Chamber Meeting Highlights Remote Workforce Methods & Precautions

Technology Advisory Group business leader Gary Harlam offers remote workforce solutions. There are ways to access data stored in the Cloud and office computers.  

Technology Advisory Group business leader Gary Harlam offers remote workforce solutions. There are ways to access data stored in the Cloud and office computers.  

Rhode Island has implemented stringent health and safety mandates to stop the spread of COVID-19. Included in the guidelines are the brick-and-mortar closures of many non-essential businesses. But a recent discussion between former Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce chairman Rick Nagele and Gary Harlam of the Technology Advisory Group highlights the fact that many companies do not need to shutter.

“Just because we are facing a crisis in our community right now, doesn’t mean you have to stop working,” Harlam said. “Hopefully, each business has a disaster plan in place to define how they are going to operate in this time of need.”

The key to keeping organizations productive until staff can safely return to workspaces rests on the ability to access data remotely or in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, from home. As the Technology Advisory Group business leader points out, there are two ways that companies can engage their valued staff members — office-based network connections and the Cloud.

Two Ways Workforces Can Access Data Remotely

In recent years, many organizations had already begun shifting portions, if not all, of their data to the Cloud. That’s largely because Cloud subscriptions are cost-effective ways to house electronic files and information.

“One of the benefits of being in the Cloud is just this, mobile access to the applications so most companies should be able to access those applications and data the same way from home they do in the office,” Harlam said.

The system also allows management and designated employees to access information or conduct tasks from anywhere they can get a wireless internet connection. But there will be some minor hurdles for companies that wish to add workers remotely. If the applications are already in place, increased users may come with modestly higher licensing fees.

Business leaders would also be wise to ensure new remote workforces have the necessary cybersecurity measures in place. Hackers have been hard at work trying to take advantage of the global health crisis by ferreting out cybersecurity gaps, and new remote employees are targets. Measures such as the following are essential to safe, secure connectivity.

  • Business-Grade Firewalls
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
  • Latest Antivirus Software
  • Fully Patched Applications
  • Encrypted File and Data Transmissions

As Harlam points out in the remote workforce discussion, an organization that has not yet transitioned to the Cloud may be able to access facility-based networks remotely.

Someone will need to enter the facility and power up the computers and network. Once operational, settings must be changed to prevent the hardware from going into sleep mode. Naturally, everything must remain powered up for remote access.

Remote workers can then go directly to their firewalls, and an IT provider can assist them in accessing data. Harlam highlighted several applications that can allow seamless access from home.

  • Not In The Cloud
  • LogMeIn
  • GoToMyPC
  • AnyDesk

“Some require a small subscription and monthly fee. Typically, these programs, once you register to the website, you put an agent on the computer in the office,’ Harlam said. “And, when you log into the website, you’ll have access to any to any of the computers who have those agents.”

He also noted that enhanced cybersecurity may be a necessity when leveraging data in this fashion.

“If they start using something built into Windows called the Remote Desktop connection. And they access that through their firewall, we want to make sure that’s done securely through a VPN,” he said.

Although businesses face substantial disruption during the COVID-19 outbreak, managed IT professionals can facilitate quick transitions to remote workforce capabilities.