Working remote can be daunting, whether it is your first time or not, adjusting to a new workspace often creates new challenges. As we begin to find a balance, we can continue to learn from others that have already made the leap. To that end, in this article you’ll find some tips, suggestions and best practices for people and organizations that have made the switch to remote work so they can make the transition smoother for everyone involved.
1) LEAD WITH CLEAR GUIDELINES AND EXPECTATIONS
It’s crucial to set proper expectations and goals for employees that are working remotely. This can include scheduling, policies, technologies, remote data access and security. For example, if employees can access the office building for certain critical needs then communicate this clearly and with great detail, so everything is done safely and thoughtfully.
2) UTILIZE THE PROPER SECURE TECHNOLOGY
Ensure the proper technology and resources are in place or slated to be available soon. It’s critical for leadership to ensure that the proper technology-based tools like internet, collaboration, messaging, video conferencing, file and document sharing, etc… are available.
Below are some of the key technologies that allow for a secure, efficient and productive workplace:
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA is an authentication method in which a computer user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence (or factors) to an authentication mechanism: knowledge (something the user and only the user knows), possession (something the user and only the user has), and inherence (something the user and only the user is). MFA is often one of the cornerstones for stronger security architectures like NIST and Zero Trust.
Identity Access Management (IAM)
A truly productive remote workplace starts with managing identities. Identity and access management are about onboarding, defining and managing the roles and access privileges of employees, and how privileges are granted or denied and at what level. It’s literally the keys to the kingdom and like MFA, is often one of the cornerstones for stronger security architectures like Zero Trust.
Securely managing a wide range of users and devices can be very challenging. Therefore, it’s critical that you choose a strong endpoint management solution that allows you to see and effectively manage your entire extended environment from a single console. Additional benefits like location-based filtering and analytics can make the proper solution very valuable.
Support Bring Your Own Device
In a primarily remote work environment where your remote employees are working and bringing their own device like their mobile phone, tablet, etc…, it’s important to have policies, processes and technologies that support this approach. Remote employees are often more productive when utilizing their own devices due to ease and familiarity, so supporting this can have a positive output.
Secure Access to Line of Business Apps
Having easy and reliable access to the line of business apps you use daily to execute your job and meet your goals and responsibilities is critical. Many organizations can provide access to LOB apps, but struggle when doing it at scale, especially using VPNs. Thereby it should be a top priority for a remote workplace to have the capability to provide proper access to these apps accordingly.
Your organization will see a surge of traffic emanating outside of your perimeter and its firewalls as the remote workforce grows. So, having the capability to monitor security, application and network performance is critical. Service monitoring and SIEM products can be leveraged to provide this capability and allow for alerts, notifications and diagnosis quickly. One of the most frustrating things for remote workers is not having reliable and consistent access to the business applications that they require.
Secure Your Data
Data security is one of the most important steps an organization can take with a large remote work environment that has numerous remote workers accessing the organization’s critical data from outside its perimeter.
3) ENSURE COLLABORATION
Employees working from home for the first time may find remote work requires some adjustments. So, keeping the team connected and collaborating using web conferencing tools can reap numerous benefits and drive productivity. Also, recording larger or important meetings for those that couldn’t make it is an important capability that will keep everyone up to date.
4) MEASURE PROGRESS AND RECOGNIZE THE WINS
Take a lesson from agile teams and start a virtual project board. How can your organization measure the productivity of its remote workforce? Many top organizations that effectively measure employee productivity are not relying on anything related to a physical location.
Candidly, most well managed remote teams are often more productive than their co-located peers. This is because performance has more to do with measures rather than “time spent at an office desk.” Three of the primary measures of success for many remote and virtual organizations is the quality of their updates, production metrics like sales or how they deepen the relationships with customers. Recognize and possibly reward those that achieve early success working remotely, especially early on.
5) BE FLEXIBLE AND SMART
Organizations that let their employees work remotely often require flexible schedules.For example, many employees may have kids at home and need to coordinate proper child supervision. So, a flexible schedule allowing them to work at times that best work for their revised schedule can lead to stronger loyalty, a happier environment and a more productive remote workplace.
In summary, many organizations have found that having a large remote workforce can have substantial benefits and even lower organizational costs. Therefore, it’s important to go into it optimistically to fully realize the benefits and invest in a proper remote environment.