Today, working remotely is an all-too-familiar workplace solution to unprecedented business challenges.
Business leaders are getting a crash course on the ins and outs of remote work complications as more companies shift to work-from-home business models. Things like data security and work efficiency are top priorities as CIOs stress already taxed IT infrastructures.
Can your existing IT infrastructure handle a remote workforce securely?
As early as March 2020, company leaders and United States senators were worried about the stress more remote workers could put on the internet. Demand for digital real estate (internet usage) skyrocketed as employees increasingly worked from home, students were forced to attend school remotely, and people generally had more time to be online.
Businesses scrambled to create business continuity plans that kept workers working without too many hiccups. Facing these remote workforce challenges surfaced a number of problems, not the least of which was data security.
Typical remote work challenges include:
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as you transition to a remote workforce is an increased strain on your IT infrastructure. More people using more remote solutions means more stress to the network. This can be disastrous if you’re not prepared.
Again, can your existing IT infrastructure handle a remote workforce safely?
Don’t lose your head just yet. Working remotely can be beneficial when done well. In fact, the benefits of working remotely are responsible for increased productivity, employee retention, and worker engagement. That’s why companies strive to create an ideal remote work environment to reap those rewards. The best place to begin as a CIO is to prepare your IT infrastructure.
Here are three things you should have (minimum) on your remote work IT infrastructure checklist:
Remote workers still need to connect to company resources and important internal systems. Bandwidth and hosting services are a real concern. You need to make sure you’ve got enough allotted bandwidth, or that you can make the upgrade at a reasonable price, if you’re having connectivity issues.
Similarly, many companies find that performance and scalability are improved by switching to cloud-based resources.
Cloud-based hosting and data management services help streamline the backend side of your IT infrastructure. Applications within the Microsoft Azure cloud address underlying performance inefficiencies while giving your business more options.
Popular cloud-based Azure applications include:
Many of these services will need extra bandwidth to accommodate the increase in remote work connections. Cost increases and comfortable tolerances should be established and understood before you transition to a cloud-based services.
Microsoft Teams have taken the place of traditional conference room gatherings as more workers work remotely. In addition to bandwidth considerations, the platforms and technology behind teleconferencing or video messaging need to be on your remote work priority list.
Not all video or teleconferencing systems are created equal. It’s your job to understand your company needs and find a solution that works best.
Cybersecurity is often the number one concern related to remote work. Safety issues compound the more people you have accessing your systems remotely, so it’s important to have adequate cybersecurity solutions in place.
Additionally, as users work on personal devices outside of the office, there’s more potential for threat penetration and data disasters.
Remote work security preparations could include:
Companies might choose to employ a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure protected network access. It’s also common to only allow access through company-managed devices to limit potential threat avenues.
Fortunately, work doesn’t grind to a halt when you transition to a remote work environment. At least, that’s the goal. The more preparation you do to accommodate increased remote work, the better off you’ll be. Make network and IT infrastructure your top priority, but remember there are a number of unique challenges that crop up when employees work remotely.
Plan for things like communication troubles and less in-person interactions to help ease any remote work-related stresses. Create a virtual water cooler through a Slack channel or catch up with employees through a weekly Teams roundtable.
The most successful remote work environments are those that complement IT infrastructure preparations with work/life balance alternatives.