How to Configure Computers to Enable Remote Work Due to COVID-19: A Technical Guide for Leaders

Setting Up Remote Access

The Entire Country Just Went Into Disaster Recovery (DR) Mode. However unlike a DR situation where your office may be out of power or not accessible for a while, you should be able to keep any technical systems that are located in your office running and available. 

If you have systems in the cloud then they are already being accessed ‘remotely’ from your office.  Because of this, your plans for remote work should include secure remote access to your key systems On-Premise or Off-Premise.

Before You Do Anything, Slow Down

According to TIME Magazine, The Coronavirus Outbreak Has Become the World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment

That being said, there are a few key points you need to understand before rolling up your sleeves and diving in to setting up your systems and tools technically.

First – Consider security in every step

IT and Security Departments around the world are being stretched as many companies work on going remote. Of course the hackers will be looking for ways to exploit this situation as well. This is what our security experts call a growing attack surface. Therefore as you progress through the steps for setting up your company for this new reality, our experts can guide you on how to put security first.

Second – Working remotely is not the same as temporarily working from home due to disaster recovery

Unlike DR, asking your employees to work remotely probably represents a change in company policy. Be sure your HR team evaluates your employee contracts. Experts recommend having a Working Remote Policy as well. For more details on this, check the excellent Forbes article by Laurel Farrer: Is Remote Work Illegal?

Since the duration of the COVID-19 impact is unknown, you should treat this as working remotely instead of working from home. According to Inc. Magazine, the term ” ‘Working from home‘ is a temporary situation, while remote working is an entirely different approach to getting things done.”

Third – Collaboration and sharing are key success factors

Working remote is not the same as simply doing on site work at home. Because team members are not able to meet as needed in person, or walk over to a co-worker, the ability to ‘connect’ with each other while remote becomes a challenge well beyond simply setting up the tools. More importantly, if team members cannot easily access or find files and share with each other, frustration can grow quickly.

Once up and running (which is the main focus of this article), there are many other resources to help you be productive and stay connected with team members while remote. For example, How to remain productive while working remotely.

Remote Check List

Here is a list of capabilities you need to have as well as a short sample of tools and approaches often used for working from home. Our recommended solution for Microsoft based solutions is usually listed first, however there are other options in many of the categories as well.

Review this list and decide which of these you may need depending on the role of each person who will be working remote.

  • Remote Access
    • Microsoft Remote Desktop: You can use a Microsoft Remote Desktop client to connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere using just about any device.
    • VLAN: A virtual LAN (VLAN)  may be over kill but required in some cases.
  • Team Chat
    • Microsoft Teams
    • Slack
  • Video Conferencing
    • Microsoft Teams
    • Zoom
    • Google Hangouts
  • Collaboration
    • Microsoft Teams
    • Slack
  • Project Management / Progress Tracking
    • Smartsheet
    • Basecamp
  • File Share
    • Microsoft Onedrive
    • Dropbox
  • Office Suites
    • Office 365
    • Google G Suite
  • Phone System / Forwarding
    • Microsoft Office 365 offers a VOIP phone capability
    • Zoom
    • Each system will have to be evaluated for forwarding / routing capability
  • Internet / WiFi
    • Home Plan: Make sure your personal plan has enough bandwidth to cover your additional needs as well as the family
    • Extender: Depending on the home environment, adding a WiFi Booster may be a good idea
  • Emergency Communication
    • ReadyAlert: A text and email alert system that allows for each respondent to rapidly confirm via text or email that they received the message.
  • Hardware
    • Phone: Good USB Phone
    • Camera: Logitech BRIO for example
    • Headset

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Implement with Security in Mind

“In one quarter we performed 27 risk assessments for organizations in the Tampa Bay area. 100% of those organizations had at least one breach where someone had access from the outside.” – Nate, President

Since each situation is unique, we can help you finalize the list of capability and specific tool sets needed to give your team a solid setup to hit the ground running with their remote work.

Once you have selected the types of access needed and the tools you would like to setup for your team, the next step is to install and configure each tool and access approach with full security. This will include adding monitoring to ensure the safe operation of your systems by remote workers on a continual basis. Start Now