Is your business ready for remote working at scale?

Tom Allan
Managing Director
Tom Allan
Managing Director

Is your business ready for remote working at scale?

With the increasing focus on limiting the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, many organisations are proactively taking steps to try to protect their employees. These include reducing or cancelling non-critical face-to-face meetings, cancelling events, and even closing down entire offices while directing staff to work remotely.

These are all valid and necessary steps for organisations to consider, and with the Victorian state Premier talking about ‘extreme measures’ which may include shutting down entire sectors and workforces, preparations must be made to ensure the impact to Australian businesses is limited.

Unfortunately, many businesses will have never tested their remote working solutions under such load, and unless they have modernised in the past few years are likely to encounter challenges.

If you need to enable your workforce to work remotely at short notice, the following is a useful checklist to consider:

Capacity

  • Does your current remote working solution have the capacity to handle a large number of concurrent users?
  • Do you have the bandwidth necessary for all of those users to be connecting via faster NBN Internet connections than those that were available a few years ago?
  • Are the Internet connections into your organisation large enough to handle this traffic, and if they become overloaded from remote users, will it impact customer-facing applications?

Performance

  • Is your remote access solution on-premises within a datacentre?
  • If so, will this provide suitable performance for your corporate SaaS applications when traffic hairpins from your users into your datacentre, out to the Internet, back into the datacentre, then back to your users at home?
  • Is your corporate Internet fast enough to handle voice and video traffic while your staff work remotely and dial into meetings?

Security

  • Do all users have corporate-owned devices which are secured by the enterprise? If not, what platform will they use to work remotely, and how will you secure it?
  • Do all devices route Internet traffic through the enterprise security platforms when connected or do they connect locally? How will you stop threats being downloaded locally from entering the corporate network?
  • Do you have clear visibility on traffic that comes in from your remote users with behavioural analytics to identify if unusual logins or traffic patterns are emerging?
  • Does everyone have the access they need to do their job while working remotely? Are your authentication and access policies in line with the enterprise?
  • Are there any compliance obligations which you need to consider when your data is outside of your controlled enterprise network?

Productivity

  • Do you know what the critical mass is for your remote access system and what the business impact would be if this threshold is exceeded?
  • Do you have an Internet-based audio/video conference platform that can be used by your staff from anywhere at any time? Will performance issues reduce the ability of your staff to work productively (or at all)?

Understanding your current situation and the ability to support your workforce is the first step. If this highlights potential problems, you can look to deploy one of the numerous cloud-based, remote access solutions available (called various things such as secure access gateways and secure access service edge etc). These are relatively easy and quick to deploy, which can solve many of the challenges in having a large workforce working remotely. They generally include rapid provisioning (without the need to purchase any hardware) optimised secure access to cloud and on-premises applications, advanced security, and scalability.

Some other issues though such as the capacity of your underlying Internet connectivity can take longer to deal with, so knowing the limits of what services you can provide now will allow you to plan effectively.

I encourage you to look into this and ensure that any changes you make to your solution consider all aspects of an effective remote working solution and are based on your organisation’s specific environment.