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Build the Remote Office Your Business Needs for Success

By: Kaylie Gyarmathy on October 28, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused a profound shift in the way organizations manage their workplace. Many of them have responded by transitioning their employees out of the office and into work-from-home arrangements. While some organizations have been doing remote work for years, others are still being forced to grapple with the challenges of the remote office in real-time.

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What is a Remote Office?

Helping employees to set up their own remote office is critical to any successful remote work situation. Whether an organization is embracing remote work on a permanent basis or using it as a temporary solution, it’s important that employees have access to the same people and resources in their remote office that they would in a physical office. As the name suggests, a remote office can be located anywhere, so it may be helpful to think of any place an employee is working from as a remote office.

Essentially, a remote office need only consist of three things: the employee, the device they’re working on, and their internet connection. From a security standpoint, each one is equally important in protecting an organization’s network and critical data. If the device is compromised by malware, for instance, it could infect any network applications it connects to. Similarly, even if the device has the latest security software installed and the internet connection features enterprise-grade security, a data breach could still occur if the employee isn’t up to date on the latest cyber scams seeking to obtain their personal information and access credentials. Given the number of phishing scams that have emerged to exploit the COVID-19 crisis, it’s more important than ever for remote employees to maintain high levels of awareness.

The Effect Your Remote Office Has on Your Productivity

Security is understandably one of the top concerns facing the remote office, but there are also serious questions worth considering about how productive people are when they work from home. The debate over whether or not remote workers are more productive has produced multiple studies on the matter with mixed results. Context, it seems, is the most important factor in evaluating productivity, as most research demonstrates that it depends on the amount of time an employee spends working remotely and how much control they have over that work environment.

Nicolas Bloom, one of the most prominent researchers on the subject, recently commented on the COVID-19-induced push towards remote work: “We are home working alongside our kids, in unsuitable spaces, with no choice and no in-office days. This will create a productivity disaster for firms.”

Part of the challenge is that working in a remote office makes it difficult to distinguish where work ends and personal life begins. Without the right structure in place, people may have difficulty keeping focus, allowing tasks to drag out due to interruptions or distractions. Simply sending employees off to work from home without providing them with the necessary tools and guidelines to be productive and accountable will generally lead to frustrating results.

Other Challenges of Remote Work

While remote work has become more common in recent years, few industries or businesses were fully prepared for the massive shift to remote office arrangements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sudden transition not only brought a number of cybersecurity and technical problems along with it, but also exposed several other challenges that impacted both individual employees and organizations as a whole.

Communication Struggles

Although there are many technical solutions that allow people to remain in contact and collaborate even while working remotely, not everyone possesses the same familiarity with every platform and not every home office is set up similarly. Poor internet connections, interruptions by children or pets, and user error can quickly derail a video conference, for instance. From a technical standpoint, remote employees should do whatever they can to create a stable work environment, which may include relying on an ethernet connection instead of WiFi or making sure other people in their home aren’t monopolizing bandwidth by streaming videos or games. From a human perspective, it’s best to emphasize patience and understanding when problems occur. Having multiple channels for communication also helps to promote more effective collaboration.

Maintaining Focus and Team Culture

Working remotely tends to have an isolating effect on many employees. Where they once interacted with coworkers every day, they might go days or even weeks without speaking to other employees. Research has found that the thing people miss the most about working in an office is the human interaction with coworkers. For organizations that didn’t have a particularly strong culture prior to the pandemic, the shift to remote work has only made employees feel more isolated. Companies and employees are experimenting with a variety of methods to promote better morale and foster stronger connections among distributed teams.

Preserving Physical and Mental Health

While many people enjoy the flexibility of working from home, they’re also struggling with the health impacts that come along with it. Research has found that 75 percent of US workers are struggling with anxiety at work and 45 percent of them say they feel less healthy working from home. While the mental health impacts are often easy to see, less attention is given to the ways working from home can affect physical health. People are often getting less physical activity, sitting down for longer, and eating more frequently, all of which contribute to less favorable health outcomes. Organizations have put a lot of thought into the technical side of making remote work productive, but they should also provide employees with some guidance for effective self-care.

