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Remote Network Management — 5 Steps to Take
Remote work is a trending topic. Want proof?
From February 2019 to February 2020, the phrase “remote work” was searched on Google around 22,000 times per month. Compared to other search terms, that’s already an extremely high average. But from March to early June 2020, that number exploded to well over 100,000 searches per month. Keyword search tools don’t even make data after 100,000 searches available because it barely ever happens. Simply put, millions around the world are (still) trying to adjust to a work-from-home world — employees and executives alike.
When COVID-19 hit the U.S, most companies only had a casual remote work policy on the books. Now, the same companies are being forced to totally reimagine their procedures. So it won’t come as a surprise that many are still catching up to the transition. And no one is playing more catch up than IT departments.
There is a lot to do, so here are some of the steps IT professionals are taking to manage their remote network infrastructure.
1. Incorporating Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
VPN’s allow employees to connect to the internet on their devices — as if they were working from the office — by extending a private network through a public network. It’s a simple, elegant solution in theory, but it only works if employees are connected properly. Having a fully operational remote workforce requires more network bandwidth than usual, and this needs to be accounted for. More specifically, IT staff must ensure that:
- All users are set up with VPN access.
- Proper training on how to access the VPN is provided.
- Passwords are issued to access the VPN.
- Your company’s network is tested thoroughly, and therefore well protected.
- Device standards are made crystal clear.
All in all, Virtual Private Networks are a great solution to support remote employees, while also maximizing the security of your company’s data. But it does take time to synchronize your employees, especially if they are using their own devices.
2. Multi-factor authentication
Given the meteoric rise in COVID-19 related spam and phishing attempts, it’s vital that employees become active participants in the protection of their own data. Towards this end, implementing multi-factor authentication is an important step. According to Wikipedia:
“Multi-factor authentication is an authentication method in which a computer user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence (or factors) to an authentication mechanism: knowledge (something the user and only the user knows), possession (something the user and only the user has), and inherence (something the user and only the user is).”
We’ve all dealt with multi-factor authentication at some point. It can be a bit of a pain at first, but it’s well-worth it for the protection of personal and company data.
3. Utilizing the cloud
In the age of remote work, companies are relying heavily on cloud-based apps and storage. The beauty of the cloud is that it typically leverages ‘pay as you go’ pricing, such that scaling up (and down) is easy, depending on your company’s need for storage. The Cloud allows employees to access data or information they need from multiple devices, and off site.
4. Help desk
IT support teams are busier than ever, and helping employees remotely can be extremely challenging. Getting as organized as possible will help reduce the burden on IT employees. Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you have enough help desk staff?
- Is your current staff prepared and trained to deal with a high volume of calls?
- Can your team provide 24-hour helpdesk support?
- Is your team ready to support employees with issues surrounding VPNs, mobile support, email security, and other related network issues?
5. Hardware restock
Organizations have been scrambling to provide adequate device set ups for their remote employees. IT team members have ordered computers, routers, printers, VPN wireless access points, and more — all within the span of a few weeks. No one could have anticipated this sudden and dramatic shift, but it does highlight the importance of staying stocked with IT supplies, especially since remote work will likely remain common.
Conclusion: Remote Network Management — 5 Steps to Take
The world is witnessing a transformation in the way we work. True, no one knows exactly what the future holds, but one thing is for certain: remote work will increase after COVID-19. This means that the policies and procedures we put into effect now may well have important implications for the future.
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