The modern workforce has been mobilizing to some degree for a long time now, and the events of the last couple years have drastically accelerated that movement. As solution providers rush to meet the new demand, the terms work-from-home and working remotely all too often get used interchangeably when they aren’t truly synonymous.
While they are certainly similar in many ways, one of them still includes a stationary office, albeit at home; while the other one could mean working from anywhere. Today we look at each term and some of the key reasons they should be treated differently.
Many employees have transitioned into roles that allow them to work from the comfort of their home office. From a technology perspective this presents several challenges for the IT staff, but it also comes with some distinct advantages.
When it comes to challenges, it is hard to replicate the working environment of an office at any individual’s home. They will be reliant on an internet connection not meant for business traffic without many options for failover. They won’t be on the internal network and will be subject to delays and lag. Their hardware and network traffic can’t be managed the way they can if they are on-site. It is also important to note that securing an employee trying to access company data from an outside connection is not a challenge to be ignored.
It isn’t all bad news though! Working from a home office at least means that you have a single location that needs to be optimized for productivity. While this can be challenging as you scale it to many employees, they will still be working from the same place every day, it just isn’t onsite. This means that coming up with a solution for a single one of these employees means solving for most of them.
Leveraging Cloud technologies such as UCaaS, or CCaaS if applicable, VDI, and pairing them with any number of resilient security solutions you should be able to emulate the office experience at home for most of your users. Since they are working from the same place each day, once you find something that works then you should be able to relax!
Working remotely is a much broader term that can mean employees are working from any number of locations. They will most likely be working from a home office at times. They could also be working from a hotel, a coffee shop, an airplane, or in their car in a parking lot somewhere. Remote employees are mobile workhorses that are a little more challenging to solve for.
Finding solutions for an employee that could be working from anywhere comes with many unique challenges. Firstly, you can’t count on them having access to a stable internet connection. While they should have a functioning connection if they are in a hotel or coffee shop, the quality of these connections can vary greatly and they for sure won’t have a secondary connection for their customers. The desk phone that you sent to their home office can’t exactly travel everywhere with them, meaning they need access to their business line from their cell phone. Let’s not forget that you need a way for them to securely access company data and applications no matter where they happen to be that day.
Maintaining productivity with this much uncertainty is a challenge that exceeds the challenge presented by your average work-from-home employee. While they can be overcome, when planning for your remote workforce it is important to differentiate and make sure you know which type of employee each one is.
The good news is that the Cloud is incredibly mobile and if your company is leveraging it then you are already well on your way to solving for a truly remote workforce! Most modern UCaaS solutions have call forwarding capabilities that will allow a remote employee to take calls from anywhere. The better providers even have an application they can download on their phone to allow them to call out using their business phone number or even send text should the situation require it.
As far as unreliable internet connections go, there are better 4G/5G hotspots available now than ever before. There are even several created with remote workforce in mind that include security and some basic SD-WAN/SASE features. While it may cost more than what the average consumer uses, these solutions solve multiple problems for these employees and can give your IT team the visibility they need to keep them secure and productive no matter where they may be.
It has never been easier to mobilize your employees and allow them to work from wherever they are most productive. That being said, failing to recognize exactly how mobile they plan on being can be the difference between a productive employee, and a giant pain for your help desk.
If you aren’t sure, or need some guidance in figuring out exactly what solutions best fit your needs as you scale and mobilize; Wired Networks is here to help!