Covid-19 has now hit many countries. Since the beginning of the week, many companies have been implementing containment measures and calling on their employees returning from areas affected by the coronavirus to stay home. Some employees can benefit from teleworking. But how to work efficiently from a distance? Here are 5 tips on tools and organization for an efficient home office.
In addition to these cyclical constraints, there are driving factors that are acting to democratise telework:
On the one hand, the new work platforms (digital workplace or digital workspace) which have become accessible to all, both within the company and remotely (at home or elsewhere).
On the other hand, the willingness of companies to implement digital transformation strategies in order to remain flexible and competitive.
Not forgetting the demand from employees who call for a better work-life balance and want to be as free as possible from transport.
The result is a new relationship at work and a new management model based on trust and autonomy. Moreover, when properly implemented, telework tends to improve the competitiveness of organisations, their attractiveness on the labour market, their organisational agility, their productivity, while contributing to the reduction of fixed costs. To achieve this, employees must be able to carry out their tasks under optimal conditions. This requires both the provision of IT tools adapted to this constant juggling between on-site, roaming and remote work (laptops, hybrids, tablets, smartphones) and the availability of a quality network connection.
“The most important thing when working remotely, in a coworking space or elsewhere, is the network,” says a company manager who has been working for a few months in a third location in the ninth arrondissement of Paris.
1. When teleworking, you have to pamper your home network!
While wired Ethernet is still preferable, wifi ac dual band or, better still, wifi ax (which doubles the theoretical speed of wifi ac) also allows you to be productive and to quickly access all platforms and content hosted in the cloud.
But you still need to have the right router or repeater (to extend the signal range, if necessary) available.
Manufacturers such as D-Link, Netgear, Cisco, Linksys and TP-Link offer this type of router which, thanks to their antennas and Mimo (multiple input, multiple output) technology, is capable of operating on several frequency bands and thus providing optimal throughput, avoiding congestion.
Tip: Remember, however, that in order to enjoy maximum throughput, the wifi transmitter (box or router) and the terminal used must meet the same standard (wifi n, ac or ax).
2. Setting up a VPN, essential for working remotely
To connect remotely to the organization’s network anonymously and securely, some organizations require a VPN (virtual private network).
The VPN is especially recommended if you use a public wifi (in a train station, library, bar or hotel, for example), if you want to protect your data or if you want to connect with an IP address from another country.
Many free VPN solutions are available online (VPN.net, TunnelBear, CyberGhost, Hide.me, Windscribe, VPNBook, etc.), but remain limited either in download or speed. On the paid VPN side, Hide My Ass is one of the simplest. It encrypts the user’s data and ensures total anonymity online.
Unlike other VPN services, Hide My Ass works on all terminals (laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.). It is even possible to use it on two devices at the same time. Its price: from 3.99 euros per month (for a 2-year subscription) with possible subscriptions of just one month or six months.
3. A digital workplace and tools to manage projects and collaborate in the cloud
While teleworking very often allows for cost reduction (less office space, reduced transport costs, less absenteeism, etc.) and improved employee efficiency (better productivity, reduced delays), its implementation relies on the adoption of collaborative work platforms.
These tools are most often offered in cloud mode, and are therefore accessible from anywhere.
What tools are available to work and collaborate remotely?
Office 365 from Microsoft and G-Suite from Google are the best known and certainly the most used; however, many other solutions are available to work in teams and move forward on projects, even remotely.
Even Facebook has taken the plunge by launching Workplace by Facebook, a collaboration (videoconferencing, file sharing, group creation, storage, instant messaging) and community management solution that can be integrated with G-Suite, Okta (access and identity management), Windows Azure and others.
Tools such as Wrike, Klaxoon, Oolaop, Slack, AnyDesk, EverNote, Asana and Trello also allow for team project management. But there are even more comprehensive solutions such as Citrix Secure Digital Workplace, CEO-Vision’s GoFast, Jalios Digital Workplace, EXo’s collaboration platform and Konica Minolta’s Workplace Hub. It’s up to you to choose the one that suits your needs.
For remote meetings, Skype, Facetime, Hangouts, Live Messenger, Mikogo, WebEx Meetings, GoToMeeting or MeetingBooster are all solutions that make it easy to hold meetings for free and share your computer screen.
4. Ensure a good mobile connection
Because today telework is not only carried out at home, but can also be carried out in mobility, in transport or elsewhere, mobile network sharing devices are also part of the teleworker’s survival needs.
At the moment, there are few laptops with mobile connectivity. Asus, HP and Lenovo are the leading manufacturers in this niche and offer several premium models with integrated 4G and more than a day’s battery life.
While waiting for the first 5G offers planned for next year, a mobile subscription including 4G data (5 GB/month minimum) and a smartphone are enough to have a permanent network whose real speed (between 75 and 150 Mbit/s) is often higher than that of the ADSL box installed at home.
All you have to do is activate the appropriate connection sharing (wifi, Bluetooth or wired USB) in the smartphone’s general settings, then select the smartphone in the computer’s access points, enter the association password (it is provided in the smartphone’s settings) and you’re done.
Another solution: invest in a connection sharing box such as the Airbox 2 4G+ from Orange which allows wifi sharing of the 4G+ network (300 Mbps) and accepts up to 32 users at the same time, or the 4G/wifi mobile hotspots from Huawei, Netgear or TP-Link available for around a hundred euros.
5. Never run out of battery and memory.
Even when connected to the cloud, a mobile worker never travels without several accessories, including a backup battery like the X-Moove PowerGo Flash (69.90 euros). With a capacity of 15,000 mAh, the X-Moove PowerGo Flash can provide backup power for the latest Macbooks thanks to its two USB ports (USB 3.0 + USB Type-C) and can easily charge any smartphone thanks to its micro-USB port.
Another recommended accessory is a secure external hard drive or USB stick, such as the DataLocker Sentry 3 FIPS. This key offers 64 GB of storage with FIPS 140-2 level 3 certification and 256-bit AES encryption in XTS mode for maximum security. It combines hardware-based encryption with the ability to connect to a remote management console (SafeConsole) to deploy and enforce security policies across multiple USB storage devices.