Gareth’s 7 IT Tips on Working Remotely
Our Saskatoon IT Tips are from the Trusted professionals at Burnt Orange Solutions. We promise to have a one-hour response time for all your Saskatoon IT support needs. Honesty and respect are important to us. In our latest IT Expert tip Article, Gareth McKee shares 7 IT Tips on Working Remotely and how to set up your business and its employees for success.
Working Remotely? Gareth’s IT Tips Can Help!
This summer we are all slowly returning back to business during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is now the best time to look back and reflect on your employees experiences on working remotely as well as the procedures that were in place to see what lessons were learnt along the way and how you, a business owner, can put those lessons into practice to be prepared if a second wave occurs.
As the owner of a business, you are the one responsible to put practices in place that will allow you to continue to grow your business. A variety of our clients, both big and small companies, had similar problems with working remotely during the lock-down so we wanted to share that knowledge with you in hopes of learning from these lessons to line up your business for success in the future.
Start the Conversation Now About Working Remotely
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was often the case that only a few employees were working remotely from their homes. Almost over night this changed to allow entire companies to work remotely.
Don’t waste any time to speak with your employees about their experiences working from home. Encourage them to be honest and speak about the major problems but also the minor problems they faced since there may be common themes among staff.
Once the list of issues has been created, talk with a specialist IT solutions provider in your area to see how the problems can be overcome. At Burnt Orange IT Solutions, we can help solve your problems while providing solutions for you to help your employees.
At Burnt Orange IT Solutions, the first 2 weeks of the lock-down was busy beyond belief, as we helped our clients with a variety of solutions including setting up remote work spaces for their employees. At times it felt like we were putting in 3 days of work in an 8 hour work day. I would like to take this opportunity to say I would be amiss if I did not thank my engineering team, they were amazing throughout the whole lock down.
Now is the time to talk about what problems employees had working from home and to put the proper solutions in place to remediate these issues with time to test and reassess any issues as needed.
While Working Remotely, Printing Should Not Be This Difficult
In the early days of the lock-down many clients had difficulty printing remotely. The issues ranged from not being able to print at all, to documents taking many hours to arrive at the printer at home. There are a variety of technical reasons why these issued arose, but that is for another article.
A paperless office is what we all aspire to become, however sometimes it simply isn’t realistic. If you are having problems with your printer, purchase one that will work with your systems or one that may be a simpler software that makes remote printing easier. An example is TSPrint software that offers remote printing.
Solutions to Assist With Remote Working
Remote working for many was a new experience. As many solutions were put in place in a quick manner, it is now time to look at real solutions that could benefit your organization. Many of these solutions cost money, however, they can provide benefits to a business.
A few solutions to assist with remote working are as follows:
- Microsoft 365, among many other things, allows you to create and share documents locally while staying in the Microsoft Cloud. It also allows you to easily share information and communicate with colleagues and clients.
- Remote Desktop/Citrix – Both solutions allow your workforce to remote in to your servers and work as if they were sitting at their desk.
- File Syncing (example: Dropbox) – Syncing between a few computers or between many users can be achieved quite easily using a solution like this. Be aware of ‘dupes’ of Dropbox however. Many are not as secure as they should be, often don’t work quite as described and have problems keeping more than a small number of connections up to date. Also, please do NOT think of these solutions as a backup, as they were not made for that purpose.
- Server in the Cloud (MS Azure/Amazon Web Service) – These solutions provide a myriad of services, but please note that they can be used to place a server in the Cloud, allowing easy access to data from anywhere.
Keep Communication Going Remotely
There are many ways in which different services can help your team communicate with each other in a timely and effective manner while working remotely.
- Video Conferencing – Zoom has become synonymous with this technology. Many solutions are free of charge for a small number of users or short meetings. More complex and larger groups may need to purchase a service. Note that Microsoft 365 and Google Suite (aka G-Suite) also offer solutions, if you subscribe to these it would make economic sense to do some research prior to paying for another service.
- Chatting – There are many options to chat and most work in the same way. Again, if you are using Microsoft 365 or G-Suite they have solutions built in.
- Email – As much as the IT ‘chattering classes’ would have us believe that email is dead, in the business world it is still the work horse of information sharing. In my opinion, Microsoft Outlook is still the best client/app and I would recommend using it to access your emails from any device, no matter which vendor provides you with your email service.
Security is Important, Remote or Not
During the beginning of the lock-down it became quickly apparent how many home computers are not protected from the dangers of the internet. A few things to ponder when it comes to security are as follows:
AntiMalware/Virus – A good deal of home computers that were scrambling to provide remote access to work networks had one of the following:
- Did not have an AntiMalware product installed,
- A free version of AntiMalware was installed,
- The AntiMalware was not up to date.
Any of the above problems means there was a huge hole in your work network. No matter how the home computer interacted with your work network, there is an increased risk of it infecting your data with a virus.
In my humble opinion, as we have moved to a greater number of people working from home, these computers should now be under the security arrangements of your company, along with your IT security service provider. The staff members should not be liable to put their own solutions in place.
Patching is another issue we come across often. If Anti Malware is akin to your white blood cells, Patching is the Band Aid for the scrape on your knee. Every day software is found to have security holes in it, patching plugs these holes. A valuable knock on effect of patching is a computer that runs faster, is more stable, meaning less reboots and no more having to Task Manager out of programs several times per day.
Passwords, Passwords, Passwords
Weak passwords are the easiest way to access your network for a thief or criminal. Once in your network the stealing or holding ransom of your data is a relatively easy exercise.
Passwords are now all about length. Special characters like !@# are not as valuable as they once were, but I still recommend using them. One of the latest recommendations is to choose 4 random words, with spaces, for your password. This is easy to remember and due to the length, it is difficult to guess.
Example 1: #Smart pLant whEEl Theatre!
Example 2: %Status tYPe cases coping)
Let’s be honest, nobody can remember Ujadkv*^%^ddkNJH. By using 4 unrelated words it is a simple way to increase the length of the password. Password managers can also be great to remember all of your passwords for various websites and apps.
Yet another way to increase security is to have your usernames more difficult to guess. Most companies have JohnJones, John.Jones, JJones, JonesJ etc., why not put a number in the username, for example: JohnJones0456? This now makes the username and password difficult to guess.
If you have any simple ideas to help others prepare for remote working or are looking for IT solutions for your business and its employees, please feel free to contact me at Burnt Orange IT Solutions.
We hope this article gave you some insight. If you want to ensure your business’s IT security, contact the Trusted Saskatoon IT professionals at Burnt Orange Solutions and we can take IT worries off your plate.
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