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Rethink technology for remote work after COVID-19

Jun 05, 2020

Has the novel coronavirus triggered a permanent shift toward remote work? For at least some companies and employees, the answer is a resounding yes. A significant 74% of CFOs interviewed for a Gartner survey shared that they plan to have at least 5% of their previously onsite associates work fully remotely, even after the pandemic threat ends. 

Such patterns require a move away from viewing the physical office as the only — or even the best — collaborative workspace. You also need the right remote work technology to enable seamless communication and productivity over the long haul. That technology typically falls into one of four buckets:

  • Connectivity
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Cybersecurity
  • People and policies

A long-term plan likely requires some adjustments to the strategy, tools or processes that many organizations hurriedly put into place several months ago.

Connectivity: Prioritizing access

The foundation to keeping your business operating while working remotely is giving employees the access to the systems, data and tools they need to perform their daily duties effectively. 

In many cases this means migrating on-premise solutions, like email, file shares, accounting and payroll systems to the cloud. Moving these systems to the cloud allows employees to easily and securely access the information they need to get more done while working remote. Migrating to the cloud isn’t always an option for businesses. 

In these scenarios its best to make sure you have reliable internet, both the employee and the business, and a VPN that can scale to the new demands for secure remote access back to the office. 

More cloud solutions usually means more mobile access as well. To ensure the safety and security of the data being accessed via mobile, mobile devices should connect to the company’s mobile device management. This enables the company to set security and compliance policies on devices that access the company’s data.

Communication and collaboration: Build a cohesive culture

To work together, remote associates need collaboration tools to facilitate phone and video conferencing and chats. For example, Microsoft Teams enables you to share and edit documents (with versioning), so everyone is literally on the same page. You’ll also need a permanent, partly hybrid solution for your company phone system and policies for a phone tree for calls to cascade onto. 

Effective technology can help to foster a cohesive culture. To maintain a sense of camaraderie, host virtual happy hours, online game tournaments or costume contests. 

To simplify this effort, look for collaboration tools that incorporate multiple functionalities. Instead of using Dropbox for files, Skype for chat, Zoom for video conferencing and RingCentral for phone systems, for instance, you can use Teams to effectively provide all these functions.

Cybersecurity: Ramp up robust security

Remote work security goes hand-in-hand with remote work technology. Just as you can’t buy a car without a seatbelt or an airbag, security should be baked into your tech stack. The rise of remote work has increased the number of vulnerable endpoints to your company’s systems so weaving cybersecurity into your very DNA is key.

Set up a VPN as an encrypted funnel. Use multifactor authentication to verify users’ credentials. Train users to recognize and report phishing attempts and ransomware scams. Make password protection a priority. Well-informed and trained remote workers should be your first-line defenses against cyberattacks. 

People and policies: Train on acceptable use

Even if employees have signed acceptable use policies, updates are in order. Remote work technology brings a whole host of new concerns: people who are not associated with your company. Working from home means that children or other family members might grab the nearest device — your company property — and inadvertently download malware or access sensitive or proprietary information. 

Develop new acceptable use policies to cover what’s allowed in terms of devices, when to notify IT in case of a mishap, signing off on password hygiene and more. Train associates on the use and risks of remote work technology. Ask IT to update its mobile device management (MDM) policy and implement tools to encrypt and sandbox company data in devices so that remote work security isn’t an issue for your data.

Whatever your plans are for a remote workforce model, this is the perfect time to evaluate your business processes and discard the ones that don’t work. Harness remote work technology to provide a strong, secure foundation for seamless collaboration and communication in the future.

How Wipfli can help

Our teams can help you evaluate your remote workforce technology and cybersecurity. See the solutions we can provide you with today

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Author(s)

Ryan Peasley
Senior Technology Manager
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Jeff Olejnik
Principal, Risk Advisory Services
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