Mid-March saw the UK government begin the lockdown process. Initially covering social contact, then the closure of bars and restaurants. It was inevitable the COVID-19 lockdown rules would affect every business across the UK.
From 23rd March 2020, those who could work from home were encouraged to do so.
How do you mobilise your team with such short notice?
There are many factors you need to consider when setting up an entire team to work remotely and use a VPN. No matter what size of business you have, there will be limitations that you may not have been aware of prior to lockdown.
Many business continuity plans have been tested to the limits during this time.
The biggest issue some of our customers faced was setting up secure access to networks so staff could continue to work. In this previous post, How to Set up Remote Working for your Team, we covered the top 5 things to consider – including VPN access.
Problems we solved
Is your Business Broadband good enough and does it have the bandwidth to support remote working? This is critical as it could be the weakest link.
Many companies put up with inferior broadband because they are only using it for web browsing and not for any business application. This is a false economy. Today all business has a cloud element as many have also begun the migration Microsoft 365. (previously Office 365).
How to Access the Office Network
Next, you need to consider how the remote PC is going to connect to the Office network. There are 2 elements to consider: security and reliability.
The best way to achieve this is by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This means your team can access the network infrastructure in your office remotely.
Put simply, at its core, every VPN is essentially a tunnel; in fact, they’re often described using that word. The data transferred within the “tunnel” between the business network and the home office is encrypted to ensure a safe and secure transaction.
Supporting our customers through COVID-19
Turnkey have provided IT software & hardware support to our business for many years. We moved early to ensure we were well prepared for all our staff to work at home.
Turnkey gave us clear advice as to our hardware & remote access software requirements. These were delivered to us promptly & efficiently enabling us to do a test run the week before lockdown was imposed.
The few teething problems that arose were quickly sorted & Turnkey have been giving us their usual ongoing IT support during these difficult times. As a result we have been able to operate our business as normal and continue to do so.
Colin Liddell, Finance Director, Sco-Fro Group
Not all routers support VPN and some that do require a paid-for licence. Routers will have a maximum number of VPNs they will support without affecting the performance. Some routers will just not allow you to exceed their maximum number and refuse the connection.
For small businesses, a “client” VPN which is another solution. However, there are enterprise-level routers which offer more functionality with an average cost of licence not exceeding £40 per VPN Connection.
Security: PC’s and Laptops
How secure is the PC you are using remotely to access the Office Network? It’s not as simple connecting a personal PC to the network using a VPN. Employees would have to agree to install a 3rd party VPN client to their personal computer.
The employer also has to consider the security and integrity of their network.
A VPN is essentially an extension of the Office network. If you wouldn’t let employees connect a personal PC to your network in the office – then the same rule needs to apply to remote working.
With no control or jurisdiction regarding the security of the data or for example anti-virus, it’s recommended that the employer supplies the PC.
RDS Server (Remote Desktop Server)
When Broadband connection speeds result in slow access to files, the recommended solution is to use an RDS Server (Remote Desktop Server).
This allows the user to log on to a remote server session and run all apps as if they were sitting in the office. If this is the preferred route, talk to our team about getting set up.