Working Remotely Through the Internet

Working Remotely

Working remotely through the internet may include having to access a web-based application, updating or creating client websites, or simply interacting with your co-workers through web-based productivity suites or other applications. Many of us who are used to working in an office space may not be familiar with working away from the desktops that are anchored on an office desk. 

What should you consider when working remotely? And are there any suggested solutions to go along with this list? 

We will list a few concerns about working remotely and then suggest some solutions to go along with them.  This won’t be a comprehensive list, but at the very least it will include fundamental considerations for working remotely from the comfort of your home.

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Working with Secure Data

Three common concerns when working remotely include:

  • Securely Connecting to your Business Network
  • Wireless versus Wired Connections
  • Securely Saving Data

If you’re not familiar with these fundamental security concerns, then consider consulting with an IT professional on how to keep your data safe.

Secure Remote Connections

Chart of How a VPN Works
How a Virtual Private Network (VPN) works

The first consideration for anyone connecting to a business network is security. Many businesses will either have an IT department in-house or hire one to consult for their needs.  A VPN (Virtual Private Network) should be among your first considerations.  Your company may have a VPN already set up for use, but there are many cheap solutions available on the market.  A VPN lets you communicate securely to your company server from a remote location.

Wireless Connections vs. Wired Connections

If you must connect remotely and you have access to a wired network, then use the wired network.  Wired connections are more secure than wireless.  If you are trying to keep data and network connections secure, do not connect to your networks using an open, unsecured wireless network connection.  At the very least, make sure you are using a VPN connection to your network if you have no choice but to connect.  While security has improved for wireless network connections, it is still not as good as physically connecting using a wired network to your computer.

Saving Data

If you must save data, then consider where you are saving it to.  If you are saving it on your computer and it is considered “sensitive data” that should be kept secure, then make sure that you are saving it into a secure drive.  Many external hard drive solutions offer security options that allow you to save the data in an encrypted format. The recommended solution to remotely saving secure data is to save it to a secure remote location using your VPN-connected system. Data saved remotely in a secure system will often have the benefit of network security plus backup options in the event of a failure or catastrophe. If you must save locally into an unprotected source, then make sure to make a backup or plan to move it to a secure location at your earliest convenience. If you’re working on a website, then you’re normally connecting to a server that is secured by the web hosting company.  You should be connecting securely to the network in order to keep your development work safe.

Maintaining Communications

With the advent of the smartphone, remote texting has replaced the majority of what used to be either phone calls or email communications. The workplace incorporated text communications and it is now a major part of the office network. Chat applications now work through the internet and can even be loaded to a smartphone. Additionally, with the need for remote face-to-face meetings, video conferencing has become a necessity.

Chat Applications

If you’re not using a phone or physically speaking with your co-workers, then you’re probably using or have access to some type of chat application like Slack. Email is fine for a lot of work, but if you need immediate conversational responses, then using a chat program will be a must.  Here is a brief list of office chat software:

If you must share data across applications like Slack, remember that you can’t really see the other person you’re chatting with.  A basic rule of thumb is to not directly share a sensitive file across your chat application. Share it through secure locations like Google Drive, Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive where your company has approved and shared secure access.

Video Conferencing

Maintaining communications is critical when working remotely.  Since many face-to-face meetings may not always be possible then there needs to be some type of video conferencing available. Fortunately, there are many solutions. We will list a few below:

These solutions may require that you work with your IT department to determine the solution that best meets your needs. They all offer a free or trial version of the application. Two main factors for selecting a solution may be the number of people you need to connect with at any one time and the quality of the video connection.

Online Productivity Suites

As a volunteer for my municipal government, I’ve quite often run into the issue of sharing documents through email. Mainly, we have found that many city employees use their office productivity applications without considering who will need to access and edit these documents. For example, Microsoft Word documents or Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are often shared, but not everyone has Microsoft Office loaded on their personal computers. This same dilemma can affect businesses that do not have established application standards for shared work.

Fortunately, there are many solutions to this issue. Microsoft provides free access to their Office documents through their free online access, albeit with limited functionality. Google’s productivity applications can convert and read Microsoft’s documents. There are others well, though Google and Microsoft are the most commonly used solutions. Both Google and Microsoft have paid solutions. Selecting one or the other will depend on your business needs. Google’s paid solution is called Workspace. Microsoft’s Office solution can also be used online, or you can purchase a subscription for business or personal use.

You’re now familiar with several of the typical concerns of working remotely through the internet. You will mainly want to work securely and be able to access and share your productivity and communications with your co-workers, no matter their location. To learn more about working with InMotion’s Hosting solutions, check out our Business Shared Hosting Product Guide.

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