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How organisations can ensure that remote working is effective for all

OPINION
By Carol koech | May 2nd 2021

Carol Koech, Schneider Electric Country President

 

I don’t need to tell you that 2020 was all about digital; we adapted to the pandemic, to both keep our people safe as well as keep business and economies moving.

Electricity used to be the must-have resource, now it’s the internet and a lot of us are living online. We’re working online, often remotely, our children for most part of the year adapted to studying online and even our courts have been holding online sessions.

The question I must ask is this: Is our infrastructure able to cope? Are we managing our IT networks well enough to be able to do everything online, all at the same time? And are businesses able to support their employees, many of whom are working remotely and are relying on their own home networks.

Now more than ever, management of a remote IT infrastructure management is critical. Business networks and residential networks have historically been isolated from each other. Business networks didn’t have to deal with the applications that’d consume bandwidth at homes, such as video streaming and gaming.

Now, with far more workers staying put, the uploading and downloading of content will cause a tremendous amount of network congestion especially when you add video conferencing, online teaching and remote courses, conference calls, and more.

What can businesses do to improve network performance? Let’s start with looking at how we can secure working-from-home for all by looking at verification and security.

First, employees must have access to their work’s technology. Some applications will only have been available to users working onsite. Employees will need to be given VPN software, to allow them to use all the tools and software that they’d have access to at their office.

A second action point is the need to educate employees on how they can work remotely in a safe manner. We must help employees understand cyber risks and how they can ensure their own safety online.

The phrase I’d like to use is employees have become a “human firewall” who know best how to keep their computers and networks safe - of course with the help of technology experts.

Reliable energy

Let’s now talk about electricity. A secure, reliable energy source is essential to running your computer and ensuring connectivity. If there’s no power, there’s no network.

Businesses need to ensure that employees have solutions designed specifically for power back-up and protection for IT and electronics devices, so that work is not only protected if there’s an electrical interruption, but an employee does not suffer downtime as a result of having power failures.

Thought must also be given to remote working for data centres. We’re all dependent on what data centres do for us. Big companies such as banks and utilities may even have their own data centres that are used to host both information and applications. Smaller firms will use data centres to host their websites and emails.Over the past couple of months, there’s been an increased focus on tools that can help maintenance teams remotely monitor, manage and maintain data centres and equipment. Remote access tools use technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide organisations with the ability to predict when equipment will need to be serviced or replaced while optimising energy use.

This reduces downtime and provides real-time visibility across distributed environments.

Everything as we knew it changed in 2020, and there is no going back. What we’ve learned is that digital is the key to business continuity. A modernised, digital backbone and infrastructure is the basis for resilience.

But we must remember that people come before processes and technology. With so many employees working from home, the focus must be on ensuring that they have the tools to access their business data and applications, that they’re able to protect themselves from cyber threats, and that the power is always on.

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