Working Remotely in The Time of Coronavirus
Remember the days when working remotely felt like a perk? Or when it was something reserved for employees who were traveling, or someone who had a cold and felt well enough to work, but not well enough to come into the office? For relatively few employees, working remotely was something they did once or twice a week to cut down on time spent commuting, or when they took a new job, until relocation arrangements were made.
The world has changed in the months since the novel coronavirus jumped from animals to humans and people began coming down with the disease we now know as COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease – 19). By February 1, 2020, there were 14,553 known cases and 304 deaths. In the space of 2 months that increased to over 1.2 million cases worldwide and over 65,000 deaths, and the disease is continuing to spread with geometric rapidity.
Governments worldwide have responded by ordering businesses to shutter their offices. In many countries, all employees who can work from home have been requested to do so.
Companies that in the past regarded remote working as a nice-to-have are suddenly finding that robust remote work arrangements are essential for staying afloat. Many IT departments that paid scant attention to remote access solutions have discovered that their remote working tools are simply not up to the task of supporting organizations that are now fully remote.
If, like many other businesses and organizations, you are suddenly faced with finding ways to make your remote working solution more robust, more secure, and easier to use, read on.
Features to Look for in a Remote Working Solution
These are the key features companies need to enable employees to work from home or the road, without hassle or frustration:
- Capacity – Systems that were designed to support 20% of employees remotely will not be able to support 100% of the workforce working remotely. Solutions that can scale with minimal friction are a must.
- Security – Remote access can increase vulnerabilities. More remote users mean more opportunities for someone’s credentials to be compromised or their connection to be hacked. That’s why solutions like Zoom, that were not designed with security in mind, have recently made the wrong kinds of headlines.
- Ease of use – the learning curve for a remote working setup should be short and flat. The solution should allow employees to work the same way they do in the office to the greatest possible extent.
- Minimal need for support – providing tech support is a challenge when everyone is working from home. You want the need for help desk assistance to be kept to a minimum.
Remote Desktops (Virtual Computing) – an Ideal Remote Working Solution
Remote desktop solutions can provide all of the features needed for an optimal remote work setup. With a remote desktop, user continue to work on their office computers (or a virtual computer on a server). All data remains on the workstation or desktop and computing is done there as well. The user’s device or client simply displays what’s happening on the computer in the office.
Compared with the traditional method of providing remote access – logging into the company network with a VPN and having computing done on the remote device – virtual computing has several important security benefits:
- Since no data is saved on the remote device, there’s no risk to sensitive information if an employee’s laptop or other device is stolen or lost.
- Software updating and other important data hygiene procedures are done in the office.
- IT need not worry about managing software on different devices. In fact, with a “clientless” solution, such as Ericom Connect, there’s no need for software or plugins on user devices – any HTML5-compatible browser works as a client.
Remote desktops also benefit from sophisticated security capabilities that are available in the office, such as Remote Browser Isolation for protecting endpoints from malware on infected websites.
Ease of Use and Support
With a remote desktop, the user doesn’t have to learn any new software – everything works just as it does from the office, because it is running on the computer from the office. With only one password needed to access the system remotely, there’s less exposure from weak or reused passwords. With a clientless solution, no software needs to be installed or supported on the user’s device.
There are also a lot of cost savings when using a remote desktop model – users can use bare-bones systems, such as inexpensive Chromebooks, to access the network. This is an important consideration for a company or educational institution that suddenly needs to connect a large number of employees or students with from-home devices. Engineers can access powerful workstation computers in their office or lab on less-costly devices that don’t have the beefed-up computing capability they need for their work or their research. See Cost Savings with Virtual Computing for more on this works.
Today, the global economy is being stressed in a way that hasn’t happened since World War II. Businesses, governments, educational institutions and nonprofits are all struggling to adapt to a new reality that will probably last 12 to 18 months. A state-of-the-art remote desktop computing solution, such as Ericom Connect, can make it much easier and safer to manage staff that is working remotely. Ericom Connect is agentless, scalable, and simple for employees to use. Importantly for these dynamic times, it’s a solution that can be deployed in hours, not days or weeks.