What are my ‘work from home’ technology options?

Posted by Dionne on March 17, 2020 at 3:55 PM
man-sitting-down-and-using-his-laptop-374085If you’ve considered the option of working from home or been given the option to do so, here are a few ways to accomplish that.

Using a VPN

You may have heard of VPNs but didn’t know what it meant. Without getting too technical, a VPN allows you to use a computer to connect to your office, with encryption, without physically being there. There are tools that need to be in place to accomplish this. Typically, you’ll need some or all of the following items:
  • A firewall device at your office to accept incoming connections
  • A computer at home to connect from
  • For some users, a computer in the office to connect to
  • A stable Internet connection on both ends
Using a VPN can allow you to work from home and appear as if you’re 'in the office'. There are certainly limitations to this, as you can imagine. You won’t have your printers available, and some shared folders might not show up right away. Some configuration might be needed as well. Overall, it’s the generally accepted best practice to connect to your office network.

Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop is way of connecting to your work computer from another computer outside of the office. A VPN is not necessarily required in this setup. This setup has a higher security risk than the VPN option. However, if you don’t have VPN as an alternative, it will function well for working remotely.

In this scenario, you’d be connecting to your work computer. Everything that’s usually available when you’re working in the office should be available to you via Remote Desktop. Please note that your connection may be a tad slower than if you were in the office.

Office365, Microsoft One Drive, Dropbox, Box.com, Carbonite, Cloud Storage

Various Cloud services can synchronize your work files from your computer to the Cloud, allowing you to access them remotely. 

In this scenario, your files are accessible from any computer that you are using, as long as you are logged into your Cloud service. For example, opening an Excel file on your home computer from a Cloud service will sync back to your work computer, assuming the same service is set up there. Note that very large files will take a longer time to synchronize and will depend on the speed of your home Internet connection. No VPN or Remote Desktop is needed to access Cloud files.

If you have Office 365 Business or higher, you can access Word, Excel and other applications online without having to install them on your personal computers. Then you can access your personal work files from One Drive, which will synchronize back to your work computer.

Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom

Staying in touch is of critical importance when working from home. These programs allow you to communicate with your group or company to continue working and collaborating on projects, or just to keep in touch.

Microsoft Teams is bundled with many Office 365 plans, and it allows you to collaborate and chat with other users inside and outside of your company. If you’ve used Skype in the past, you’ll be comfortable with Teams’ video chat features. Messaging is available directly from person to person, or a channel or group can be created.

Slack is a great tool for messaging and collaboration with many of the same features of Teams. It also allows you to use it as a phone service. No video messaging is included, but the interface is cleaner and more straightforward. It's also what we use at Bennett/Porter!

Zoom is a great tool for video conferencing, featuring rock solid connectivity and easy options to invite others to conferences and meetings.

All these programs work great on a computer or your mobile device.

Bennett/Porter Hosted Cloud Services

If working remotely is of interest to you or your employees, we can help! Many of our clients are hosting their Sage100, Acumatica, and Microsoft Exchange email with Bennett/Porter. Our world-class secured datacenter allows access to these programs from anywhere in the world. Ask us how your company can get set up to access these programs remotely and decrease your reliance on physical hardware.

Working from home can allow you to be very productive, assuming you have the right tools in place. If you have questions about your setup or need assistance, our IT team is here to help!

Topics: Information Technology, Cloud Computing, Business Technology, Technology Services

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