5 Tips for Building the Remote Office Your Business Needs for Success

Fortunately, there are many strategies companies can implement that will make it easier for employees to be effective when working from their remote office.

1. Embrace Cloud Platforms

Cloud platforms are an essential part of today’s remote workplace. Thanks to cloud-based software tools, employees can access the same applications and work on the same data and projects collaboratively. The old-fashioned practice of emailing individual documents or files back and forth between people who may not be using the same software version is no longer acceptable from a productivity or collaboration standpoint. Shared cloud platforms give everyone access to identical tools and data, ensuring that everyone in the organization is collaboratively working toward the same goal. For organizations that need to utilize multiple cloud platforms, data center multi-cloud deployments can give them the flexibility they need to meet the requirements of each department without compromising application performance or data security.

2. Use Video Conferencing

Advancements in telecommunications technology had already made video conferencing tools a standard feature of many businesses, but the rapid shift to remote work has made them even more important. People are more likely to pay attention to what’s being said in a meeting when it’s held over video rather than over the phone. More importantly, video allows participants to connect with one another more genuinely and build the relationships that are necessary for a successful team to perform at a high level.

3. Implement Time Tracking

While some employees will not need much help in establishing a remote office schedule, others may struggle to hold themselves accountable for tasks and responsibilities. Luckily, there are many software tools available that make it possible for organizations to track things like internet usage, when employees are actually at their desks, and what deadlines they’ve reached. While it may feel like micromanaging, many people will actually appreciate having a system in place to promote structure and accountability.

4. Reassess Your Remote Security

Remote offices face numerous security risks, especially if an organization doesn’t already have an infrastructure in place to facilitate remote work. Home offices generally lack the security capabilities of their enterprise counterparts, from firewall security on down to individual device management. Conducting a comprehensive vulnerability assessment can identify gaps in security controls and potential problem areas that need to be addressed to keep networks secure. Access policies should also be reevaluated, with new restrictions put in place to account for where and how people are logging into key applications and viewing data.

5. Hold a Remote Office Orientation

Employees often think that working from home will be much the same as working in the office. Simply assuming that they’ll know what to do or that they’re up to date on the latest security practices is an invitation to trouble. Holding a remote office orientation can get everyone on the same page and educate people about how working remotely requires a different approach to productivity and security. Walking people through the latest phishing scams or showing them how to set up multi-factor authentication on their accounts both eliminates confusion and ensures that everyone is taking the proper precautions to keep the network secure.

Colocation Data Centers and the Remote Office

When it comes to setting up the infrastructure for a remote office, colocation data centers provide an incredibly versatile foundation for any IT department. In addition to being more energy efficient and reliable than the average on-premises data solution, colocation facilities also make it possible for companies to go truly remote thanks to intelligent monitoring tools (like vXchnge’s in\site platform) and remote hands support. This combination of services allows IT personnel to manage every aspect of their colocation without ever having to set foot inside the data center. That means they can maintain social distancing requirements and free up valuable time to focus on other core business functions when it comes to network services.

Colocation data centers also provide the remote office with access to direct cloud on-ramps to build versatile hybrid IT environments that are scalable and easier to manage than a strictly on-prem solution. Since the infrastructure supporting those environments is typically backed up by several redundant systems, colo data centers are able to maintain the high levels of uptime that remote offices need to keep their businesses running efficiently.

Build Your Remote Office with vXchnge

As a carrier-neutral colocation provider, vXchnge delivers easy access to the leading cloud platforms for building the hybrid IT environments that will empower your remote office. Every one of our secure data center locations also delivers an extra level of protection from crippling DDoS cyberattacks with the innovative vX\defend service. Engineered for protection and backed by 100% uptime SLAs, our data centers deliver the reliable and stable infrastructure your network needs to serve your clients and customers during difficult times.

With the revolutionary in\site intelligent monitoring platform, you can view every aspect of your remote data center deployment in real-time. Get instant visibility into how much power and bandwidth your assets are utilizing, see where they’re located on an interactive floor plan, and download our latest compliance reports all from a single, easy-to-use platform.

To learn more about how we can help your remote office stay secure and productive, contact one of our colocation experts today.

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