Secure and Stabilize the Experience Within Your Business for the Long Term
Improve the collaborative experience when working from home, and secure and stabilize the #WFH environment for your team
In our changed world – where employees are sequestered, physically disconnected, and working remotely – that’s when they need a stable, secure and collaborative work environment the most. As Gartner indicated in a recent study of CFOs nationwide, 74% intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently, and that 41% of employees are likely to work remotely at least some of the time post Coronavirus pandemic.
But that’s also when collaborative leadership can be the most difficult – YOU are also working from home. The situation is not easy, but there are some simple strategies you can adopt to make it easier. In this blog, we’ll focus on two areas: (1) Quick tips on improving the Collaborative experience when working from home, and (2) Securing and Stabilizing the #WFH environment.
Your employees need to feel that you are present, accessible, and available, so when you are not in the building, your technology needs to keep you securely connected. At AllConnected, we can recommend several ways to make your work-from-home environment secure and productive.
Tips to Improve Collaboration when Managing Teams From Home
Strategies to Secure and Stabilize your Remote Workforce for the long term:
Furniture and seating aside, your home office should be separate from your home distractions, free of clutter, and as much as possible, similar to your work office.
Your PC desktop, or laptop with docking station, should have the same applications and connect directly to your company network, the Internet and video services.
Try to maintain the same visual display as in-office setups to maintain productivity. If you use dual monitors in the office, set them up for the home office.
- Better multitasking: Multitasking requires adequate screen real estate to keep multiple priorities in view simultaneously. Customer Service or web design tasks become easier if you can “lock” tasks to specific places on your visible screen without resizing windows to fit the limited screen space.
- Enhanced Productivity: Dual monitors increase productivity by 20-50% by reducing the time switching back and forth between tabs. This is especially important for cutting and pasting, and comparing data for coders, media editing and administrative tasks.
Don’t plug your PC directly into the wall. If you use a desktop, make sure it plugs into an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) unit that can protect your hardware from unequal power distribution or failure. These allow you to function temporarily and shut down your PC without losing data in a crisis.
If you use a laptop, its internal battery serves as a UPS in the event of power loss, but make sure you plug your laptop, along with monitor(s) and other office equipment, into a Power Strip Surge Protector to prevent electrical damage from power spikes.
The security of your PC needs the same level of support as the office. By implementing the following hosted and low-cost measures, you can achieve your own personal protection.
Cisco Umbrella provides DNS-level security on your Internet use, preventing you from stumbling into phishing and malware-laden websites and preventing malicious call-backs in case your email is compromised. For content filtering and protection against ransomware learn more with: How to Prepare Your Organization to Fight Ransomware.
As we’ve mentioned in How Secure Is Your Multi-Factor Authentication?, Cisco Duo provides simple and effective Multi-Factor Authentication to protect your office data.
To prevent compromised Email, we recommend ATP, as we discuss in Level Up Email Security: Advanced Threat Protection and 10 Tips.
Home wi-fi doesn’t provide the security your organization needs, so consider a Virtual Private Networking (VPN) to create a secure, private tunnel that runs through your Wi-Fi connection.
VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your Internet use from hackers on public Wi-Fi, and more. For business, it enables you to create a secure, encrypted connection to your company network so you can safely use your resources over the Internet.
For a more secure method to access critical data or a line-of-business application that reduces the need for remote support and bandwidth, you need a virtual desktop. Virtual Desktops present an application running in your secure company office to your remote PC through an encrypted tunnel.
The most common options are Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop Services (RDS), or the more advanced Citrix Service.
Remote Desktop Services (formerly Terminal Services) refers to features of Microsoft Windows Server that allow users to remotely access another PC, virtual desktops and Windows applications. If your software needs are simple — if you don’t use any private applications — Windows RDS is the way to go. You will only need client access licenses (CALs) to connect to your company’s authenticating server.
If you use proprietary applications on your network, we recommend setting up a Citrix VDI environment. Similar to RDS, Citrix is an application that allows you to securely connect to a virtual desktop, server, application, or roaming profile through a terminal session (or another computer).
