Telecommuting is something many of of us have become very familiar with this past year. Telecommuting gives employees the flexibility to work where it’s convenient for them to balance their work and personal lives, or in the case of the past year, to protect their health.
It’s been a crazy year for businesses, as most were forced at the beginning of 2020 to embrace a telecommuting, work-from-home policy. Businesses in Iowa started transitioning to a remote office gradually, with most transitioning mid March. During this time, the technicians at ITS stayed busy helping our business clients get set up for remote work.
Hosted Desktop/Hosted Server
Many users with a cloud-hosted or a cloud server have taken remote-working in stride: ITS techs may have had to help add local printers, walk you through dual-monitor setups, or help install the Citrix client on a home/secondary machine. That is one of the great features of a cloud-hosted scenario: your resources are ready to go wherever you want to work.
Another option for remote working utilizes a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection with your firewall. This creates a private and secure tunnel to help you access the server. Each firewall will have different licensing requirements and setup steps.
SonicWall SSL-VPN licenses are typically an additional fee. SonicWall has lowered license fees to support businesses suddenly shifting to remote work. If you have an Active Directory login, we sync this with your SonicWall login to give you one set of credentials to remember and simplify your VPN experience.
Meraki VPN licenses are unlimited and are included in your firewall license. Users are entered into the Meraki dashboard and receive a shared secret or password to use in combination with their email address.
Other Firewall Brands
Other firewall manufacturers likely have a VPN option, and chances are good that ITS has supported your model before. Check with us if you need help purchasing additional licenses or setting up your VPN connection.
General VPN Safety
It is important to remember that malware, viruses etc. that are installed on your computer can transfer to the server via your VPN tunnel. Keep your antivirus up-to-date and be smart about where you click!
Other Remote Work Tools
Microsoft 365 and Google Apps contain a full toolset for remote and on-premise users. If you already have your email and office applications in one of these services, you can easily share files for collaboration. If you are not using these services, they are easy for ITS to provision remotely.
Some IT providers or administrators staff can also set up Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to your machine. This is only secure if provisioned through a VPN. If Remote Desktop is opened to the outside without security protocols it can allow attackers to use dictionary, social engineering, or brute force attacks on your system. The encryption on an RDP session is low and can be hacked more easily than other remote connection standards. VNC is another similar tool, and again should not be used without proper firewall settings in place.
Perhaps one of the most important things to consider for remote work is how your team will keep communication going as smoothly as it would in person. A big part of this is how meetings are held in the remote office environment.
ITS offers many options for video conferencing software. All of these options are easy to use, promote better collaboration, and increase efficiency in the workplace.
Microsoft 365 Users
Microsoft 365 provides Teams, a collaboration and communication platform included with you 365 apps. These tools are available for Business and Education clients, as well as home users!
Features of Teams Include:
- Chat between users and small groups
- Share documents/files for viewing and collaboration
- Video and audio calls
- Emojis, memes, and GIFs
- Collaborate internally and externally, securely
- Access from multiple devices
If you are already using Microsoft 365, contact ITS to learn more about using Teams!
Intermedia offers several different video conferencing plans. All AnyMeeting plans include:
- Full HD video: 720p HD video conferencing with up to 30 webcams supported (Pro and Enterprise only).
- Audio: Conference call numbers and PINs are provided, so participants can join by phone or computer.
- Screen sharing: Share your screen for more interactive meetings.
- Screen annotation: Meeting participants can call out important points on a shared screen in real-time during a meeting.
AnyMeeting Pro plans also include:
- Meeting transcripts and insights: Meeting hosts can transcribe recorded meetings and automatically identifies actionable items.
- Notes: Capture meeting notes in real-time-notes are automatically sent to all meeting participants.
- Remote control: Give participants direct control of your keyboard and mouse so you can collaborate better together.
3CX has a communications system already integrated with your phones and free to use. Imagine professional video conferencing that is simple to use and free. 3CX is a complete communications system that offers you integrated video calling. This means you don’t need to use separate apps for video. If you’re in a call, a single click invites participants to switch to video, without planning a conference call. You can join meetings directly from your browser without installing any plugins. Advanced features allow you to view & control remote screens, share document, present on a whiteboard, chat and create polls. No extra cost, no time restrictions, and no user limits!
Easy. No downloads or accounts
- Fully integrated with the 3CX browser & mobile apps.
- Attendees join in a browser. No app or account required.
- Switch to video during a call in a single click.
- High-quality, real-time video ensured by WebRTC.
Free for unlimited users
- Included with 3CX, at no extra cost.
- Unlimited users, with all editions of 3CX.
- Free for Standard edition.
- Use anywhere on any device; mobile or web browser.
Advanced collaboration features
- Share your screen for presentations & online classroms.
- Liven up information with an on-screen whiteboard.
- Interactive meetings using document sharing, chat & polling.
- Hands-on troubleshooting & training with remote screen control.
Help your team stay securely connected with enterprise-grade video conferencing built on Google’s robust and secure global infrastructure. Meet is included with Google Workspace, Google Workspace Essentials, and Google Workspace for Education.
- Join meetings on the go
- Seamlessly jump into a video call from Chat
- Take document collaboration to the next level by connecting over video