Connectivity & Communication Challenges & Solutions
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are struggling to figure out how to transition to a distributed workforce and leverage remote workers. According to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) 37 percent of jobs in the US can be done at home, accounting for about half of all wages earned in the US. Full-time work from home is expected to double. Ensuring that remote work is done better, simpler and safer could not be a higher priority for us all. For years, the team at Simplifi has been dedicated to enabling organizations to work remotely. We know the changes can be scary at first, but once the switch happens and a new method of work and new tools are adopted, organizations quickly discover the positive benefits of remote work, including increased efficiency, decreased overhead, greater access to talent and improved quality of life.
While we certainly look forward to the end of the pandemic, many of the changes related to remote work will be here to stay. Regardless, all organizations should be prepared with the knowledge and tools to make the transition to remote work quickly and safely at any time.
This article explores the four core challenges and risks that organizations should be aware of as they transition to remote work. It also explains how Simplifi can help you and your organization to seamlessly make the transition anywhere and at any time, now during the pandemic, or in the future. Either way, Simplifi is here to help you through the short-term COVID-19 challenge and will be with you over the long term to improve your connection, communication and control.
Connectivity For Remote Work
The first thing we all need in order to work remotely is reliable and secure internet connectivity. Most of us do not have the same speeds or bandwidth in our homes as we have in our workplaces. Add to that kids who are gaming, performing on- line learning and streaming, and the result is our home networks degrade rapidly. In fact, demands on bandwidth are so high that streaming providers like Netflix are degrading the quality of their video.
Additionally, we are all familiar with internet outages and the need for a reliable connection when we need to leave home and work from somewhere else – a hotel, your car, outside, etc. When this happens you need to be able to take your network and all it’s security features with you.
Most organizations (all should) have security protocols and technology built into their network to protect data, communications and privacy. Often this includes the creation of a secure on-site private network for employees where they can work with each other, share files and access servers. Few homes or remote work- areas, like cafes, have any added security to protect their networks, and as a guest on the network you are at risk.
When working remotely, one of the biggest challenges is how to access a secure network without creating massive security breaches. To do this, often we use what is called a VPN (virtual private network) which requires technical support on both ends of the network to set up properly, requiring lengthy support calls and/or on site visits. Setting up VPNs is normally complicated and not realistic during COVID-19 when on-site visits are not allowed. Simply ensuring security can be maintained remotely can be an expensive and daunting challenge and yet the cost of a breach can be worse – causing catastrophic losses for businesses in terms of money and reputation.
Without the right tools and measures in place, companies are risking exposing data to hackers.
Cellular Connectivity and Encryption
• A Key benefit to setting up a VPN on a portable router as opposed to putting it on a device (i.e. “work” computer) is that we all work with multiple devices (phone/laptop/tablet) and if we lose or damage our work computer, we can still access the private network through the VPN on a router.
• Making sure the router is portable is equally as important. If your IT department goes through the headache of setting up a VPN on your home internet and you need to change locations, you’ll need to recreate the VPN again. With Simplifi you just need to take the router with you and plug it in – wherever you go.
For example, a software company with 10 engineers accessing a build server on-site can now use 1 Simplifi Connect in the office and 10 in home offices to securely access those files remotely and with total security.
The next way we help make the lives of IT departments easier is by providing them with access to our Enterprise Remote Management Platform – allowing a single person or team to remotely monitor and manage the health and security of a network that could have tens of thousands of routers in the field. This includes troubleshooting, configurations, firmware updates and data analytics. This incredibly powerful cloud-based platform can be accessed anywhere and remotely support your entire network.
1. Employers can see who and what is on the network (devices or people that should or should not be on it) and how long employees are actively working.
2. Employers can see if workers are using a secure connection.
3. With Simplifi’s captive portal you can add stricter levels of user authentication, from email-based registration to corporate approval for any device every time a log-on occurs.
4. Simplifi can also white-list/black-list sites either giving access to a set number of URLs or blocking sites that are inappropriate for work.
Communication For Remote Work
• Work phones systems define set work hours
• Work phones systems help us find the people and information we need efficiently
• Many businesses and organizations require consistent listed numbers
• There are a host of features available to professional phone systems not available to personal cell phones – IVRs, call-trees, call recordings, voicemail to email, analytics and much more.
• Work phone systems make your business appear more professional
• Work phones allow you – a business owner – to control how your employees communicate
• Work phone systems can be inexpensive, they can work on personal phone hardware and are well worth the small investment (if you pick the right systems!)
All carriers are transitioning away from POTS lines and if your organization is using them, you are most certainly overpaying for services that have some major limitations and you should investigate switching to a cloud-based solution ASAP.
“IP PBX providers have countless ways to nickel and dime customers who think they are getting a good deal but end up paying nearly as much or more.”
• You are only contacted during the hours you set
• You maintain your same corporate call tree and IVR and now no matter where your employees are, they can be found through their work number
• Communications are professional and consistent over work numbers
• If you want to record calls, you can
• You – a business owner – control how your employees communicate
• You don’t need to offer to pay a person’s cell phone bill or give them a phone – they just download an app, and can start or cancel anytime
• Simplifi’s “follow me” feature enables a work call to “find” the right person no matter where they are or what phone they are using
• BEST OF ALL Simplifi Lines offers customers far more features, flexibility and substantial savings in 99.9% of customers
Simplifi Lines also has features called Whisper and Spy modes that allows supervisors to listen in on calls and speak to employees without the customer hearing them.
Most of us have little choice right now but to figure out how to transition from the office and embrace remote work. While we regret the circumstances, we are confident that for most organizations, if you use the right tools and work securely, remote work will bring about positive changes that will have a lasting impact. Don’t be afraid to try new tools, experiment and learn.
And if your organization needs help in this trying time, our support staff is waiting to help with any inquiry. Please don’t hesitate to contact Simplifi by phone 239.919.8551 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to hear from you soon!