We keep hearing on the news and social media about wanting to get back to normal. What is the new normal? Life as we knew it won’t be the same, at least for a year or so, if ever. Having a vaccine might help get things back to normal.
What does it look like for your business? Or your office? For years we’ve gone back and forth on the idea of having employees work from home.
I’ve personally seen some businesses embrace it, and then pull everyone back into an office. I don’t think it’s a one size fits all. For some businesses, a remotely only workforce will work.
For most, I think we’re going to see a hybrid approach. That presents its own challenges. Those companies who have previously used a hybrid approach have had issues where remote employees feel left out. During meetings, they feel like the local people ignore the remote people. Some companies have instituted remotely only meetings. In this case, everyone uses the remote tools to conduct the meeting so during the meeting, no one feels left out.
Depending on the business, it might be easier to make the determination. One thing is for sure, your shipping and receiving department is not going to be working from home. Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc., are not going to be working from home. There are a lot of short sided opinions that would tell you that if your company can’t work 100% remote, you need to get out of the way and rethink your business. That’s 100% wrong. Not all businesses and not all departments can work from home.
Our job is to work with you to make sure that the people you decide to let work from home can do so, and that they can do so securely.
Unfortunately, in the rush to allow everyone to work from home, some companies have cut corners. It is imperative to make sure that you can connect securely, or you will be hacked.
Simply opening your network’s security system to allow remote desktop is not the answer.
Having remote users VPN into the corporate network is not the answer. This creates a scenario where if the home network is compromised, you have just opened a door into your corporate network completely bypassing your network’s security system.
Simply using remote desktop gateway, while being much safer than the previously mentioned methods, is not enough. Anyone with the username and password of one of your users can access your corporate network, from anywhere.
The best method utilizes some form of two factor authentication. And even better if there is reporting to go along with it. Our recommendation is either Trugrid or Remote Desktop Gateway (with added two factor authentication). With Trugrid, the two-factor authentication is included.
We use and recommend Microsoft 365 Business which includes Microsoft Teams for conferencing; however, I also use Zoom. I know that Zoom has received some bad press regarding privacy lately and people have also posted conference links publicly and have gotten upset when other people show up on their conference, but those are items that can be addressed with training. Just like with email, don’t click on a link in a conference unless you are sure about the person posting the link.
When it comes to the conferencing, just like with many of the services offered in Microsoft 365 Business, we’re learning as we go. Guess what? So is Microsoft. When Microsoft made the decision to send everyone home, I knew that that was probably going to be the only positive thing to come out of this. With Microsoft employees using their products remotely, it’s going to improve the overall usability of those products. It’s one thing to theorize how someone could use a product remotely while in your office with a very high-speed internet connection, it’s another to actually use the product outside of the office.
Phone systems are the key item that businesses are going to have to upgrade. Many are still relying on the old, outdated, legacy analog or digital systems. It’s time for those to be upgraded to modern voice over IP systems. Many businesses will be better off moving those systems to the cloud, while others might be better off having the phone system at their office. Either way, the phone system can be accessed either by an app on their cellphone or a web-based interface. We partner with, and recommend systems based on the best use-case for the company. It’s not a one size fits all and it depends upon the usage as to what we recommend.
This is a lot to think about. A lot of businesses are going to have to make changes and adapt to survive.