Remote work isn't just a cool perk offered by a few forward-thinking companies anymore—it's the new normal. With everyone craving flexibility and companies looking to save money and get the best talent, working from home has shifted from exception to expectation.
IT support, always a big deal in the office, has become even more important now that many of us are logging in from our living rooms or kitchen tables. So, what should you know to keep tech hiccups from ruining your day? Stick around because we're diving deep into the best IT practices to support remote workers.
5 biggest challenges remote workers face
Before we jump into the best IT support practices for a remote workforce, it's vital to know what remote workers are up against. These aren't just your typical office problems but different challenges.
Things like distance between team members, different time zones, and varying degrees of tech skills can turn simple tasks into complex puzzles while working remotely. Get ready because we're about to unpack these unique challenges and give you the lowdown on dealing with them.
Ensuring devices are up-to-date
In a regular office, the IT team ensures everyone's computer is updated. But when you're working remotely, that's usually on your remote workforce. Out-of-date software can slow remote workers down and make their systems less secure. Threat actors love finding old software because it's easier to break into.
For companies, this is a big challenge. They need a solid plan to manage this so that remote employees update their devices without causing work delays or risking the person’s or company's online security. The plan must be easy for everyone to follow, even if they are managers and not tech experts.
Resolving IT issues in a timely manner
When everyone is in the office, IT issues get sorted out fast. At home, it's a different story. Remote employees might have to try fixing problems while chatting with an IT expert. This can take more time and doesn't necessarily lead to a solution.
It gets even trickier when remote employees work in different time zones or have odd hours. Even if remote employee support is available all day, the ideal time to fix or manage a problem might be missed. Companies need a plan to make sure IT issues are addressed and resolved fast, no matter where their employees are.
Securing remote work environments
While your employees work remotely, their network becomes a part of your company's network. This can be risky because many employees get remote access, and their devices may not be as secure. Bad passwords or insecure devices can offer hackers an easy way in.
Companies have difficulty ensuring their remote workforce follows good security practices outside the office across all their devices. The strategies for an office building might not work for someone's living room. Businesses need to think creatively and always be on the lookout for risks that could affect everyone in the company.
Maintaining effective communication
Poor communication makes it harder to support remote workers, affecting productivity and morale. Clear communication in virtual meetings is essential for all remote work support teams. But technical problems can make this challenging. A glitchy video call can stop a meeting and lead to misunderstandings.
Poor communication is more than an annoyance—it hampers remote work. Unclear guidelines on file access or IT support can derail projects. Companies must improve communication methods to keep remote teams effective
Time management and work-life boundaries
When employees work from home, the line between work and personal life often blurs. This flexibility is a double-edged sword: while convenient, it can make it tough for employees to "switch off" and enjoy their time.
Companies should be proactive about this issue. One way to address it is by offering guidelines or formal training on managing time and setting healthy work-life boundaries. By doing this, a company can help employees get the most out of remote work, boosting productivity and overall job satisfaction.
Best practices for remote workers' IT support
When your team is remote, you need a game plan for tech support. Software should be up-to-date, and if tech issues pop up, you'll need a way to tackle them quickly.
In this section, we'll share the key steps to ensure remote workers' IT support is up to the challenge of supporting the whole remote workforce.
Embracing cloud technology for efficiency
When working remotely, accessing company resources via cloud technology like Google Drive or Dropbox is often essential. However, convenience isn't the only factor; security is equally crucial. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) might be necessary for more sensitive internal resources for secure access.
Companies should consider using virtual private networks like NordLayer to ensure the organization's data and cloud assets are more protected from threat actors. This can be done with the help of IP whitelisting (allowlisting).
This method gives remote workers access to the network by ignoring the firewall. And if the IP is not whitelisted, the user's data doesn’t go through. IP allowlisting is excellent for Network Access Control (NAC), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) user management, Internet of Things (IoT) security, and more.
24/7 availability of IT remote workers' support
Technical problems can pop up anytime, and waiting until the next business day is often not an option. An IT team available 24/7 is essential for dealing with these unpredictable issues.
