turn any change into a positive move forward, you need to cultivate positivity and acceptance. As organizations embrace the home office/remote working environment, new ways of working have become the norm. Collaboration platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have taken off. A recent post by Microsoft stated that because of remote working they have seen a “significant spike in Teams usage, and now have more than 44 million daily users”. Choosing the right platform for your needs and ensuring that employees know how to use it correctly, is all part of building a culture of remote working. From this culture of remote meetings, good things can blossom. Wasted time in traffic jams, long commutes, and high-travel costs will become a thing of the past.
Having the right management procedures and structures in place for home working devices is crucial to making remote working run smoothly. Investment in ‘Modern Management’ techniques for laptops, iPad’s and smartphones is essential. Modern Management allows an organization to extend its normal internal device control to all company owned devices on untrusted networks. For most organizations, this can be difficult, as they are simply not equipped to manage devices external to the company network. However, implementing a Modern Management approach removes this barrier and makes it possible to enforce security policies and install and patch applications when the device is connected to the internet. This new way of device management is crucial to maintaining and managing corporate devices in a home office strategy.
As you move to a more remote work environment, your endpoints, aka devices including smartphones and laptops, increase in numbers and will move out of your control. In the world of the remote worker, endpoint security is the new first line of defense. As home offices expand, cybercrime will follow. Cisco-Talos, researchers found that the malware, “VPNFilter”, targeted over half a million small office and home routers. The malware infection facilitated ‘packet sniffing’ allowing cybercriminals to steal data and login credentials. Securing endpoint device is essential to maintain data security. Next-generation endpoint protection is needed to manage security policies on all devices that are outside the corporate network. Cloud monitoring and alert generation across this “extended” network is needed to ensure continued security of the corporate Datacenter.
Alignment of Remote Working
Remote working is a cultural, societal, and managerial shift. It is a move towards a more flexible model of working that is symbiotic for both worker and business. Ensuring the home working planets are aligned requires the use of our five essential pillars. Each pillar builds upon the previous as successful remote working is a process and a strategic move, not a tactical one. Whilst COVID-19 has forced the issue, remote working was already afoot. Now that we have all had a taste of the home office, optimizing its use is our next challenge. Being prepared for remote working and having the right tools for the right environment, will allow your business to embrace this culture. COVID-19 may have caused a mass increase in remote workers, but it is likely the beginning not an end, to remote working.
If you’d like to know how to optimize your remote working infrastructure and create a culture of successful home-working, contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org