How ready is your IT for remote working? Here are four considerations

Transitioning IT systems to a distributed workforce overnight is... not easy. KPMG highlights four areas of focus
7 April 2020

The good, the bad and the challenges of working from home. Source: AFP

Flexible working arrangements have become increasingly in vogue in the last several years, but in the last few weeks, they’ve practically become compulsory.

In the US, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report indicated that about half (43 percent) of employees work remotely for a portion of the time, but distributing an entire business’s operations and IT systems is quite something else entirely. 

As CIOs and IT leaders across the world are faced not just with this current reality, but also with the possibility that the current pandemic may catalyze many businesses to adopt remote working wholesale, KPMG’s Principal, Global Leader of CIO Center of Excellence, Steve Bates, shared four considerations for businesses still making the leap.

# 1 | Network infrastructure

Starting with the backbone of operations, an infrastructure that can support and ensure business continuity through its systems is the foundation to building a remote workforce.

Some companies may find their VPNs and enterprise servers pushed to the limits as it was not designed to host a large number of employees at a single time. “Keep in mind that most bandwidth requirements in the office are modeled on outbound traffic but implementing in remote work flips that model, requiring increased network capacity to handle inbound traffic.

At the same time, employees home internet connections may also be stretched, hampering productivity.

“Be prepared by working with your procurement group to ensure employees are authorized to purchase the necessary equipment, such as higher speed 4G routers, WiFi signal boosters or higher speed plans.”

# 2 | Granting access

Allocating access policies is crucial to creating a secure and productive remote working setup.

“Using a persona-based approach tied to critical business functions will enable those that you have prioritized to be their most productive with the appropriate levels of access. Some people in your continuity plan will need to be treated as mission critical, creating concierge groups for faster service with greater impact on business productivity,” said Bates.

“Remember to keep in mind key suppliers, contractors and third parties.”

However, access allocations may be intertwined with security and regulations of organizations, their clients, and state laws. Regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and contractual obligations may prohibit certain levels of remote access.

# 3 | IT and management support

With a distributed workforce, support for IT and management will fundamentally bind and bolster business continuity as a whole.

Help desk capacity will surely increase and companies may plan to set up self-service help desks to manage the influx of inquiries and requests from both employees and customers.

For organizations with outsourced support, a continuity plan with providers is crucial to maintain minimal disruption to call centers and help desks while acclimating to the current work situation. If outsourcing support, ensure your supplier has the capacity to handle demand in the current circumstances. 

# 4 | The right tools

Lastly, while employees are no strangers to emails, IM, webinars and video conferencing tools, the shift to working from home could require employees to leverage and engage with familiar and new tools differently.

The key is to have a standardized, secure, and simple use of the tools collectively. To this end, preparation including training can help and ensure employees are able to navigate and utilize the tools appropriately to complete tasks. 

Some platforms such as Honey help companies weave a seamless and cooperative system that pulls together the disparate workflows from separate offices, with emphasis on visual language and a friendly user interface.