April 10, 2020 | Jamie Lohrungruang

Novel Business Concept “Work from Home”

Increase network capacity for more remote users

COVID-19 has created an increase in demand for remote access. Suddenly, employees are being asked to work remotely. The demand for VPN connection can increase to 500% or more.

Most small to mid-size companies may not have the infrastructure and tools to support this demand, unless they are entirely on the cloud using SAAS based applications.

For most of the companies that still have business applications hosted inhouse and have network share drives, this increase in demand can be crippling. Here are some simple ways to quickly enhance your infrastructure and get your employees to be as productive as they can be.

Internet vs. VPN bandwidth

Your demand for both the Internet and VPN bandwidth will increase. If you are currently running on a 200mbps Internet connection and 50mbps VPN, consider increasing your VPN bandwidth to 100mbps to 150mbps since most of the activities will come from your remote users. If that is still not enough, increase your internet connection to 500mbps or 1gbps and add more bandwidth to VPN. Remember, the users will be utilizing the internet through your network while they are on VPN, so it is essential to make sure you have enough Internet bandwidth.

Note that there is a way to configure the VPN so that the user can access company resources through the VPN connection while navigating the internet through their internet provider. However, this is not recommended due to an increase in security risk.

Cost of VPN

Many companies may have purchased a bucket of concurrent licenses for VPN from a 3rd party vendor. Overnight, those licenses are depleted. You can buy more licenses to fulfill this need. However, consider how long the contract term is. You don’t want to be committed to a long-term contract while the need may only be temporary. Instead, consider using a VPN that comes with your firewall. Typically, there is no additional fee to use the VPN that comes with the firewall.

Companies, such as Fortinet and others, offer free VPN with the use of their equipment. Typically, the number of VPN connections will vary depending on the capacity of the individual hardware. For example, if you have the FortiGate 100F, you can have up to 200 VPN connections. Setting up VPN using your firewall is a great way to increase your VPN capacity.

If multifactor authentication is required, configure the VPN and connect to Microsoft AD. For Azure platform, enable multifactor authentication through MS Azure AD. When using AWS, enable multifactor authentication for your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

Team collaboration tool

Allowing employees to work remotely will require you to have a practical collaboration tool. Microsoft Office 365 offers collaboration tool through MS Teams. MS Teams can be utilized for instant messaging, video conferencing, document sharing, and more. It is a great alternative to in-person collaboration. Other tools to consider include Slack, Trello, and Google (or any combination).

Training and Communication

Training is essential in order for team members learn how to use the tools for working remotely. A quick reference guide can be helpful in navigating these new changes. Additionally, set clear expectations for working remotely. Your employees need to understand what you need them to accomplish. At your organization, what will the expectations be for timeliness, deliverables, progress? Unless they understand the expectations for working remotely, you will not see the productivity you are hoping for.

Doing things differently

Finally, your organization must do things differently. With most of your employees working remotely, it is challenging to get everyone on the same page. You can’t just walk over to someone’s desk to discuss a problem. You can’t quickly gather people in a conference room for an urgent issue. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure you check in with your employees regularly. One way is to have a daily video conference to get your team on the same page. Employees must be easily reachable throughout the workday. Set the expectation that the team members are logged on to their collaboration tool. Employees should regularly connect with their team to execute their tasks.

We are all in this together.

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