Some companies have truly embraced remote work, some not as much. But either way, the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, might force us all to work from home for a while. In fact, while the coronavirus threat is expected to curtail IT spending, there is also an expected mass migration to the cloud that should help to counter that. If remote work is a way of life for you, you know all this, but if you’re new to remote work, here’s a few pointers.
Communication is Key
The biggest difference between working remotely and working on site is communication within your team. In most cases, your sales team and service desk work with systems that they can take home with them. If not, well that’s the first thing to think about changing.
Inter-team communication can’t just be over email. Teams or Slack or anything else in that style are the most effective ways to keep communication flowing in real time. These tools have become popular specifically because they help keep your inbox less cluttered. Replace shoulder-tapping with virtual shoulder-tapping.
VoIP is a telephony system that uses the Internet to transmit data. So VoIP systems can transmit a variety of data aside from audio — video, photo, file, etc. The more popular examples of applications using VoIP technology are Whatsapp, Facebook Video and Voice Chat, Skype, and Google Phone, to name a few.
VoIP systems make telecommuting viable. It allows remote workers to connect to one another in real time, at any time. Communication lines aren’t limited to audio; video calls bring remote workers face to face with one another. They can send files back and forth at the speed of a click, leave comments, or edit each other’s work with ease.
One of the best things about VoIP systems is that they’re very affordable. Whether audio or video, so long as it’s sent through the Internet, it’s free. And because VoIP systems have flexible and changeable structures, it’s easy to expand or downsize as needed.
Here are a few ways remote workers can make the most out of their VoIP systems:
- Use a hosted VoIP system. The system is hosted in the cloud, usually maintained by a third-party provider. Being in the cloud means easier access for remote workers from different locations. Having an outsourced provider is more convenient because they have the experience and expertise to ensure the VoIP system is always in tip-top shape. Our favorite providers here are Intermedia Unite, Nextiva and Vonage.
- Choose one with mobile app. This allows greater mobility for remote workers, as they do not always need to be in front of their desktops. And the more mobile your workers, the more agile your company.
- Get one that uses a VPN connection. A virtual private network (VPN) allows different computers to connect safely and securely via the Internet. Remote workers can send and share data without fear of cyberattackers even when they are using public WiFi networks such as those in coffee shops, malls, and hotels.
How does your team manage its work? Again, something like sales is normally very well-instrumented so you know if your sales folks are making their calls. We favor Asana and Monday, but there’s a lot of them out there that can help to keep everybody else on point. It provides managers with the needed visibility into the day-to-day activities of their teams.
The same tools you use for internal comms – Teams, Slack, etc. – can be used for internal calls and meetings. Our favorites are Zoom, and GoToMeeting, these great tools will allow you to host meetings with clients while utilizing video and sound.
Not quite in the cloud yet, but need to access local office resources? That can be challenging at times. We are proud to announce that to date 100% of our customers are setup with a secure remote connectivity via SSL VPN and/or our new favorite “tool on the block” – Splashtop. If you require a direct home to office PC connectivity outside the world of VPNs, look no further than Splashtop. Its safe, secure and best of all cheap!
The secret to a successful, reliable and stress-free remote workforce is a good and fast internet connection. That goes for both ends of the isle – your office and home connections. Our new minimum recommended connection speeds are:
- Offices with fewer than 25 people – a minimum 300Mbps symmetrical up and down speeds.
- Offices larger than 25 people – a minimum 500Mbps symmetrical up and down speeds.
- For homes – we recommend a minimum of 150-200Mbps download speeds and 25-50Mbps upload speeds.
Stick with Fiber or Cable/Coax connections, old DSL connections won’t cut it. We have had a lot of success with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Spectrum, Cox, and AT&T (not U-verse!).
Always resist the temptation to rent your ISP’s “recommended” all-in-one equipment (modem, router, and wifi). These devices cause more issues than we care to mention. Ask your ISP for their recommended modems and research models on Amazon. You will find that paying a monthly usage for an ISP provided modem is almost always more expansive than buying a modem flat out on Amazon.
As for home router and wifi, our all-time favorite is Netgear Orbi, look for devices like Orbi RBK12, CBK20 or the top of the line RBK852. Remember! You will still require a modem with these routers.
Right now, there’s not that many companies doing a full-on remote work program, but that could change quickly. So it’s worth taking a look at your systems today in order to get with any learning curves you might encounter. That way, when you need to implement remote work, you’re ready.
What you’ll probably find is that it’s pretty efficient. If you think about your stack, you probably have some old-fashioned stuff in there. It makes sense that a big shift towards remote work will be baked into normal business practice once people see these advantages.
As always, Wendego IT solutions is here to help. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach one of our IT specialists anytime at 858.346.1567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe and healthy!