If vaccination programs are rolled out effectively and enough people are inoculated, then the United States may very well claim victory over COVID-19 (at least within her own borders). Consumers will soon flock to malls, movie theaters, and arenas, but office workers who were allowed to work remotely are likely to be given the choice to return to their stations or remain where they are. This is because of the many benefits both employees and employers enjoy when they work remotely.
Related reading: Advantages and disadvantages of remote work during a viral outbreak
However, as with any business strategy, proper methods and tools must be employed to ensure that distributed teams work optimally. For this post, we’ll focus on the remote working tools successful New Jersey businesses have utilized to keep their teams productive.
Tools for connectivity
Allowing staff to work from home will yield zero results if they can’t connect to the internet to begin with. The files and apps they need may be easily accessible from the cloud or from your network, but this means nothing if your staff do not have the means to access these.
It may be possible that everyone in your team has internet access, but if their internet service provider (ISP) goes down, that will mean costly downtime for you — unless you’ve provided them with pocket Wi-Fi access points. Such devices are relatively inexpensive and charge separately for data. Mobile phones can also be used as Wi-Fi hotspots, but their data charges tend to be more expensive, so avoid jumping on video calls while using these hotspots.
As for software, consider letting your staff use remote desktop apps. These let staff safely connect with their office computers and work as if they were right in front of their own consoles. The familiarity each staff member has over how they’ve set everything, from file directories to app locations, allows them to get to work immediately, so deploying remote desktop apps will be time well spent.
Tools for communication and collaboration
One of the most underrated perks of going to the office is every team member’s proximity to one another. Do you need a file from your seatmate? Just tap gently on her shoulder. Want to discuss an urgent matter with your team? Just have everyone huddle around you. Unfortunately, distributed teams can’t do those convenient things because everyone’s far apart. This is why you’ll need to rely on many online tools to keep your team together and achieve synergy.
Project management apps
Chat and video conferencing apps
Keeping in touch with one another is crucial to making distributed teams successful — and email alone is too slow and cumbersome for many types of communication. For example, if you need to relay information fast, there’s instant messaging tools. And when you need to brainstorm for ideas, discuss strategies, or share progress reports, video conferencing tools bring all relevant parties together as if they were in one physical conference room. Such tools even boast features such as screen sharing and virtual whiteboards where people can build charts and write down notes together.
Web- or cloud-based office suites
It’s now uncommon for businesses to install programs such as text editors, presentation builders, and spreadsheets as standalone software products. Rather, they tend to subscribe to online services such as Microsoft 365. Most if not all of the office products such services provide enable collaboration by allowing users to work on the file at the same time.
You’ll need to rely on many online communication and collaboration tools to keep your team together and achieve synergy.
Tools for keeping your data secure
Having staff members go to your office means enclosing them in your network perimeter, which is usually well-protected by firewalls and intrusion prevention systems. However, permitting employees to work remotely means that they can access your network from outside the perimeter you set up.
This opens up your network to a slew of cyberthreats. Unvetted devices and apps may be carrying malware. Hackers may be intercepting data communications between your staff and network. Cybercriminals may take over an employee’s corporate account and use it to compromise or steal your data.
To grant remote access to authorized users while preventing access by malicious actors, you’ll need to implement a zero trust security model. To counter man-in-the-middle attacks, you’ll want to use virtual private networks. To prevent online account takeovers, implement multifactor authentication and go passwordless.
Further reading: 5 Proven cybersecurity tips for working from home
There’s so much you need to accomplish IT-wise to keep remote workers productive — and Online Computers is the IT partner you need to help you achieve this. Contact our expert IT consultants today to learn more about what we can do for you.