It now appears that for many of us home working will become a daily part of our life for the foreseeable future and possibly even for the years to come. Most people are now practiced at working from home, but after the previous weeks you may be noticing some problems with the setup that you have in terms of functionality and performance.
We get many questions from customers and I have summarised the most common below.
Many home workers use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), this connects your computer at home to the office over the Internet. Many customers use the Microsoft VPN client Which is included with Windows or the software that comes with their firewall such as Cisco Anyconnect.
If you are using a company laptop and only need access to standard data files such as Word, and Excel then it will work fine. It doesn’t work or isn't supported for many business systems such as Sage Accounts. In this current crisis most of our customers need a greater level of access than this.
There are also security implications for users who are using personal devices to VPN in to the office , which we will cover next.
The last thing anyone needs right now is a data breach or virus to disrupt the business, security is still very important. You may have all the antivirus and security systems for use in your office but many home users don’t protect their systems to the same level.
If you use a VPN to connect your personal PC to the office then you risk compromising the office network as viruses and malware can pass over the VPN to the office systems. We would really recommend that you do not connect personal computers to the office via VPN.
We see a lot of users start with remote control software such as TeamViewer, and Logmein to access their office PC’s and then find that they need to move on to something more suitable. These are more secure from personal PC’s but these systems are really geared towards IT support teams and they don’t provide the best working experience for employees. These remote control tools are typically paid for on a subscription for business use and are not generally free.
There are however excellent alternatives built-in to Microsoft Windows. Consider using Remote Desktop, this is a method of logging in to to your office PC and running applications as though you were there. All your normal shortcuts and programs will be available and everything will look and behave the same. This is more efficient than most of the remote control tools and can provide a better experience. Only one user at a time can be connected to a PC using Remote Desktop.
If you are concerned about security then we recommend using Remote Desktop to login to your office PC and this can be setup so that employees can access the system from a web page (known as Remote Desktop Web Gateway) . This makes the system very easy to use and removes the risk of running a VPN from home PC’s.
For companies with an internal server we can run the Remote Desktop on the server allowing multiple users to connect at the same time, this is easier to manage and control and the office PC’s don’t need to be turned on all the time, or they can even be taken home and used.
To solve this problem we need to implement the solutions from questions 1 to 3 and look at reasons equipment.
The most secure way of accessing the office and working remotely is to use a company laptop and some form of Remote Desktop. Laptop screens are often too small for long term use so its best to add a full size screen , keyboard and mouse or temporarily take these from the office setup. Its a good idea to add a USB headset and microphone for those Teams calls that everyone is making.
Once we move out of the current crisis I would expect more people to want to work from home, at least part time. In this case if you have a docking station in the office then switching between the two locations is much easier and just a matter of connecting a single cable. More companies are considering replacing older PC’s with laptops instead of desktop PC’s. This will definitely be a more popular solution from 2020 onwards.