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  • Writer's pictureBen Dampney

Coronavirus: It’s time to test working from home technology

Working from home may become a necessity, rather than a luxury, as the coronavirus continues to lock down cities, workplaces and schools around the world.

Working from home may become a necessity, rather than a luxury, as the coronavirus continues to lock down cities, workplaces and schools around the world.

Time magazine is calling COVID-19 the “world’s biggest experiment in working from home”, as governments and companies scramble to minimise the economic impact of the ongoing health crisis.

This week, American tech giants, Twitter, Google and Microsoft, asked their global workforce's to work from home indefinitely and JP Morgan and Amazon tested their remote working capabilities.

The message is clear: now is the time for Australian businesses to consider how they will respond to a more widespread outbreak, including when employees will work from home and what tools you will need to keep your team connected and productive.

IT Hardware and Software

Obviously, employees working from home will need the basics – high speed internet, a laptop or computer, a printer and a landline or telephone. Software to support collaboration is also recommended, including a headset and camera for video conferencing and team meetings.

Businesses will also need to ensure software is installed and configured properly and staff are trained on how to use any new hardware of software provided.

Collaboration Tools

There has never been a better time in history to work remotely

There has never been a better time in history to work remotely, with VPN access, cloud-based storage, video conferencing and instant messaging services enabling entire companies to work remotely.

At Digit IT, we sell, use and support Microsoft Teams for group chat and team collaboration. Teams also enables you to host audio, video and web conferences with people inside and outside your business, share documents and offers integration with Microsoft Office 365.

We also deploy 3CX phone systems which support answering and making calls from your main business number from any internet connected computer or mobile device. Perfect if you’re office is vacated, and your reception staff are working away from the office.

Please contact us today if you would like to set up Microsoft Teams or deploy a 3CX phone system for your business.

IT Security

Security is the biggest issue to consider with employees working from home.

Businesses work on secure networks, but when information is taken out of the office, security is not guaranteed.

Even if you provide staff with VPN (virtual private network) access, a personal computer could still be compromised if someone hacks into their Wi-Fi network. Having other devices connected to your home network can also increase security risks.

The following tips will reduce security risks, but Digit IT recommends you contact us for tailored advice on how to create a secure remote workforce:

  1. Ensure your business has proper measures in place to verify and authenticate employee credentials and login attempts from home.

  2. Ensure a good firewall is in place with adequate VPN licences.

  3. Ensure employees use a non-stored password to connect.

  4. Enforce time-outs for sensitive programs or applications.

  5. Use a centralised, company-approved storage solution.

  6. Limit access to program and files, on a case-by-case basis.

  7. Create a ‘Remote Access Policy’ for employees to ensure staff treat their work-issued laptop, mobile device and sensitive data as if they were sitting in a physical office location.

IT Policies

Companies and large businesses obviously have the capacity and resources to draft and implement formal policies relating to working from home and remote access requirements.

The purpose of such a policy is to define standards for connecting to the company network and how to minimise security risks, including loss of sensitive or company confidential data, intellectual property, damage to public image, damage to critical internal systems, etc.

Please contact us if you would like support drafting a ‘Remote Access Policy’ for your business or if you would like us to review the advice you are planning to give your remote working staff in relation to IT Security.

Test Home Working Technologies

According to news reports, America’s largest bank, JP Morgan, requested 10% of their staff work remotely last week, to test how the firm can continue to serve customers in the event of widespread disruptions.

Businesses now have an opportunity to test working-from-home technologies, before they are required.

Enabling one or two workers, or a percentage of your workforce, to work from home would pick up issues with laptops, video conferencing software, microphones and application access.

Remote IT Support

There needs to be some kind of IT support for remote workers, especially since a lot of them won’t have done this before.

Digit IT’s Managed Services agreements offer a flat-fee for IT Support. Alternatively, talk to us about an IT Project to equip your staff to work remotely.

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