High-profile companies such as Google and Amazon have already insisted that staff adopt a work-from-home policy where possible. For modern tech companies, the infrastructure and policies needed for remote working are unquestionably already in place and many staff members are probably already laptop users.
However, for many smaller companies and organisations the situation is likely to be very different and remote working is probably unfamiliar and untested. The Education Sector is a good case in point: universities have been delivering distance learning as a feature for some time, while primary and senior schools are mainly dependent on staff and pupils being on-site to learn.
As businesses and education providers adhere to the Government’s recommendations, the way in which we conduct our operations need to change. By increasing the number of remote users, it will have a massive impact on our online resources and an increase in an exchange of data.
The good news is that thanks to a range of cloud services and technologies provided by the industry, and the increased adoption and deployment of cloud by UK organisations, employees are able to access the computing infrastructures, platforms and services they need to work from any connected location. These can include telephone systems using VoIP, video conferencing, business apps, email, file sharing and much more.
As the dependency on the Cloud ramps up it is important to remember that you cannot have a cloud setup without a data centre.
There are questions to ask yourselves before you make the decision on whether to choose a Cloud Provider or invest in your own data centre or rent space in a colocation centre.
- How important is latency? (how much time it takes for a data packet to travel from one designated point to another. Ideally, latency will be as close to zero as possible)
- How secure will your data be?
- Are you thinking of expanding or downsizing and how easy and cost-effective would this be?
- How accessible will your data be? Can you access it 24/7/365?
- How reliable will the solution be? How likely will you experience any downtime?
Importantly, companies and organisations also need to prepare themselves and their employees for the increased cybersecurity risks associated with remote working.
- Log out when not in use – both at home and in public places. An inquisitive child accidentally sending an email to the boss or a customer is easily prevented.
- Set a password ensure that laptops/PCs require a password on booting up the system, set inactivity timeouts, and ban sticky notes with passwords on them: people still do this!
- Never leave the device unattended even if it is on the kitchen table, thieves are very opportunistic especially if they can see it through a window.
Making sure that you have an adequately trained IT help desk or support function will also assist in dealing with those niggling teething problems.
Working from home has its own set of challenges, but this flexible way of working could be the difference of staying in business and closing the doors and more importantly it will save lives!