COVID-19 and The

Remote Workforce

COVID-19 has grown into a global health crisis.  In response, many businesses are having employees work from home or various other locations.  Additionally, travel is being restricted in many cases resulting in the need for remote meetings and a remote workforce.  This is putting businesses in the dire need to transform, at least temporarily, to a remote workforce, or partial remote workforce.  As a result, businesses are quickly pivoting to allow employees to be able to work remotely. While this process usually takes a tremendous amount of time and planning, the current IT environment allows for businesses to quickly and easily flip from a fully onsite business model, to a remote business model.  However, there are several technologies to consider when making the switch.

1. What About Hardware

In many businesses, not all workers have laptops that allow for remote work from various places.  In fact, many businesses have limited to issuance of laptops as a way to reduce cost and increase cybersecurity efforts.  However, this does not prevent businesses from having remote workers using desktops.  With the right tools and procedures in place, remote workers can access desktops in an office location through remote desktop tools on any internet connected PC.  Modern encryption technologies such as TLS and 256-bit AES provide enhanced security for a business network when outside computers are used to access the internal network.  Overall, this allows for a quick migration of desktop users to be able to work remotely.

2. What About Phones

Allowing customers and clients to have access to your business remains a key customer service component.  Additionally, enabling workers to connect with others both inside and outside of the company is key to keeping operations running smoothly.  New modern phones systems utilize VOIP technology and allows for softphones to be utilized.  Soft Phones are simply apps that run on a computer desktop that act like a phone utilizing the computers microphone, speakers, and video capability.  This softphone can be programed to the same extension as the user has in the office allowing them to be connected as if they were sitting at their desk.

3. What About Support

Businesses typically provide IT support via in-house employees, or outsourced third party IT providers.  Regardless of a businesses IT environment, utilizing third-party managed services providers allows employees to be connected to a full support operation, 24/7, regardless of their work location.  This allows the business to be flexible in times of uncertainty and utilize more vast resources to ensure their IT environment remains operational.  Additionally, this support can be utilized by a remote workforce to handle connectivity problems as well as basic computing and communication needs.

 

4. What About Managing a Remote Workforce 

While the technology aspect of a remote workforce can be solved quickly, managing a remote workforce is very different than being in the office everyday.  Most importantly, teams need to be able to collaborate, set deadlines and keep lines of communication open for the business to continue to run efficiently.  Marty Fukuda, a contributor to Forbes, laid out 5 essential keys to leading a remote workforce.

1. Set Expectations - Make sure you set key expectations across a team and individuals so they know when and how to communicate.

2.  Leverage Technology - Use Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, FaceTime or GoToMeeting to enable open communications.

3. Be Available - Make sure you have set time to communicate with others and be available via email, text or what ever means of communication you need to utilize.

4. Remember the Power of Face-to-Face Meetings - Even in today's digital communications environment, there is still tremendous power in face-to-face meetings.  Make sure to utilize video conferencing tools to have frequent face-to-face meetings.

5. Trust Your Team - Trust your team to be productive.  Even though you may not see them in their office everyday, make sure to set parameters and measurable action items and then allow your team to perform.

While the wide-spread development of COVID-19, or the Corona Virus, is not fully known today, businesses and individuals are taking necessary precautions to try to limit the spread of the virus and protect employees.  Deploying the correct technology can be quick and efficient, followed up by quickly pivoting to managing a remote workforce.  IT service providers can quickly help respond to the need to move to a remote workforce with customized solutions that are tailored to the current need on a temporary basis, or for long-term deployment.

Planning for a Remote Workforce and COVID-19

Chris DeAlmeida

Contributor

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