Work from home: IT system setups for businesses

Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, the ability for a business to provide its staff work from home/remote working capability has never been more important. It ensures business continuity while also eliminating the need to commute. In the long term it could also mean lower costs. What more, as more and more workers are getting used to the work from home lifestyle, it could be here to stay.

Below I list and discuss briefly changes/technologies that I think a business could implement to provide an effective work from home system.

1. Laptops

Switching from desktops to laptops allows employees to take their machines anywhere: home, in meetings, hot desking, etc. Therefore, laptops are essential to the WFH setup (except in BYOD situations).

2. VPN

VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows staff to access the company’s local network from outside. This could be required to do different things, like:

  • Access documents
  • Access resources on the local network (e.g. printers)
  • Access/use softwares that requires users to be on the same local network

Some VPN solutions include:

  • OpenVPN
  • SoftEther
  • Cisco AnyConnect
  • Watchguard Mobile VPN-SSL

3. Remote desktop

Remote desktop gives staff remote access to company’s softwares and documents by running processes on a server in the company’s local network and transmitting inputs (mouse cursor movements, key presses) and outputs (screen display, sound) between clients and server.

This means that client machines only need to install the remote desktop client software, or for some solutions simply an internet browser (RD Web Access), to access the office’s local network. This bypasses the need to setup other softwares and in some cases can replace VPN (RDP + RD Gateway).

Some remote desktop solutions include:

  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Service
  • Citrix
  • VMWare
  • Apache Guacamole
  • Amazon WorkSpaces

4. Cloud

Moving things to the cloud, as opposed to on-premises, means better reliability, connectivity, scalability, agility, security, possibly better support, and less hardware management. This can include:

  • Servers
  • Files storage
  • Softwares
  • Tools

A cloud solution can be:

  • IaaS: Infrastructure as a service
  • PaaS: Platform as a service
  • SaaS: Software as a service

Some cloud solutions include:

  • Amazon Web Services (IaaS)
  • Google Cloud Platform (IaaS)
  • Azure (IaaS)
  • DigitalOcean (IaaS)
  • GSuite (SaaS)
  • Microsoft Office 365 (SaaS)

5. Paperless

Going from paper to paperless increases efficiency as processes can be more automated and documents can be sent and received faster. It is also good for the environment

Depending on the type of document, certain additional functionalities might be required, like e-Signature. Also, the process might require modifications to existing softwares as well as possibly introducing new softwares to support the change.

Part of the process also includes communicating with stakeholders of the change, and accommodating them during the transition.

What do you think? Is your business planning to support working from home?

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