With more than 50% of employees working from home at least once a week, employers are challenged to provide information technology resources outside of the traditional workspace. Those working remotely full time or even just occasionally require the same IT resources needed to do the job at the business location.
Remote access, rather than being an IT afterthought or a special add-on to the traditional network, has evolved into an integral portion of a company’s overall IT strategy.
The basic considerations for an employer looking to extend the reach of their IT to remote workers starts with internet access, making access to cloud and corporate services possible.
The need for robust, high-speed internet access cannot be overstated. Without a fast, reliable connection to the internet, trying to productively work remotely is akin to trying to tie your shoes with one hand tied behind your back. It’s possible but not as efficient as it would be otherwise.
Here are a few important considerations for internet services:
Speed (download and upload)
Bandwidth must be sufficient to accommodate the type of work required. Workers who must access videos or images as part of their work will require more bandwidth than those who will only access email and documents. Traditional residential internet service will tout high-speeds at a low cost, but many will only be high-speed on the download portion of the offering, with a much slower upload speed.
Remote workers, depending on their assignments and work role, can find themselves uploading data to company resources as frequently as they’re downloading it, so a slow upload speed can be limiting. Even though they tend to be more expensive, internet service offerings geared toward businesses are the way to go for the remote worker.
In a perfect world, an employee who primarily works remotely will have a dedicated internet circuit for their business use. It can be very frustrating for those at home and at work when employees are fighting with the other members of the household for internet access. A devoted internet connection for remote work is recommended, as sharing of bandwidth can be a bottleneck that impacts productivity.
Managers, coordinating with the employee and their company’s IT team, need to review the internet service provider’s offering and service level agreement (SLA) to assure that factors such as quality of service (QoS) are available to prioritize latency-sensitive voice and video services. Cost will also be a consideration.
This review should occur prior to the employee signing a contract with the internet service provider (ISP). A worst-case scenario is an employee signing a long-term contract for a service that is inappropriate for the work they need to do, and being stuck with monthly charges or expensive early termination fines.
Internet access medium
Internet access is delivered over a variety of different media, and some are better than others for remote workers. Some services will have higher latency than others. Latency can introduce issues that may preclude establishing a VPN tunnel, a secure and frequently used connection method.
Latency creates a noticeable delay between typing and characters appearing on the screen when working on remote systems like remote desktop or Citrix systems. Again, the company’s IT team can assist the remote worker with selecting the internet connection media, prior to signing up for the service.
Soni Lampert is principal and CEO of KLH Consulting Inc. and Vintegrate Winery Software in Santa Rosa. Read past editions of IT Matters at nbbj.news/itmatters.