Implementing 24/7 IT support does not necessitate the overexertion of your current personnel. Through judicious scheduling and the strategic employment of remote support teams situated in diverse time zones, assistance can be made continuously available at a mere click of a button or a phone call.
Strengthening security measures
All devices that connect to your company's network must be secure. You can't afford weak links to secure access and protect important data. A good start is to set up identity access management solutions (IAM), two-factor authentication (2FA), or multi-factor authentication (MFA), where your remote workforce must provide more verification factors or methods of authentication before logging in.
Another effective measure is single sign-on (SSO), which lets users access many services with one login credential. This makes things easier for employees and lowers the chances of password-related security breaches.
Additionally, incorporating a Remote Access VPN solution like NordLayer can secure data transmission and safeguard sensitive information, offering an extra layer of security that's crucial in a remote work setting.
Fostering communication and collaboration
Effective communication is the backbone of any remote work setup. Communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams are popular for remote workers because they do the job. But you'll want to add an extra layer of security to these platforms.
Moreover, make sure you hold regular team meetings to keep everyone on the same page about the communication methods and how to use them.
Automated software updates
Ensuring that all software is updated with the latest security fixes is paramount for maintaining a secure remote work environment. While automating software updates is one straightforward approach, advanced features like NordLayer's Device Posture Security offer an added layer of security. This feature checks if devices comply with multiple predefined rule sets and identifies unknown devices in the network.
Moreover, it ensures that the operating system and NordLayer application are up-to-date, thereby bolstering the security of your remote workforce. Importantly, IT teams are notified about non-compliant devices on the network, allowing for immediate corrective action.
Incorporating both automated software updates and device posture security measures will further fortify your network against potential vulnerabilities.
Best practices for remote team management
Managing a remote team has its own set of hurdles. From dealing with different time zones to ensuring everyone's on the same page, the usual management playbook might not cut it.
Keep reading, and we'll share essential tips to help you manage your remote team like a pro, ensuring you can handle the unique challenges that come with it.
Setting clear expectations
For a team working remotely, it's crucial to know what's expected. This isn't just about which apps to use for talking or video meetings. There are other rules, too. For example, everyone might have to use a VPN all the time for better security. The remote workforce should contact IT support immediately if something looks off or doesn't work right.
Also, there are usually other restrictions around what sites remote workers should not be able to access during work hours. Those include gambling sites, adult sites, or gaming during work. Features like DNS Filtering from NordLayer can help block these sites to ensure everyone is focused on work. By laying down these rules clearly, DNS Filtering helps avoid misunderstandings and keeps the team on track.
Setting measurable objectives and deadlines
Goals help a team focus. Setting measurable objectives and giving honest feedback is even more critical in a remote setting. Deadlines help avoid slacking during the day, and measurable deadlines are about daily control to see if the worker's productivity isn't declining.
These objectives should be clear and achievable. They should also be reviewed periodically to make adjustments if necessary. This keeps the team engaged and ensures everyone contributes to the project's success.
Fostering team engagement and well-being
Remote work can sometimes feel isolating. To counter this, managers should actively engage with team members to check their well-being. This can be done through regular one-on-one meetings or team activities designed to build rapport with remote staff.
In addition to work, focus on your team's emotional and mental well-being. Provide resources, training, or activities that can help reduce stress and increase overall job satisfaction.
Streamlining project management
Managing projects remotely can be challenging. Use project management software that enables everyone to keep track of tasks and deadlines. This ensures that all team members can update their progress and stay accountable.
Consistency is key. Stick to one project management tool for all projects and ensure everyone knows how to use it. Regular updates and check-ins can also help track the project's status and make necessary adjustments promptly.
Ease remote working issues with NordLayer
We've gone over a lot in this guide, from the daily challenges of remote work to how to make IT remote support problems less of a headache. Here is where a solution like NordLayer can help. It doesn't just help keep your data safe, it makes your workday smoother by improving control access to company resources.
If you're serious about making your remote work environment as secure and efficient as possible, NordLayer is a tool you should try. Having great remote work support is great, but protecting your network is the key—get in touch with NordLayer.