Making remote working work
How can you make sure your business is best is placed to face the disruption being caused by coronavirus (COVID-19)? Fully understanding how a remote working solution can benefit your business both in the short and long term, is the ideal place to start.
Why a remote working solution and what are the benefits?
This article is going to try to help you to ascertain the best way of achieving remote working and of making sure that it works for all of your employees, it will be something many of them have never done and may not want to do, so facilitating a smooth transition for them will ensure your business experiences as little disruption as possible.
COVID-19 is going to disrupt across all verticals, some industries and businesses, will be affected more negatively than others. For many roles within these businesses, remote working is not an option, for desk bound office workers, work can carry on. Ideally, you would already have a tried and tested remote working solution in place as part of a business continuity or disaster recovery (DR) plan, to make sure all employees can perform their day to day work, not in the office but at home, or anywhere else they may need to. If you don’t implement one as soon as possible to ensure you don’t suffer any downtime.
There are number of factors to be analysed, when deciding on the best solution, cost is of course a major consideration, the type and complexity of solution will determine this. Depending employee roles, some less expensive, less “technical” solutions will work for those employees, for others using role specific, software applications and needing to facilitate multi-screen working, a more technical, solution may be required, to ensure these employees can work remotely to the same level as they would normally in the office.
RDP (remote desktop protocol) or VPN (virtual private network) type remote working set up, can be, a relatively quick and cost-effective way of setting your employees up to work from home, for many cases this will work very well. There are issues when users are using more resource hungry applications, requiring multiple screen usage, e.g. trading applications, those used in banking and financial institutions. There can be issues with connection, RDP can be heavy on bandwidth and with the whole family at home all trying to access what they need to it can prove frustrating
Utilising virtualisation software, for example, Citrix, VMWare or Teradici PCOIP will give users a much better remote working experience.
One option is to invest in hardware and build your own private cloud environment, the big advantage of this is your data remains on domain and you retain control, the disadvantage, there is a considerable up-front cost and it can take a while to take delivery of hardware, particularly at the moment, everyone is in the same boat after all.
Or you can pay for instances with a public cloud provider, Azure for example, this can prove expensive and complicated to set up, are the resources on offer going to be good enough for your applications? From experience managing the costs proves challenging and costs can spiral.
Another viable option is Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), which sits somewhere between the two. As with the on-premise solution, you can provision bare metal servers to ensure optimum performance for your workloads, the difference being, these servers, are hosted, in the cloud. You can amortise the cost to you pay a, per user, per month cost, from experience and certainly with what is going on at the moment, this is the fastest method to set up and will take care of your immediate need for remote working as well as provide a viable long-term alternative to workstations, so you can leverage all of the many benefits this sort of solution provides.
Once you have decided on the approach you want to take make sure your employees are equipped with everything they need and make sure you schedule regular virtual interactions, video conferencing and phone calls especially early on as it can take time to adjust to working away form the office, some employees will have only ever worked in an office!
Some advice for those new to homeworking to help with the transition:
Start your day as if you were going to the office, shower, take breakfast and dress appropriately, working from home is not an excuse to be lazy in this regard and it will set the tone.
Think of your home working environment as a dedicated workspace, if pets and children aren’t allowed in the office try to keep them away while you are working, if you can shut a door that will make it much easier to do this.
Having said that, you need to be disciplined and remember that, just because you work from home doesn’t mean your available 24/7.
The hardware being used is worth taking into consideration, with many workers requiring dual screens or more, how can this be facilitated?
Using a Webcam for internal meetings etc. helps to maintain rapport with team members and will also help with customer engagements, face to face, all be it virtual, is always better than the phone.
List priorities for the day/week ahead, you will be able to review what you have accomplished, prioritise what you haven’t and share it all with team members.