What a Remote Set-Up (and Upkeep) Looks Like in the Face of a New Work From Home Reality

By Elizabeth Clor

If you’re reading this, you likely got here thanks to home wifi. And the implications of that mean much more for your company than simply connecting employee hardware to employer networks.

So far, the mass work from home movement is one that employees find successful. A recent survey from Github found that 56% of remote workers believe everyone can contribute to a company’s outcomes and direction under all-remote conditions. But for IT departments, an entirely at-home workforce in the face of COVID-19 converts once theoretical scenarios of connecting, securing and servicing the network and IP demands of all-remote workforces into a stark reality. And facing that reality comes down to a measured approach to deployment and upkeep for IT teams across every industry.

Deployment for Remote Employment

IT administration is a key element of companies moving toward all-remote operations. And teams that pool expertise from both internal and outsourced teams need to collaborate from afar, too. In addition to regular workflows, IT teams now need to focus on securely migrating platforms and communicating remote work best practices or policy shifts to remote workers.

The responsibility lies with IT teams to help remote workers understand any changes to IT protocols, administration and infrastructure needed as they work to balance home life and work life. Similar campaigns to educate executives and staff usually follow technology upgrades, corporate leadership changes or department-wide adoption of new software or tools. Now, teams have to configure IT infrastructure and administration for everyone from the CEO to the newest hire—and run it smoothly without on-premise teams managing issues from their desks adjacent to the server room. 

To make the transition as smooth as possible, IT leaders should ask (and answer) key questions before too much time passes: 

  1. Will on-premise security protocols carry over to protect information and employees who access servers from external locations? 
  2. Should we enlist a VPN for sensitive file sharing from remote locations? 
  3. Will servers withstand remote employees accessing, sharing and downloading data around the clock? 
  4. Do we need to purchase IP addresses or specific backend data security to enable and safeguard remote operations?

IT Support for Colleagues Far and Wide

An all-company work from home model comes with some immediate challenges that IT teams should be prepared to face. Remote workforces commonly share less-than-ideally secure home wifi with spouses, roommates or kids. And in the face of the pandemic, those housemates are likely working remotely or doing school work remotely. Some people are working from kitchen tables with low speed internet that buckles under the weight of back-to-back video conference meetings. Plus, sensitive operations require the use of remote VPNs—which would generally require some hands-on IT coaching. 

The IT disruptions people encounter today are as diverse and universal as ever. However, corporate IT support is now a call, email or video meeting away regardless of the strength of a company’s in-office setup, infrastructure and service desk. For the foreseeable future, companies that haven’t already, should consider moving support ticket processes to a fully digital operation with a focus on network connectivity and security. They should also consider dedicating a work chat channel (if they use platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams) or a corporate email alias to begin addressing remote IT problems directly with impacted employees. 

To cater to every remote worker, companies should also think about offline options for IT emergencies and system errors that impact a company’s ability to operate. One path could be a single phone number with a rotating cast of IT professionals fielding requests or a dedicated voicemail inbox that can be remotely accessed by IT teams in response mode.

Developing an IT FAQ for the WFH Era

In the immediate future, IT professionals need to step up and deliver clear guidance for both their colleagues to ensure productivity can stay steady and employees can feel connected to colleagues. They should focus on making it as easy as possible for employees logging on to access company platforms and resources from home. Department leaders need to be clear about what IT can do to help newly remote workforces set up shop, connect to servers and proprietary IP addresses (as needed) and respond to technology issues from afar. 

IT departments should consider circulating company-specific, but position-agnostic best practices and FAQs that employees can easily digest—whether it takes the form of a microsite, a wiki, a shared document or steady stream of email communications from department leadership. As companies from every sector join the global fight against COVID-19, it’s important for their IT teams to play a crucial and direct role in keeping corporate operations that rely on digital platforms, tools and servers running from a social distance.

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