The working from home ‘movement’ has long been a hot topic in technology companies. The nature of the job means many engineers work after hours and during working hours they often prefer to work remotely. The recent worrying spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Far East and now in other parts of the globe has caused many companies to see how viable working from home would be for them (including us here at ION Networks). It seems we are not alone with companies all asking their workers to work remotely as a measure against the rapidly spreading disease.
Firstly, a little bit about us. We operate two main offices, our head office in Elveden, and our second office from Norwich. All our staff focus almost exclusively on providing managed cloud, disaster recovery and security services to several businesses across East Anglia.
The nature of our work means we are paid to be a little bit paranoid and to prepare for worst case scenarios. While not much is known about the Corona Virus, what is known, is that if one member of staff brings it into the office many members of staff would likely catch it and not be able to work for many weeks or worse. Based on that risk alone (no matter how slight) we believe companies will soon begin to ask their teams began asking teams to work from home.
The first consideration for businesses assessing if working from home is viable for them is probably bandwidth.
Many businesses have published some applications for their staff to use outside of the office and do allow for remote access via a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
But usually this has been designed in gradual fashion. Is your business prepared for all staff to access your servers via high bandwidth simultaneously from homes? A few 100MB ADSL lines or a 50MB leased line is likely to be insufficient for 100 plus users using a 100MB ADSL line from home. What about the nature of your business? Do you use large files? How big are your perimeter devices like routers and firewalls? Can they handle having your office LAN outside coming in as opposed to inside with just web traffic going out?
The truth is most companies with on premise datacenters will not be able to supply enough resources or bandwidth to make this viable. A further consideration is who will manage and maintain these datacenters if the office is closed? The easy fix to all of this is to have your IT infrastructure on the cloud. Usually, our Go to Market about cloud is based around cost savings, security, scalability and the agility to create new infrastructure on the fly. However, an important advantage, which is sometimes overlooked, is the robustness cloud gives to remote working.
A second consideration is internal office communication.
One thing that is lost when staff are no longer in the office is the ability to ask a quick question and get a quick reply. At ION Networks, we have a unified communication from Panasonic that allows for soft phones, Microsoft Teams for video calls and Slack for instant messaging. However, they were never really tested remotely. Ensuring all your staff have accounts and know how to use them is key.
A third consideration is how to maintain the office culture when people are not in the vicinity of each other.
You could decide to implement a morning video call via Skype, so team members can see each other’s faces and discuss issues and tasks for the day ahead.
So far our work from home KPI’s and metrics are in-line with where they were when we worked from the office. And this is the key of it all. The economic welfare of a company is an extremely important aspect of the welfare of its staff. They are symbiotic and they lead to the level of service we can provide to our customers. All three are directly tied together. This is most likely the case for all business and this is why every CEO should be at least seeing how prepared they are for remote working.
If you would like to discuss how ION Networks could help you and your business, contact us today on 01842 890000.