How easy is it for your clients to contact you when you are out of the office?
- Money spent on forwarding calls to mobiles when employees are out of the office
- Loss of business opportunities due to customers not being able to contact or speak to the right people
Is it time you set up remote working for your employees?
Image credit: “Professional Couple Working From Home” by Ambro
Remote working means that employees can work from home, at client sites or when out on the road. With applications such as unified communications, remote workers can access all their emails, voicemail messages and files in one place. The flexibility that comes from allowing employees to work this way can increase efficiency and productivity amongst your workforce.
This document is intended to provide guidance for setting up remote working. Ask your IT department to set things up for you. It’s easy to facilitate and won’t cost you the earth. If you don’t have specialist IT support, you can contact a reputable telecoms supplier for advice.
What do you need?
A secure connection
If you have a network server, you can allow external access to files via the internet however, you may wish to consider a more secure virtual private network (VPN). A VPN is an extension of the office network that provides a secure link for remote workers. Connection is via the public internet, but with data accessed through a secure channel.
Remote email or applications such as Windows Remote Desktop are also ways of accessing data. Other options include public services, such as PC Anywhere or The Cloud.
Employees working from home need to ensure they have a reliable and secure broadband connection, whilst smartphone and tablet users should consider fast 3G or 4G data connectivity.
Redirecting calls from the office to a mobile phone or another landline is possible with forwarding telephones. ‘Call Forwarding’ options are available on most telephone systems. If you operate a cloud telephone system, you can use voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to re-route calls over the internet.
Smartphones, mobiles or tablets, often referred to as bring your own devices (BYOD) can be used to work remotely. Models with fast access to the internet and good battery life can be reliable devices. Employees using these should consider the model they choose, if they are required to carry them around from place to place. Choose a lightweight device and purchase a strong case to protect it. Also, make sure that the device is compatible with your network server so you are able to send and receive company emails.
Video conferencing allows virtual attendance of employees at meeting wherever they may be.
What are the risks?
Security of company data and files is the biggest risk when allowing employees to access the company network remotely. However, by putting guidelines in place and ensuring that employees adhere to these at all times, this will reduce the risk.
- Never allow staff to connect using an untrustworthy source. In order to reduce the risk of hackers accessing your system, remote workers should only connect using a secure line.
- Use strong passwords and ensure those with access do not share them. Never store passwords on your devices.
- Make sure remote workers completely log out when they have finished working and do not allow them to use the ‘remember me’ facility for passwords.
- Look for a padlock symbol in the browser window of the log in page. This shows that the encryption are secure, as does a page beginning with ‘https://’, whereby the ‘s’ denotes ‘secure’.
- Ensure you have a secure firewall and that access to this and your server and routers are restricted. Test it regularly and keep it up to date. You can also look at the server logs to check who has accessed and when.
- Remove access for employees who have left the company.
- When in public areas, check for people listening in to conversations or looking over your shoulder at sensitive information or passwords.
- Never leave your device unattended or on show in your house, car etc.
- Make sure that employers working from home are able to have any problems fixed remotely.
Setting up remote working for your employees is easy as long as you follow these guidelines. Allowing staff the flexibility to work this way will reap rewards for your company. It requires trust on the employer’s part. You can monitor activity using tracking data, but only if you feel this is necessary. Agreeing regular updates and catch-up meetings in the office should be sufficient to bring both remote and non-remote workers up to date with each other.