Posts

5 Ways to Improve Work from Home

Networks and Connectivity

The Covid-19 pandemic proved that work from home and remote work was viable and productive for more employees than previously believed or acknowledged.  Necessity is a great motivator. Our businesses, employees, and customers responded, adapted, moved forward.  In the process, we have identified new benefits and pitfalls with remote work. Looking forward, our emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic is not a clear as hoped or predicted. The virus is here to stay and the impact on our lives is yet to be fully understood.  Our normal is not necessary “new”, but continues to evolve.

While we cannot predict the full extent of the shift, remote work, hybrid work, and work from home will be the norm. 

Business need to continue to assess, plan, and adapt.  Here are 5 ways we can improve work from home and hybrid remote/in-office work environments.

1 Device-as-a-Service

Device-as-a-Service, particularly remote desktop and virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, have clear benefits for new office norms. You can:

  • Provide a secure access to applications and systems with consistency regardless of where your employees are working
  • Better manage the computing environment, separating your business’ computing from the local device
  • Use existing, older laptops and desktops, thereby reducing hardware upgrade costs driven by operating system and application upgrades
  • Leverage Chromebooks as end user devices, lowering your total cost of ownership

2 Pick a Video Conferencing Service

Picking a standard video conferencing service lets you manage how you communicate internally and with customers. The right choice can also save you hundreds of dollars per year per employee while giving you and your team the features and functions they need to manage meetings and work efficiently.  By selecting a preferred service, you can invest the time and effort to integrate the service with your productivity and collaboration suites. An small investment in teaching employees how to fully use the solution also pays dividends.

3 Improve Employees’ Internet

You would never allow your Internet service to slow down work at the office. You should not allow home Internet speeds to slow down your remote employees. Reimbursing employees for increasing their Internet speeds improves productivity and morale. Providing employees with better WiFi routers and access points ensures their connections are available and reliable. Note: a few states require employers to reimburse home Internet services based on the percentage used for work.

4 Secure Your Remote Workers

Unless you provide the equipment and services, you cannot control your employees’ home networks and systems. At the same time, you want and need to secure your applications, data, and network. To do so:

  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) or two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible to control network, system, and application access.  MFA and 2FA are the simplest means of preventing hackers from using compromised user identities or credentials.
  • Upgrade home computers with additional, advanced threat protection services.  Many of the next-gen solutions offer greater protection from modern attacks and are designed to work with existing anti-virus solutions that may be installed on the device. Some of these solutions also provide tools for remote support.
  • Consider using physical security keys that provide authentication codes without the need for a smartphone or other device.

5[/av_dropcap1 Protect Your Remote Resources

Whether using a company provided laptop or a personal computer, problems at home are disruptive and take longer to diagnose and repair than in-office problems. While Device-as-a Service solutions separate the risk from the physical device, employees using their local machines are at risk.  At a minimum, ensure that you are backing up and can recover applications and data on remote laptops and desktops. If an employee performs critical or time-sensitive tasks, consider a continuity solution that enable the employee to return to work within minutes rather than hours.

[av_hr class='custom' icon_select='no' icon='ue808' font='entypo-fontello' position='center' shadow='no-shadow' height='50' custom_border='av-border-thin' custom_width='50px' custom_margin_top='30px' custom_margin_bottom='30px' custom_border_color='#7bb0e7' custom_icon_color='' id='' custom_class='' template_class='' av_uid='av-2zlcpx' sc_version='1.0' admin_preview_bg='']

Whether work from home, remote work, or hybrid work will be strategic or tactical for your business, you can improve the security and employee experience with minimal cost.  We are here to help you assess, plan, and update your IT services to best meet your needs — and budget.  Contact us for an initial consultation.

 

need to continue to assess, plan, and adapt.  Here are 5 ways we can improve work from home and hybrid remote/in-office work environments.

[av_dropcap1]1 Device-as-a-Service

Device-as-a-Service, particularly remote desktop and virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, have clear benefits for new office norms. You can:

  • Provide a secure access to applications and systems with consistency regardless of where your employees are working
  • Better manage the computing environment, separating your business’ computing from the local device
  • Use existing, older laptops and desktops, thereby reducing hardware upgrade costs driven by operating system and application upgrades
  • Leverage Chromebooks as end user devices, lowering your total cost of ownership

2 Pick a Video Conferencing Service

Picking a standard video conferencing service lets you manage how you communicate internally and with customers. The right choice can also save you hundreds of dollars per year per employee while giving you and your team the features and functions they need to manage meetings and work efficiently.  By selecting a preferred service, you can invest the time and effort to integrate the service with your productivity and collaboration suites. A small investment in teaching employees how to fully use the solution also pays dividends.