Citrix provides an all-in-one VPN service capable of providing granular access to a variety of resources and server functions to a remote location.
While standard VPNs require data downloads and updates for each individual computer, Citrix runs in a virtual server environment, reducing data transfer and IT support time for software updates or roll-outs of new software.
- Simple, powerful security from Network to Endpoint: Delivers 802.1x wired port authentication and Wi 802.11ac Wave 2 WiFi for fast and reliable connectivity.
- Self-configuring, self-optimizing, self-healing: When plugged in, the Z-Series automatically connects to the Meraki cloud, downloads its configuration, and joins your network. In case of WAN IP address changes, the Z-Series self-heals by re-establishing the site-to-site VPN tunnels using the new IP address. Also, if a supported SIM card is installed or a 3G/4G modem is connected and primary WAN uplink connectivity fails, the Z-Series will automatically failover to cellular.
- Auto VPN: Connects to your network via a single click without any command line configurations or multi-step key permission setups. It automatically tunnels, hole punches, sets up route tables, and establishes the IPsec connections, completely eliminating the complexity seen in traditional site-to-site VPN solutions.
- VOIP: Depending upon your phone configuration, you may be able to set up your company VOIP phone to function through the POE port.
|Cisco Meraki Z3|
|Recommended use cases||Teleworker with VOIP or PoE, IoT, and M2M|
|Recommended clients||Up to 5 devices|
|Stateful Firewall Throughput||100 Mbps|
|Maximum VPN Throughput||50 Mbps|
|WAN Interfaces||1 x GbE RJ45 1 x USB (cellular failover)|
|Wireless (wi-fi)||Dual-band 802.11ac Wave 2 radios 2×2 MU-MIMO, up to 1.3 Gbps data rate Supports up to 4 SSIDs|
|LAN Interfaces||4 x GbE|
|PoE||1 x PoE enabled port (802.3af, 15.5W)|
|Licensing (annual)||Enterprise license Meraki Insight*|
- Onboard, configure, or patch hundreds of devices with powerful automation tools
- Protect your customers with advanced security solutions
- Resolve issues faster with information at your fingertips and robust remote support
- Improve customer uptime with proactive alerts and self-healing capabilities
- Monitor and manage Windows, Mac, Linux, virtual machines, and network devices
- Organize your services and customers in a single interface
- Customize scripts to meet specific customer or device-type needs
- Improve technician efficiency, customer retention, and service margins
Microsoft Teams: now part of most Office 365 subscriptions, Teams is a full-service collaboration and communication suite. You can set up Kanban task tabs, make Skype video calls and embed recordings, send direct chats and group message to channel team members, and collaborate on documents from other apps, such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
Other options from Google G-suite and Cisco Webex Teams give you a space to chat, share documents and collaborate at home as if you are in the office. Plus, with the new instant messaging and video/voice services, you can build rapport from home without ever missing a beat.
Trying to lead a meeting with poor audio and video quality is one of the biggest reasons we retreat from home usage and meet in the office. The solution to that problem is not simple given the number of potential weak links at home.
This is why we recommend a network management tool to keep your connectivity smooth. We have all shared issues with IT that are not present when troubleshooting, so capturing the data within a tool is important.
Meraki Insight helps IT administrators optimize the end user experience, significantly reducing the time it takes to isolate network or application problems. Advanced options are available with companies like Auvik, and if you are using a product like the Meraki Z3 mentioned above, the included Insight application will share everything needed to ensure performance is smooth. If not, an investment in more, or secondary bandwidth is needed.
The small price and size of the Z3 combined with Network Management enables you to create both a QOS (quality of service) and a secure connection for your home office. If you need an additional guarantee of performance, you can also connect a second 4G LTE (cellular mobile connection like a SIM card found in your iPhone/Android) for an always-on internet connection.
Your employees need executive leadership whether you’re in-office, on-the-road, or working-from-home. As you adapt to the new business environment and implement effective WFH communication, consider how a comprehensive WFH solution will drive productivity and satisfaction. Remember to include:
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