Setting Up Remote Workers for COVID-19
The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 is taking the world by surprise. Our firm immediately received multiple requests to set up remote working stations so that our clients could operate from home. Setting up a remote workstation is something that we know how to do, but we didn’t expect to take almost 100% of our clients to at-home work situations. Some of our clients had made recent changes and improvements to their I.T. infrastructure which made the move to remote working easier.
We put together this guide to help you if you are about to set up your at-home Workstation for this season or for the future. We believe this massive move to at-home work will affect the future of how and where work gets done.
Setting up remote work stations for professional offices takes some careful planning. You must first assess which level of remote access you need. Once you’ve determined the level, there is a configuration that needs to be made. After configuring access you need to do user tests to make sure the users can access everything they need in order to work from a remote location.
Three Levels of Remote Access
There are basically three different types of remote access. All three have some level of installation cost and preparation.
1. VPN Setup
This type of remote access is the least expensive, easiest to set up, and easiest to configure. A VPN provides remote access to the local network of the user and allows them to access anything on their office network. This typically allows them to use their server shared drives and to be able to open and work on files just like they were in the office.
One important thing to remember is this type of access is only as fast as the fastest internet connection on either end (office connection or user’s home connection) and therefore could be slow when accessing large files. If you have a slow internet connection at home, this could get very frustrating.
2. VPN with Remote Desktop
This type of access also requires a VPN setup into the user’s office but instead of accessing files directly from the server, the user then connects to either a Remote Desktop server or to a PC on the network using Remote Desktop. This access requires the user to have a desktop PC setup at the office with remote desktop enabled. Most of our clients’ users have laptops which makes a remote desktop server necessary. Setting up a remote desktop takes a bit of planning ahead as the remote desktop server takes quite a while to set up.
3. Cloud Services
Cloud services is the fastest and easiest for end-users as they would connect to the same cloud services that they use while in the office. This type of access puts all of their data on cloud servers and there is no extra configuration needed. This requires planning and setup to migrate all data to the cloud and then there is a monthly cost associated with the cloud hosting and managed services.
What We Saw
First, no one was expecting a situation where all of their staff would have to work from home all at the same time. This made the move more difficult for some of our clients; however, our clients who had already implemented level 2 or 3 above were prepared for their whole staff to work from home.
For our clients that needed Level 2: VPN With Remote Desktop, it required the purchase of a few more VPN licenses but those are inexpensive and we were able to install them on the fly.
The Need For Remote Video Conferencing
One other thing that we saw with our clients was the need for remote video conferencing. Of course, most clients wanted to use Zoom as that is the big name out there but with so many users signing up, Zoom had some bandwidth (not to mention security) issues. Those security issues have been playing out for everyone to see.
Our users who are on Office 365 have access to the Microsoft Teams app. Microsoft Teams includes a chat application for your entire organization but also the ability to video conference as well. We have used it a few times within our company as well as with clients and it has worked perfectly. We have been setting up a few clients to use this service as well.
We understand that during this season it is necessary to have your whole team, work from home. We also understand that moving forward business may look different and there may be a greater need to have people working remotely. We successfully moved our clients to a remote work situation that is functional. We’d love to help your company be successful with remote staff. Contact us today if we can help.