Planning for COVID-19: Setting up a remote work environment

 In Connectivity

With more businesses encouraging or directing their people to work from home; you may be wondering how to facilitate this option for yourself or other members of your team.

If you work on a computer and your job role is not customer-facing – that is, you are not required to communicate with customers either by phone or face-to-face – you are well placed to work from home. And if you do need to communicate with customers via phone that’s possible, too.

There are a few things you’ll need to consider, though:

  1. Speed and reliability of your home internet connection
  2. Access to a safe and comfortable workspace
  3. Whether you have a reliable computer at home; or can take yours home from work
  4. Access to your working files and data.

The first two items on the list are up to you; but Proactive IT Solutions can assist with items three and four.

Setting up your home computer

At the most basic level, do you even have a proper place to work at home? Is it ergonomically correct? Working with a laptop on the couch might be fine for a few hours here and there, but if you’re going to be working a full-time week at home a couch and laptop aren’t going to cut it.

You’ll also need to factor in the possibility that others in your home might need work space. What’s the likelihood that your housemate, partner or children will also be “sent home”? In order to work effectively you’ll need a dedicated space that’s distraction-free.

Is your home computer up to the task? And will you be able to monopolise it for eight or more hours a day? If not you’ll need to get a new one; or arrange to bring one home from work.

Security requirements might mean that you can’t use your home computer anyway. Throughout this process of change, you mustn’t forget about IT security and create holes that cybercriminals can take advantage of.

Advice for cloud-based businesses

If your apps are cloud-based, and you’re already using online file storage such as SharePoint or Google Drive; it’s pretty simple to have your permissions extended for out of office access.

Most ProITS clients wont have any restrictions in place and will be able to access SharePoint from home already. If you’re unsure about your permissions or how to access your cloud files remotely, contact ProITS and we’ll get you sorted out.

Advice for on premise server users

People who use data located on a server based in their workplace will need a more complex setup to access their work. You’ll need a virtual private network (VPN) set up; and two-factor authentication to protect it. Proactive ITS will have to do this for you.

Once on the VPN, there are two different ways to go about accessing your office files and applications. Normally, the best way is to remote desktop onto your office computer. Of course, this means your office computer will need to be left at work. If you need to bring your office computer home, you can use it to directly access network shares and applications in a slightly different way.

Your home internet speed needs to be fast enough to support VPN and remote access. As a minimum I’d recommend NBN 100/40 or corporate fibre running at 100/100. If your office is on ADSL it will not be fast enough. If your home is using ADSL you’ll find it difficult, too. You might need to look at purchasing an additional 4G connection to overcome this problem.

ProITS can assist you with all these things. Of course, one thing none of us can predict is how well any of our internet connections are going to hold up if everyone in the neighbourhood is connecting at the same time.

Do you need a phone diversion?

If your role requires access to an office phone for incoming and outgoing calls, and you’re on a 3CX system supplied by Proactive IT; we can set you up with a soft-phone to work directly through your internet connection.

It’s also possible to recommission your desk handset to work from home; but that’ll take a little more work.

If you’re not with ProITS for phones, speak with your telephone services provider about their options.

A final note

Working from home doesn’t have to be an isolating experience. There are plenty of ways to stay engaged with your colleagues online. You could start a private workgroup on your social platform of choice, or use Microsoft Teams.

If you’re working from home and you’re not used to it reach out to colleagues, your family, or your friends. It’s unclear what COVID-19 will mean for Australia in the coming weeks and months. Stay connected, and let’s all look after ourselves by eating well, keeping hydrated and getting enough rest.

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