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Working from home... is it now a permanent necessity?

by Rob Sartin - Tue 14 Dec 2021

On the 16th March 2020 Boris Johnson gave the first order for “people to start working from home where they possibly can” and many companies had to rapidly change the way they worked, modify their I.T. infrastructures and rethink their communication channels.

A week later, on the 23rd March 2020, the UK was placed in its first lockdown and those who hadn’t already started working from home were forced to. Since then, we have all been on a rollercoaster of lockdowns, hybrid working and back to the office, with the hope of returning to ‘normality’ somewhere down the line. However, the end of that line seems to beg the question, is remote working a permanent necessity now?

Overall, remote working has proven a positive experience for most, but it’s not been without teething issues. However, even with interrupted Teams calls by hungry children, or missing the interaction with colleagues, the pros appear to out way the cons for most people and the likelihood is, remote or blended working is here to stay.

If there’s one thing the Covid pandemic has shown us is that the traditional way of working isn’t the only way.  We now have new options of working that; reduces the daily commute, encourages an improved work/life balance and enables us to spend more time with family.

So how does your business deliver the flexibility of working from home for your team? Well, there are several options but the feasibility of home working depends on; how your existing I.T. infrastructure is configured, your available budget (if significant changes are required) and how your company data is accessed. Here we highlight 3 main options you have for successful home working…

Firstly, we have Cloud solutions. This has been a buzz word in recent years and as a result there are countless Cloud solutions that provide you with control and flexibility of your I.T infrastructure. Tech giants like Microsoft, Google and other providers will host business services on their servers, for you to access remotely. This gives you control of the administration of business solutions, without the headache of back-end tasks like server maintenance. This solution also offers easy and quick options for expansion when required, however will mean ongoing monthly costs that will increase as you scale up.

Next, remote desktops are a fantastic solution if you want to maintain full control over your data and network, whilst ensuring that company data remains on your network. With this option, your employees can remotely access data on the server from any computer, tablet or phone (whether it be a company device or the user’s personal device). Once logged in, they will be presented with full desktop capabilities, access to your network and policies, any personal profile restrictions, and access to business management software, just as if they were sat in the office. Scalability is a factor with this solution as there may be hardware upgrades required, however there are no ongoing monthly costs normally, as with Cloud based solutions, and it gives you greater control of your I.T. security and control possibilities.

Finally, we have Virtual Private Networks (VPN). A VPN enables you to stay private online by establishing a secure connection between your server and your employee’s devices at home. This allows your team access to your corporate network privately as if in the office, from anywhere in the world. There are no monthly costs, however there are important things to take into consideration… For example, if you allow your employees to use a VPN on a personal device, that device may not have the same security standards that you enforce on your corporate devices, allowing external devices onto your network and potentially allowing for company data to be moved or copied to that device. Something to be mindful of when allocation security permissions to your company VPN.

I appreciate that for a lot of people adapting your network environment to allow for people to work from home can be daunting and a real minefield. You are potentially exposing your business I.T. infrastructure and network to the outside world. However, there are robust services and I.T. Security options to support homeworking, and the right I.T partner will help you with the transition. If you need any help, we can review your current I.T. infrastructure and advise on the most effective and secure options for your business.

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