3 Improve Employees’ Internet

You would never allow your Internet service to slow down work at the office. You should not allow home Internet speeds to slow down your remote employees. Reimbursing employees for increasing their Internet speeds improves productivity and morale. Providing employees with better WiFi routers and access points ensures their connections are available and reliable. Note: a few states require employers to reimburse home Internet services based on the percentage used for work.

4 Secure Your Remote Workers

Unless you provide the equipment and services, you cannot control your employees’ home networks and systems. At the same time, you want and need to secure your applications, data, and network. To do so:

  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) or two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible to control network, system, and application access.  MFA and 2FA are the simplest means of preventing hackers from using compromised user identities or credentials.
  • Upgrade home computers with additional, advanced threat protection services.  Many of the next-gen solutions offer greater protection from modern attacks and are designed to work with existing anti-virus solutions that may be installed on the device. Some of these solutions also provide tools for remote support.
  • Consider using physical security keys that provide authentication codes without the need for a smartphone or other device.

5[/av_dropcap1 Protect Your Remote Resources

Whether using a company laptop or a personal computer, problems at home are disruptive and take longer to diagnose and repair than in-office problems. While Device-as-a Service solutions separate the risk from the physical device, employees using their local machines are at risk.  At a minimum, ensure that you are backing up and can recover applications and data on remote laptops and desktops. If an employee performs critical or time-sensitive tasks, consider a continuity solution that enables the employee to return to work within minutes rather than hours.

Whether work from home, remote work, or hybrid work will be strategic or tactical for your business, you can improve the security and employee experience with minimal cost.  We are here to help you assess, plan, and update your IT services to best meet your needs — and budget.  Contact us for an initial consultation.

 

The Last Mile: Internet Access in the Age of Cloud

The Last Mile

Internet access has changed radically in the past half decade. With greater availability of broadband service from cable providers, small and midsize businesses are no longer limited by legacy wide area network technologies offered by traditional telephone providers. The cost of service has also plummeted.  In our area, we have gone from paying $500 per month for a 1.5 Mbps circuit to paying $149 per month for 75 Mbps service. From $330 per Mpbs down to $2 Mbps in less than five years. The impact is profound and has spurred changes on how we use the Internet. We have moved from surfing web sites and email traffic to cloud computing, creating a new set of challenges for small and midsize businesses. High speed internet is not readily available in many rural, sub-rural, and urban areas. High speed internet is often built over aging infrastructure and lacks reliability. And, most importantly …

Many Broadband Services Fail to Meet the Needs of Small Business

Most business broadband services are asymmetrical, with different upload and download speeds. With uploads running at 10%-15% of download speeds, broadband fails to meet the needs of cloud users. Working with cloud systems, applications, and file services, as much data moves “up” to the cloud as “down” to user. Symmetric upload/download speeds are critical to reliable performance and productivity.

Fortunately, Solutions Exist.

By looking to other carriers and their agency networks, we can offer solutions that delivery bandwidth, reliability, access, and coverage.

For bandwidth, many carriers offer Fast Ethernet, Gig Ethernet, and other high speed fiber and coax services. These services deliver symmetrical service with a range of speeds, usually starting at 100 Mbps. Availability is generally good in urban and suburban areas. For buildings not pre-wired for service, installation may involve pulling new wires from the street network. In most cases, carriers will waive this construction cost, along with normal installation fees, when you sign a three (3) year agreement.

For reliability, a second, fail-over, Internet connection can provide business continuity when your primary service fails. As the failures are often on the last mile — the connection from the network to your business — alternate service should not be built over the same infrastructure as your primary connection. For many small businesses, cellular can provide reliable, affordable fail-over services with reasonable speeds. Solutions like the Datto Network Appliance connect to your local provider and offer automatic fail-over to the Verizon or AT&T cellular data networks for a low monthly fee.

For access and coverage in areas without high speed Internet service, broadband satellite is emerging as a viable solution, particularly in rural and sub-rural areas.  Speeds start at 20 Mbps. Service may not be symmetrical everywhere, but coverage areas continue to grow.

The solution you need for business will depend on your location, size, and use of cloud services. Taking time and picking the right Internet access will improve performance and productivity.


If you are interested in exploring options, contact us for a free consultation.


 

 

Chromebook SSO Eases Access Administration

google-chromebook
Single Sign-On (SSO) enables users to access multiple systems and applications with a single username and password, and a single login screen.  And while many schools and businesses use SSO for Google Apps and related solutions, Chrome devices have always required a separate login.

To easy access administration and simplify user logins, Google has launched SAML-based SSO login for Chrome devices.   Organizations running current versions of Chrome on devices registered via Chrome Management licenses can now extend their Google Apps SSO login to the registered Chrome devices.

Feel free to contact us if you would like more information or assistance with your setup.