Today many people are working remotely whether job-based or situational-based. Fortunately, there are many productivity-enhancing work from home (WFH) tools. Faster internet speeds, more sophisticated devices and better collaboration software are also improved. Imagine having to WFH full-time even a decade ago, when these solutions were much less capable.
Even with all the advancements we have there are still numerous challenges. Many households are now in situations in which multiple people are using multiple devices in their home – kids in school, people working and just using screen-time – resulting in major increases in internet traffic. Many states and countries have seen their overall traffic increase by one-third or more (source – spglobal.com), and average download speeds decrease accordingly, although the internet as a whole seems to be holding up well enough.
Ensuring a sufficiently fast and secure experience for remote employees is a top priority for organizations everywhere. So, what’s the best way to do that?
Analyzing the Most Common Challenges in Remote Work
Let’s say your organization previously required most people to work in the same space and now permits or requires regular WFH for the first time. While challenges will vary from company to company, you’ll likely face at least some of the following hurdles.
With most or all people out of the office, you will still need to ensure that they have reliable and secure access to critical applications. Does your corporate network have enough bandwidth, software licenses, and data center infrastructure in place to support a bunch of new remote users?
How you manage this potential challenge will depend in large part on where your apps are hosted:
If you are delivering applications via remote access to your on-prem network, additional bandwidth may be needed for a consistent experience, especially for demanding applications like business intelligence tools. VPN licenses are another concern, as they’re often priced by the number of concurrent users – a figure that will skyrocket once you go remote.
As VPN usage grows, you may also need to check if your firewalls can deliver sufficient VPN throughput. This is a good opportunity to upgrade your firewall hardware so you have enough CPU power to handle all of the increased traffic encryption and decryption.
Beyond VPNs and firewalls, other security measures should get a checkup before going all-in on WFH. Two-factor authentication and privileged access management need to be robust. That way, you can be confident remote users are who they say they are and have appropriate permissions granted to them.
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has been a staple of corporate environments for decades. In the WFH world, it has an even more important role to play, if you can navigate some of its pitfalls.
On the plus side, VDI is a cost-effective way to deliver full remote desktops to end-users, even if they’re using modest (in terms of technical specifications) clients like relatively old laptops. It also centralizes security and management of the desktop’s software, making life a bit easier on the IT department – all of the data from the VDI connection lives on the server, rather than the local device. That eliminates some potential risks, such as those stemming from lost or stolen devices.
At the same time, VDI has some well-known liabilities. Infamous “VDI storms,” during which tons of users sign into the VDI service at once, dramatically reduce performance, as do background antivirus scans. Some applications, such as graphics editors, can noticeably lag when delivered over VDI.
For optimal VDI performance, it’s important to:
● Use an up to date VDI solution.
● Select lightweight but effective VDI security tools.
● Regularly review the VDI setup to ensure it meets remote user requirements.
In the cloud
Cloud-based applications are ideal for remote workforces, as they’re generally compatible with a wide range of operating systems and devices. In fact, software such as Salesforce and Microsoft Office 365 can be run from basically any web browser, in addition to their dedicated apps.
That said, there is some due diligence to perform when setting up and configuring cloud applications for large-scale WFH. Security is a top concern, as is procuring the proper number of licenses.
The success of a WFH initiative often hinges on the quality of the collaboration tools available to telecommuters. While it might seem feasible to simply rely on the same standbys that worked in the office (namely email and phone calls), WFH may require more modern and immersive solutions to help remote workers feel like they’re fully connected.
A video solution is valuable for giving everyone a clearer picture of the people they’re talking to – literally. Being able to see everyone’s faces and body language can overcome some of the most commonly cited hurdles to remote work among employees, such as loneliness and feeling like they’re not communicating well with others. Those difficulties topped the State of Remote Work report from Buffer.
Subpar call quality can be a major distraction when working remotely. Moreover, existing corporate private branch exchanges are a uniquely bad fit for telecommuting, since they’re expensive to maintain and difficult to scale. This is where hosted VoIP implementations can help. VoIP provides better call quality, a wider range of features, and compatibility with virtually any internet-enabled device. Plus, the service provider takes care of maintenance and updates, so that these critical responsibilities don’t fall directly to employees.
Real-time chat services are integrated into modern unified communications suites, and they provide a great alternative to email. Chat services make it easier to share content and resolve issues in less time than would be possible over asynchronous email exchanges. For companies that provide customer service and technical support, chat is also a critical alternative to phone calls, as many people prefer chatting to talking. Chatbots, which leverage artificial intelligence, can provide a realistic conversational experience while also taking pressure off human agents.
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LaSalle Solutions has deep expertise in the technologies necessary for making companywide WFH successful, from UC to security. Learn more by contacting a member of our team today.
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