Remote working is now a part of daily life for many
businesses. Whether from home or while out on the road, using remote
infrastructure or a virtual desktop, makes possible to work wherever you are.
That’s good for employees who are able to improve their work/life balance and
good for your business as you can offer more flexible working practices.
More and more businesses are moving their systems to the
cloud, with 69% of enterprise organisations moving their critical
systems to the cloud in 2019. This is an attractive option from the
point of view of cost and also because it provides a good deal of flexibility
as your business grows. But there’s another advantage too. Having your business
systems in the cloud means that they can be accessed from anywhere, at any
time, so you don’t need to be in the office to work.
If you want your business to be part of this home working
revolution, therefore, what do you need to consider?
It goes without saying that use of the cloud requires access
to the internet. As of July 2019 over 96 per cent of Great
Britain has access to broadband at 24 Mbps or faster. However, only 58 per cent
have 100 Mbps or more and just over eight per cent have full fibre. While it’s
likely that your employees will have access to broadband, it is important to
check their connection speeds and whether they will be sufficient to access
your systems effectively.
With the rollout of 5G in the UK and ambitious
plans to get the whole country on fibre broadband by the mid 2020’s, it’s
likely that internet speed blackspots will become fewer and far between.
Of course, allowing access to your cloud systems from
anywhere will raise security issues and open the door up to cybercriminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities
in business systems and networks. It’s vital that you ensure staff have strong
passwords – and preferably some form of multi-factor authentication – to
protect their accounts. It’s also important that everyone has their own login
details and that these are not shared, nor are passwords ‘recycled’ across
When you can access systems from the cloud, the temptation
may also be there to log in from public locations such as railways stations or
coffee shops. Using public Wi-Fi is always risky; if it’s absolutely necessary
for your employees to do this then you should ensure that they use a VPN to
keep their communications secure.
Where mobile devices are used – either owned by the company
or BYOD – then you should look at installing remote device management. This
means that if a laptop or smartphone is lost or stolen, you can remotely wipe
any business data that it may contain and stop it from accessing your cloud
When granting access to your cloud systems (for anyone, not
just remote workers), you should always work from a ‘least privilege’ model,
granting only the access needed to do their job. This is something that needs
to be reviewed regularly as it’s easy to get ‘mission creep’ where people are
granted access in order to perform a specific task but they don’t have it
revoked again afterwards, leaving your systems vulnerable to abuse.
The goal of most businesses is to grow and bring in more
trade. Obviously the advantage of allowing people to work from home is that you
may be able to do this without the need to move to larger premises, thus
keeping your costs down.
You can increase the size of a remote workforce very rapidly if you are relying on cloud computing with staff able to access your systems wherever they are. You may be able to keep your hardware costs down too by allowing people to use their own devices for work purposes.
You will, of course, need to ensure that, wherever they are
working, your personnel are properly trained in using your systems. They also
need to have access to support in the event of problems arising.
It’s tempting to think of homeworkers as sitting in their pyjamas, balancing a laptop and a cup of coffee with daytime TV on in the background. But the cloud is increasingly making working from home a viable prospect for businesses and individuals who may never have considered it before.
It can seem like a dramatic step for a business to take, but
you can’t afford to ignore the benefits that enabling home working has to
offer, both for your business and for your team.