‘Tis the most wonderful time of the year. Malls are more crowded than ever before, children are catching colds, and snowstorms threaten to put a halt on mass transit systems making it impossible for employees to get into the office.
Weather during the holiday season is a particularly large threat. Productivity plummets because old man winter decides to rear his ugly head – usually during a heavy workload too.
For small businesses, this steep drop in mercury means an equally steep drop in output from employees. But in today’s world, there’s a solution to this common struggle.
Setting yourself up for success with technology.
With technology, there’s little reason you have to shutter your windows during blizzard season. Let’s be clear. Although all your team needs is a computer and Internet connection to start work, that’s not the most secure or efficient way to manage your team remotely this holiday season. Providing your business with the right technology goes way beyond giving your employees a nice laptop.
With a little bit of preparation, you can keep your team productive come rain, shine, snow, or flurry. Here’s how.
Give Your Team Secure Access to Your Business
Do you know how secure your team’s wireless connection is? Are your employees logging in from their sofa, or are they heading to the closest coffee shop to connect to your business using a public (and insecure) network?
To work, your team needs to be able to access their files. To access these files securely, one common way is to utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It is important to note, that even with a VPN, anytime your employee utilizes an open wi-fi connection (like the ones found at starbucks) they are making themselves vulnerable to cyber criminals accessing their system, as well the data on the VPN. For this reason a private wifi connection is always preferable.
A properly configured VPN works by encrypting the entire connection from one device to another. When data is sent it is encrypted, and it is decrypted when it reaches the intended device. This way even if data is intercepted by cyber criminals, they will be unable to decrypt or process it.
To add a VPN, your employee can either install it on their computer and then login with the credentials you grant them. Or if using SSL VPN, a newer style of VPN, they can simply go to a special web-link, log in, and away they go. Preparation is key so when the snow flurries start to fall, your team is ready and enabled to work from home.
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
Another common, and perhaps one of the most popular ways to work remotely is through a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). RDP is software that allows you to connect to your work computer, or terminal server, from your home computer. This gives you access to anything you may need on your office network - just like if you were actually in the office.
For employees who take their laptop home with them, setting up a terminal server is a must. This will enable your employee to still connect to the office network from home.
Give Your Team Access to Your Phone System
Access to files is one thing. Access to your phone system is another.
If your team regularly fields business calls in your office, enable them to continue fielding those same calls from home using Voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP). This technology has many advantages, as well as many options. One option is having your employees use their mobile device as a remote extension of their office phone so they never miss a call or skip a beat in their productivity. You can also have your employees set up a VoIP phone at their house, or have their work phones forward to their home.
It’s important to note that you can grant access to your phone system via VoIP just as easily as you can take it away. This comes in handy if you ever need to part ways with your employee down the road.
Remote Controlled Laptops
One of the biggest fears of business owners is allowing their team to take business intelligence with them out of the office. It’s a valid concern. You don’t want your customer’s and business’ sensitive information falling into the wrong hands.
Luckily, there’s a software solution for that concern.
For company owned laptops that you provide to your employees,make sure to install software that allows you to administer control from a central location. This lets you:
- Wipe a computer remotely;
- Backup data;
- Administer patch updates;
- Control security levels to keep hackers out.
Personal laptops might already be compromised and should never be allowed to access the network, not even with a VPN. However access through Remote Desktop Protocol would be fine. By securing your team’s remote computers, you can ensure your sensitive business information won’t be compromised or stolen.
Not being able to meet around the conference room table at your office doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the benefits of face-to-face interaction.
Video conferencing makes your meetings feel almost as intimate as if you were sitting in the same room. You can read each other’s non-verbal cues, hear each other’s intonations, and even share what’s on your screen.
Make this easier for your employees by giving them a webcam if their laptop doesn’t already have one built in.
None of these forms of technology will be effective if your employees can’t access them.
Enter: Their Internet connection.
Talk to your employees about the Internet connection they have at home. If you anticipate they’ll be working from home a good chunk of the holiday season, it might be worthwhile to pitch in to boost their Internet speeds. Offer higher Internet connection speeds as a perk, or pay to get them set up with a proper connection.
The increased productivity and avoidance of time wasted on slow connections will pay off in the long run.
Have You Weatherproofed Your Business?
If there’s one thing we can predict with certainty this winter, it’s that there will be snow. Love it or hate it, it’s coming but it doesn’t have to slow you down.
By weatherproofing your business with the right technology, you can keep productivity high and sales money rolling in no matter the weather this year.
Want help implementing a ‘work from home’ solution for your business? Contact us today at (905)660-4118.