As our workforce and working style continues to be more mobile, more small and mid-size businesses are facing the challenge of supporting remote offices and mobile users. These remote workers may be flying solo in home offices, co-working spaces, or shared office suites, or may be part of larger remote site.
While the adoption of cloud solutions can simplify remote user support, these 7 tenets can save you time, money, and aggravation.
Beyond strong passwords, ensure that the work of your remote users is as secure as those working in the office. This means providing secure access via company-managed applications and services (not personal apps), encrypting any local data when appropriate, and making sure machines and devices are physically secure.
Whenever possible, tap automated solutions for distributing software, updates, and services. Centrally managed IT services save you time and money, prevent mistakes or missed updates, and remove an IT burden from individual users.
Create a policy with respect to upgrades and new IT apps and services, and back the policy with responsiveness to end user needs. Your remote workers will find and install personal apps that help them do their jobs, which may or may not be in sync with your company’s needs or requirements, and can lead to data loss and other liabilities. Ensure your employees understand that you look at upgrades and new tools regularly and are open to vetting their suggestions. If you don’t or won’t provide a solution, they may move forward without you, and at your peril.
- Preventative Maintenance
For users running on Mac OS, Windows, and other legacy operating systems, scheduling preventative maintenance (PM) will avoid performance problems and prevent failures that can cost you much more time and money. Verifying that systems are up to date, defragmenting disks, and replacing aging equipment on a regular schedule will keep your team happy and productive. PM also gives you an opportunity to confirm users are complying with company standards and policies, and to dispose of aging equipment before it becomes clutter.
- Point of Contact
Every remote worker should have a clear point of contact for technology issues and support. In addition to helping with questions and problems, the point of contact should serve as an advocate for remote users’ needs and a resource for orienting and training new staff on your policies and procedures. While larger remote sites may have an on-site point of contact, they can be remote and effective.
Think beyond providing remote users with high speed network access at their desks. Remote users need fast, reliable communications while mobile. And, communications go beyond connecting devices. Remote users need voice, fax, and conferencing capabilities that are as seamless (if not more so) than those working in the main office. Customers should not need to know that somebody is remote as services should work transparently. Ease of use is key to avoid frustration.
- Repair and Replace
Stuff breaks. Have a plan in place for local repairs or fast replacement. Spending a day figuring out how to repair or replace a broken device does nothing more than create a day of lost productivity.
Regardless of your technology infrastructure, these 7 tenets provide a framework that will enable your remote and mobile workforce to succeed without burdening them with informal IT responsibilities.