While the shift to a remote workforce had been gradually evolving over the last decade, 2020 accelerated the move to remote work. Many businesses are now embracing either an entirely work-from-home culture or a hybrid model where employees split their time between an office and a remote location.
A recent survey from PwC reinforced what leaders and business owners have been hearing from their own teams – more than half of employees who were sent home to work during the pandemic prefer to continue to work from home at least 2 days a week. Nineteen percent of all employees surveyed prefer to work remotely entirely. The old paradigm of a 40-hour workweek, bookended with a morning and evening commute, is quickly changing.
The key to a successful remote workforce is a solid technology infrastructure and IT support. Technology plays a critical role in access to resources, collaboration, and most importantly, security. What current technologies can help a remote team? Let’s look at how technology supports a remote workforce.
Critical Cybersecurity for Remote Workers
A successful, efficient remote work platform requires several key technology resources that provide a seamless, secure work experience. With the staggering increase in cybercrime in 2020, the highest technology priority for any business, especially those with a remote team, is cybersecurity.
Last year more than 90% of companies worldwide experienced some form of a cyberattack whose aim was to steal passwords. For businesses with remote employees, a solid, strategically developed infrastructure can help prevent cyber threats while also providing ways for employees to work efficiently and stay connected.
Several technologies that are critical for a secure IT infrastructure include:
- VPN: VPN, or a virtual private network, is a service that both encrypts data and hides IP addresses by bouncing network activity through a secure chain to another server miles away.
- Network Security: Network security is the use of technologies to defend a network and network-accessible software and hardware from cyberattacks and misuse of company data. Depending on the type of business, network security can include firewalls, anti-malware, and data loss prevention (DLP).
- Access Controls: For a remote team, access controls can help business owners allocate different levels of access to sensitive documents on a server. Access control is a security process that regulates who can view and use resources on a network. Access control minimizes risk to the business or organization and reduces the risk of a cyberthreat.
- Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Multi-factor authentication is when a user must provide two or more pieces of evidence to gain access to a digital platform or resource. This extra layer of security is used to protect against hackers by ensuring that digital users are who they say they are.
Communication Technologies for a Remote Workforce
One of the challenges of the abrupt move to a remote workforce in 2020 was the immediate disruption to face-to-face communication and routine day-to-day conversations. Because nonverbal communication makes up 60-80% of communication, it’s important for businesses to integrate a visual platform for communication in addition to digital communication products (think chat programs like Slack).
Successful remote teams have several information technology resources available to them to encourage communication including:
- Google Workspace: Google Workspace is a platform that provides several collaboration and workspace tools to make remote work easier for employees. Files can be shared on a secure platform, projects can be collaboratively edited from a central location, and communication tools that allow chatting and video and voice communication are available.
- Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is a platform that allows for instant communication, file sharing, and collaboration. Users can chat with the colleagues in real time, or even place a video phone call with one click. Files can be shared through chat, eliminating the need to send files as attachments via email. Other resources on Microsoft Teams include VOIP, screen sharing, webinars, and online meetings.
- Video conferencing: Years ago, a video conference felt foreign to many employees. Video conferencing exploded in 2020, with several platforms breaking through as leaders. In addition to Google and Microsoft, Zoom has risen to the top with their easy-to-use platform for video conferencing. Many products can host hundreds of attendees with ease.
- VOIP: The traditional landline phone system is becoming obsolete, especially without employees working from a shared office of location. VOIP, also known as voice over internet protocol, is a solution that connects users to each other immediately. VOIP is built in to several platforms including Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Support Services for Remote Workers
A robust remote work program not only includes the apps and services employees need to perform their job but also supports technologies challenges and backup and disaster recovery.
Several approaches to IT support services include:
- Remote Help Desk: When employees are working in the same building as their information technology colleagues and have an IT challenge, they often walk to their office for a quick fix to resolve issues. With remote teams, minor technology challenges can become a huge frustration without the proper process and support in place. Having a remote help desk in place with an automated help desk ticketing system provides remote employees access to technology help.
- Backup and Disaster Recovery: While disaster recovery for on-premises infrastructure and data centers has become standard for most companies, moving applications to third-party cloud solutions to support remote work creates a unique challenge. When companies move to cloud-based applications such as file-sharing and storage, they need to do due diligence to ensure those vendors are following the best practices for disaster recovery to ensure their data is safe. Properly secured cloud-based solutions are a great way to backup and restore data in case of hard drive malfunctions, cyberattacks, and natural disasters.
Managed IT Services for a Remote Workforce
At Everound, we understand the unique information technology challenges of businesses with a remote workforce. We can help identify areas of improvement and customize solutions to help meet the needs of a fully remote or hybrid business model.
Interested in learning more? Reach out today for a free assessment to see if your current IT infrastructure is fully supporting your remote team. Let us focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.