Many home offices do not maintain the same technology standards, including IT security, that are provided at the employee’s office building. The remote equipment and network should be evaluated and documented for functionality and security.
A prevalent technology for securing remote connections is the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).
VPNs create an encrypted tunnel between a user’s computer and a remote network. This enables a home PC user to connect to their office computer, as though they were sitting at the desk at the office. VPNs enable secure access an internally hosted line of business applications that haven’t been moved to a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based solution. VPNs provide a high level of security when properly maintained and secured.
VPNs require proper setup, including addressing capacity and performance issues. Capacity may be restricted by limitations of a firewall. A firewall can be either a hardware device, software, or a combination. The firewall is designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. This prevents unauthorized Internet users from accessing your private network, which is connected to the Internet. Some firewalls have capacity limitations on the number of concurrent VPN sessions they can support. Capacity issues need to be monitoring and managed on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, performance issues on the VPN network need to be addressed as they arise. Performance issues can be due to many factors, such as device, network, or application issues. Devices may be outdated or certain users may be consuming a large amount of bandwidth. Separately, the network may have connectivity or other issues and applications may need to be re-configured modified to eliminate performance issues.
Video communication is another technology that has grown over a period of years, with rapid escalation of growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry data shows video communications traffic and usage growth for certain major video communications providers exceeded 200% in just one month of the pandemic.
In lieu of in-office meetings and hallway impromptu chats, there are many software applications that facilitate online chats, web-based meetings, and real-time messaging. This includes platforms such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facetime, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, internal blogs, social media, and project management. There are numerous applications software applications available to provide a wide range of remote workforce functionality.
A short list of a few of the applications available:
- Project management (tasks, timelines, reporting)
- Note sharing
- Webinars / Video conferencing
- File management