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Working From Home During Coronavirus Outbreak….?

As you might expect, interest in allowing employees to work from home has rocketed in the last few days. This document seeks to outline the key considerations for your business when allowing users to work from home.

Before we outline the possibilities, it is absolutely essential you understand the following:

  • We can absolutely help you and your members of staff work from home.
  • While you may want to focus on convenience, you should take a security first approach.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all solution, even inside the same business.

And you might like to know what a prepared customer looks like:

  • A prepared customer has a leased line internet connection instead of a domestic grade ADSL or VDSL line.
  • A prepared customer has a decent router that supports multiple VPN connections.
  • A prepared customer has already issued company owned laptops to users.
  • A prepared customer has a cloud based IP phone system.

You may not be prepared, but we can still help.

Users without Company Devices

Users that have not been issued a company owned PC or laptop should under no circumstances be allowed to connect directly to any company network or data asset from their home. There are simply far too many security implications for this to be a viable option. Instead we can help you to configure indirect remote access to their work computer via a third party remote control service. This approach ring-fences your data assets safely on the business network and oversight is retained.

Requirements & Costs

We make a flat charge of £50 + VAT per year for a Managed Remote Access account. We install suitable software on the end users work PC and home PC that will allow them to control their work PC from home. The service is managed by us and includes an audit trail. Setup time is charged at usual rates. You can make other arrangements however if you do so you may lose oversight on who has access to what and this may present a long-term security risk.

Advantages & Disadvantages

By taking this approach you are avoiding the cost of having to purchase computer equipment for your member of staff and as long as your employee does not use the file transfer tools to move company data to their own PC, your data is safe. You should write a policy that covers this eventuality. Unfortunately this type of remote access is more bandwidth intensive than alternatives and so will reduce the performance of the internet connection at your main site. If you have a leased line then you will not have many problems but if you are still depending upon domestic-grade ADSL or VDSL connections then you will likely notice the impact pretty quickly.

Users with Company Devices

Users that have been issued a company owned PC or laptop can be allowed to connect directly to the company network or data assets. For cloud based services such as email, the computer can connect directly via the users own internet connection. For physical server based services such as file shares or line of business applications the computer can connect into the company network using a VPN. Some operations can then be performed locally on the computer, some operations will be best done by remote desktop into the users work based PC. This approach is the most flexible and allows us to maintain a good level of data security and oversight for users that are not physically in the office.

Requirements & Costs

The costs for setting up a VPN between a company owned PC and the company network are variable and very much depend upon your site. Many customers have a good quality router that supports inbound VPN and so no extra hardware is required. Some customers that have not invested in their infrastructure in the same way may have to have router upgrades to accommodate a robust VPN. We can quote you for a suitable router once you make an initial enquiry.

Advantages & Disadvantages

By issuing a PC to your workers at home you can be sure that we can legitimately keep an eye on security. You should ensure your IT policy ensures that your users treat their home based IT with as much care as they should treat the IT at their usual place of work.  VPN based remote desktop is more bandwidth efficient and users can maintain an offline files cache to ease the burden of data transfer when the connection between work and home slows or drops completely. Even so, VPN users will reduce the performance of the internet connection at your site. If you have a leased line then you will not have many problems but if you are still depending upon domestic-grade ADSL or VDSL connections then you will likely notice the impact.

What about phones?

If you have a cloud based IP phone system like RingCentral, it is really easy to have staff be available on the end of the phone just as if they were in the office. This can be achieved either by moving physical handsets to home or by installation of applications on mobile devices or computers. If you have an older style phone system that is limited to a physical location then you should talk to us about migrating you to RingCentral.

An extra note about internet connection…

Customers that have not upgraded to a leased line WILL experience a slow down in their internet connection, impacting users at the usual place of work and remotely. If you want a quote for an internet connection that will better cope with multiple remote workers you should make contact today.