Now that we’re looking at widespread shutdowns and quarantines over the Coronavirus (COVID-19), many companies are struggling to figure out how they can enable their employees to work remotely during the coming weeks and months. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to quickly develop a remote work plan, and there are many available tools to help you execute it.
Recently the Harvard Business Review laid out several key steps in an article by Cali Williams Yost, an expert on flexible work arrangements.
- To minimize health risks, you need to enable as many employees as possible to work remotely. Work with your company’s leaders, IT and HR teams right away to develop a corresponding plan.
- Take note of jobs, processes and tasks that could be affected. Pay particular attention to roles and duties that can be performed remotely without a physical presence in the workplace. Thankfully, email, video conferencing, VPNs, cloud file sharing, and online collaboration portals should enable many of your employees to perform key roles and processes remotely.
- Audit your available IT hardware and software to enable remote work. Identify devices that your company owns and opportunities for employees to securely use their own devices. Close any gaps in hardware or software, and make sure to account for any training needs to make sure your workers are ready to use these tools effectively.
- Set up a communications protocol in advance. Develop a communications plan that outlines how to reach everybody, how employees will communicate with each other and respond to customers and vendors, and how and when your teams will coordinate and meet. Keep in mind the potentially urgent need to communicate real-time public health updates and any resulting changes in policies or procedures. Then execute your plan.
Putting a Remote Workforce Plan in Place
When it comes to executing your plan, one of the top IT resources we recommend for quickly enabling remote work is Cisco’s Meraki Teleworker Z3. The Meraki Teleworker Z3 is a secure remote access VPN. The Z3 is an incredibly fast and easy way to set up and connect remote workers to your company networks without having to change their end user machine, install software, or remember passwords.
The Z3 provides a VPN to securely connect to your company network, plus fast 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi, 4 wired ports, a GbE WAN port, 4 GbE LAN ports, support for VoIP phones, and a firewall that separates corporate and personal traffic.
Via the Z3, remote workers can securely connect to your business network from their desktop, laptop or tablet, even if they’re using their own device. You just ship them a pre-configured Z3, and all they have to do is connect the power source, connect it to the Internet, plug in a VoIP phone if they use one, and turn it on.
It only takes about 10 minutes to set each Z3 for your workers. You simply create a remote network in the Merakai dashboard, add access points, identify the SSIDs that will be tunneled, and you’re done. Then ship the access point to your worker to plug into their cable or DSL modem. The devices are cloud-managed, so you can manage and monitor thousands of remote locations from a single pane of glass. And there’s no need for a wireless LAN controller at headquarters.
For more information on how to prepare your workforce to work remotely, as well as pricing and availability on Cisco’s Meraki Teleworker Z3, contact our experts and we can work with you to assemble and carry out a plan that will work best for your business.