In the last year, businesses have transitioned from a traditional brick and mortar shop/office to virtual offices from home. For some, the transition was easy. They had the foresight to implement cloud based applications, and digitize their business functions. Businesses that had not upgraded, and were manual at the time of shut down, were not able to keep their businesses running. As you can imagine, this was a make or break time for many small businesses. Luckily, taking your business virtual is not as difficult as you may think. With the right planning and design you can have your business in the cloud before you know it! Please contact CNG IT for assistance taking your business online.

What is Remote Work?

Remote work, or telecommuting, is setting up workers and business applications to be accessible from anywhere, and from any device at any time. Business transactions, job tasks and day to day activities are made virtual or online, with the ability to access and perform job duties with any device (laptop, tablet, cell phone) and an internet connection. Your core business and office applications are available in the cloud for easy access.

Why is telecommuting important and how will it benefit your business?

Setting up your business to be 100% online allows for the flexibility of being able to service your clients and customers from anywhere, at any time. Aside from the pandemic and the emergency shut down that followed, there are several other reasons to have the ability to work remote. By taking your business to the cloud, you can continue to service your customers while taking care of the maintenance issues in your home. Doctors and dentist appointments can be scheduled without the worry of closing your office to attend. Kids recreation activities, games, performances and teacher meetings are easier to schedule and attend because you now have the ability to conduct business from your mobile device (cell phone, tablet or laptop).

How to set up your business for remote connection

VPN Connectivity

There are a couple ways in which you and your employees can work safely and be away from the office. If your business has not made the move to cloud based applications, meaning accessing the application from the web, and still rely on an on-premise server or servers and applications, you may want to consider setting up VPN to your location. A VPN connection allows for any device to connect back to home office via a Virtual Private Network and an internet connection. This is a very secure way to keep your data and connection safe. Once connected to your office network via VPN, your employees are able to continue business as usual. They are able to access any applications that are needed to continue operating and servicing clients and customers. A VPN connection is created and established either with network hardware, or software connection. Let CNG IT help with determining if your existing infrastructure allows for this type of connection.

Cloud Based Applications

A different way to set up your business for remote connectivity is to start moving any and all office and business applications to the cloud. CNG IT has successfully migrated businesses to the Cloud for ease of access from anywhere. Whether you are working with Office 365, or Google Apps, CNG IT can migrate from an installed application on your desktop or laptop, to a cloud version of the same application. Moving to cloud based applications removes the need for a VPN or a connection to the on-prem servers. In fact, moving to cloud removes the dependency for any on-prem hardware. Let CNG IT work with all your application vendors for a migration of their product to the cloud. Once you have your applications migrated, accessing your data will be easy, and you can access it from anywhere, any time of day, usually from any device. Other cloud based products that are available are HRMS systems, Time and attendance systems, CRM systems. Our IT engineers can help with migration or implementation to bring online access to your company.

Telephony Considerations

Over the last few years, telephony has evolved from the traditional PBX phone systems- copper wire to physical telephones and fax machines- to VoIP solutions.  Voice over IP, or VoIP utilizes your internet connection for voice calls.  This removes the need for a PBX system to be installed in your office, as well as the additional cabling required to have extensions at your employees’ desks.  Talk about cost savings!  

The introduction of soft phones took VoIP a step further. This allows for an application to be installed on your desktop, laptop, tablet or cell phone that gives you the ability to make and receive phone calls on that device. Pretty straight forward when you think about using a cell phone to make and receive calls! But from a desktop and laptop too?! Sure! Using the built in speaker and microphone, calls are easily answered and placed. For privacy or a better sound quality, using a wired or wireless headset makes the call seem as if you had a handset in your hand. This technology keeps your business online and available from anywhere and anytime! Can you imagine, taking a call at your desk, then transferring the call to your cell phone so you can get to your next appointment? It is so easy to do! CNG IT can help!

Overcoming “No man is an island”

With employees all working alone in their own homes, the physical connection is lost.  There are no water cooler conversations, there are no quick walk-ups, or lunch impromptus.  Quick discussions become a days long email chain, and with this, the efficiency of being in the office is lost.  There is an absolute need to have every team member feel included and part of the team.  It is also important for those same team members to stay on task and focused.  So what can you do?

We have taken a look at Cloud apps that allow employees to connect and perform work tasks from their home.  We have also discussed how Softphones and VoIP allow business calls to be taken anywhere.  Now let’s discuss Team Collaboration and the benefits of overcoming “No man is an island” theories.  

Collaboration means working together with another person or group to achieve or do something. 

Bringing teams or people together that are physically miles apart can be difficult without online collaboration tools. Thankfully, there are many tools available that bring teams together. Microsoft Teams is a tool that brings office productivity and collaboration upfront and easy. It allows for team chats, as well as individual conversations. You can host online meetings with screen sharing that allows different users to change presenters as needed. There is document sharing with permission based control. This collaboration tool brings all the necessary Team sharing into one place. A quick chat with a team member for a quick question replaces emails getting lost in the madness. You are able to schedule an online meeting, and Teams adds it directly to your calendar. This creates transparency in communications that prevents miscommunication and stops issues when they arise.

Security for Remote Users

Let us quickly touch on how to secure remote users while they access company data.  Make sure to implement end-point security to protect the devices your users are working on.  CNG IT can help with the procurement and installation of this.  Additionally, reviewing Social Engineering topics with your users periodically, and keeping your employees aware of malicious activity can also help.  CNG IT can help develop topics and training to assist your employees in learning and becoming aware of malicious activity, such as email phishing and scams to obtain private data.  Showing users how to keep their devices updated, with current virus and malware definitions, is also very important.  Keeping up to date with online Blog posts to stay aware of what the bad guys are doing is a good way to stay aware.

Post pandemic, we will see many companies keep remote workers at home. There is value with workers being at home, and the flexibility it brings. Whether your company is still at the beginning stages of setting up a remote work environment, or already online with success over the last year, CNG IT is available for all your collaboration and remote needs. We can help design and suggest ways to transform your business for success.

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