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Adapting your infrastructure for remote working

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, remote working has been a much discussed topic, with employees, employers and industry experts all having their own preferences and predictions. It is clear remote working, whether a fully remote workplace, hybrid arrangement, or just the flexibility for employees to choose the occasional day working from home, is here to stay. As a business, there are several considerations in adapting your infrastructure to support remote working.

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Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, 4.7% of the UK’s active workforce considered home to be their main place of work. While government guidance was to work from home if possible, this increased to 43.1% in April 2020 (Wiserd). Although this percentage decreased after guidance to work from home was lifted, 14% of workers were still working exclusively from home in May 2022, and 24% were hybrid working (ONS). 

Some predictions made during the early days of remote working during the pandemic were of a fully remote future, however the statistics now seem to show the real trend has been towards flexible working, with the opportunity to work from home regularly or occasionally. So, for those looking to implement any level of remote working solution, here are a few key factors to consider. 

Infrastructure

A mass move to remote working can put huge pressure on on-premise IT infrastructure, which can lead to a poor end-user experience. If the infrastructure struggles to cope, you could end up with slow systems and insecure connections, leading to increased frustration and decreased productivity. 

Choosing a cloud-based infrastructure helps to ease the pressure by offering the capacity to cope with fluctuating demand. With internet-connected employees able to access their workspace from anywhere, on any device, at any time, the cloud facilitates flexible working. Every business has different needs, so opting for the right cloud solution is vital for long-term success as a remote workforce – be it public, private, enterprise or hybrid cloud.

You will likely need to implement a virtual desktop solution – an interface for your employees to access systems, applications and files from a remote device. There are two cloud-based options, Desktop-as-a-Service and VDI, which serve similar functions but with several differences. You can find more details on the two options, and which may suit you best on our insight ‘VDI vs Daas’.  

Whether you are in the office or working from home, you should have a disaster recovery and backups plan in place. If something happens to your primary site – whether that is the office or the data centre – you will want to have a backup of your data and infrastructure to keep you up and running in the event of a disaster. If your infrastructure is offline, then so is your workforce.

Cost

Office rent can be a high operational expense (OpEx) for many businesses, added to by high energy bills. If you opt for a fully remote workforce, this removes this cost entirely, as you do not need to operate from a physical base. If you are opting for a hybrid/flexible workforce, this can still allow you to opt for a smaller office, as you will have less employees in the office at one time. 

Whilst you may save money on office rent and bills, it is important to remember that there may be some initial costs involved, such as ensuring that all employees are equipped with laptops and a comfortable workstation. Some companies even give employees a homeworking budget to buy a proper chair, desk and desktop computer for their home office.

It is also worth thinking about connectivity; do your home workers have a stable or strong internet connection to log in remotely, or would you have to think about upgrading them?

Security 

Whether you are looking to move to a fully remote workforce, or you simply want to offer more flexible working arrangements, accessing sensitive data from outside of the office requires a robust cybersecurity strategy. So, when it comes to remote working, everyone should utilise a Virtual Private Network (VPN) – the backbone of many remote workforces, which allows encrypted access to the internet and secure file sharing with employees. 

A virtual desktop solution, either VDI or DaaS, is a secure method for employees to access files and applications. An SFTP solution can also allow for the secure transfer of data, allowing your employees to upload, share, and download files. 

Ensure you review your security policies and make revisions where necessary, with an emphasis on sharing sensitive company information over non-secure channels, such as Slack or WhatsApp. 

When physical assets such as laptops or desktops are used outside of the office, it is unlikely that your employees will have an enterprise-grade firewall protecting their network. You, therefore, must insist on basic home network security; devices should be protected with an antivirus solution with regular updates, and employees should use strong router passwords.

Communication

Effective remote working is not solely a technology problem. It is about people as well as infrastructure. Human interaction is an integral part of collaboration and communication, which, in turn, can make working remotely challenging. 

When you’re working in the office, it is easy to form relationships and have impromptu interactions with colleagues. But if you fail to make the effort to interact with colleagues virtually, those relationships can quickly deteriorate and make your job harder. Using tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack helps to keep colleagues connected and engaged.

Management

One final consideration for moving to a fully-remote workforce is deciding who will take on the complex task of managing your infrastructure, security and general communication. 

You have two options; host your infrastructure with a provider who will take on the management for you, or employ an infrastructure manager in-house. Managing your infrastructure in house will give you full control, however you will have the staff cost of hiring an expert in the field, which will generally be more expensive than outsourcing management. With a managed provider with personal service, you can work with their team of experts to design your solution, run it day to day, and support with any issues.

Whether you choose to manage your remote working infrastructure in-house, or through a managed provider, it is essential to have a strategic plan for management.

Do you need support with your remote working infrastructure? 

At Hyve, we provide industry-leading infrastructure to offer robust, scalable and secure remote working solutions. Fill out our contact form and one of our cloud experts will be in touch.

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