enabling a remote workforce in a secure and considered manner
What are the key technical, cultural and management considerations for enabling remote working?
Delivering Remote working isn’t just about technology, to be effective it’s a different style of interaction, there are technical enablers, but they need to be deployed in a considered manner to be effective to ensure there are not only functional benefits to the user, but the remote worker is also allowed to be a part of the culture of the business.
The following list are the topics we considered in order to give your users a successful remote working experience.
- Communication and Team Working
- Applications and Licensing
- Security, Compliance and Governance
- Management and cultural interaction
- Devices and peripherals
- Access to on-premise files and applications
- Support and training
Communication and Team Working
To be effective remote workers need access to email, documents, telephony and video conferencing in order to facilitate, one 2 one communication, group collaboration – working together on documents, access to documents and access to systems. A simple yet overlooked feature of working with a remote team is their presence information.
User Applications and Licensing
Whatever your existing license model we can work with you to give your users a suitable remote working experience – there are generally 3 flavours of this experience: Web-Only, Web + Locally Installed Applications, Web, Locally Installed Applications, and Telephony.
Within these 3 user experience types to ensure collaboration and team working facilities we use Teams, SharePoint and Office 365.
Security, Compliance and Governance
Behind the scenes, we can deliver a stack of integrated technology to ensure the correct level of security, compliance and governance – initially in a rapid deployment situation, we give the users a very prescriptive, locked down experience, we then work with you on striking the right balance between security and usability. Using features such as Azure information protection (AIP), Conditional Access (CA) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) we help to keep data secure and tracked. With Device management solutions such as Microsoft Intune we can manage feature updates and security patches, and with advanced threat protection (ATP) we can manage and track the security setup of devices to a granular level.
Management and cultural interaction
There are several differences in the way remote workers need to manage their workloads and receive information, no longer are coffee machine conversations a good medium to spread information and have informal catchups. Tools like Microsoft Planner are a great feature to enable sharing and tracking tasks, and are a great way to focus regular catchups between managers and teams. To ensure that there is a social interaction, a business can deploy Microsoft Yammer allowing users to get engaged with events happening in and around the business, and the Intranet built on technology such as Microsoft SharePoint becomes a real focal point for company announcements, and a place to receive training.
Consideration also needs to be given to appropriate rooms allocated for team meetings, where the attendees may be a few centrally located staff and a few remote users – video and collaboration suitable speakers and microphones should be available to make these gatherings a success.
There are differences also with the type and style of devices that make long-term remote working successful, we often deploy multiple monitors to users to improve productivity in a nice orderly workspace while in the office. Remote working may be in a coffee shop, or on the edge of a kitchen table – in these instances, consideration needs to be given to noisy environments and limited space, also where users are remote, hardware failure issues are more difficult to manage, a process for swapping faulty hardware and tracking and receiving faulty devices needs to be considered. Our list for device considerations would be:
- Mobile Phone device
- Process for hardware support and deployment of new devices
- Secondary monitor – perhaps a lightweight USB style monitor
As mentioned previously, strong consideration needs to be given to the security aspects, where a user may be limited to using their own “home” equipment which could be un uncontrolled and out of date shared device.
Access to on-premise files and applications
The key to accessing on-premise files and applications is to ensure that the endpoint device is stable, reliable and secure – if this isn’t the case, for example in the situation where a remote worker is using a “Bring your own device” computer, then features need to be put in place to limit data access.
The simplest method to allow Corporate devices to access on-premise systems is to deploy a VPN, while this is easy, you still need to ensure the compliance of the device. For other methods of access, you could deploy a remote desktop, or a Virtual desktop and limit the boundary of user access to just this device. For on-premise applications delivering a web based experience, Microsoft’s AppProxy solution may be appropriate allowing security and access to the application to be controlled.
Support and training
On occasion, the requirement for remote working is forced upon a user community, such as in the event of a disaster (fire, flood) affecting a central office. In this situation, often short term additional user support and setup assistance is required. We can provide this support along with training guides for accessing systems, information on how to get support and how to use the technology. No longer are the IT support team in the same location as the users, remote support tools such need to be purchased and implemented. In addition, when a new device needs provisioning, this needs to be rapid, and reduced effort, technologies such as Microsoft Autopilot can assist with this.
Our Rapid Deployment Remote Working offering
Whatever your starting point, when time to deliver is essential, we have a templated, Best Practice approach to delivering remote working facilities, support and training, starting with a readiness audit of environment, using an Agile approach we agree a roadmap of deliverables with particular emphasis on Data security.
Often within days we will have stood up the basics of a secure, well governed remote working environment, covering topics such as:
- Deployment of new devices
- Virtual Desktop deployment
- Conditional Access
- Multi-factor authentication
- Device management
- App Proxy
- VPN deployment
- User Training Guides
- Support for remote workers
- Remote Support tool setup
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