In the recent months, the amount of companies allowing employees to work from home has been on the rise. Not only is working from home allowing employees to remain safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is allowing companies to see a spike in productivity. Many companies are also enjoying the lower overhead cost from not having so many employees inside of physical buildings.
Many IT professionals and C-Suite members would like to keep their employees working from home. There have been many popular SaaS platforms rising in popularity due to the recent boom in individuals working from home. In this article, we will discuss some of these platforms, and discuss some options that you have to build your own remote office.
There are many companies that provide a solid service in allowing users to access their office remotely. While you may find some of these providers have great deals, you will quickly learn that you get what you pay for. Security is of the utmost concern, especially if your company has sensitive data about employees and customers in the network. Hackers can and will leverage any vulnerability in your setup, and for this reason, we only recommend using a large provider with a solid reputation, such as LogMeIn.
We have used LogMeIn with great success for several years. The ease of use is great, and there are many tools that can come in handy for network administrators. Setting up a user to work remotely is as easy as downloading a simple installer package, and making credentials for the user that needs to access the particular computer. LogMeIn also takes great steps to ensure the security of their customers, and we have had no issues that we can recall in regards to data breaches etc.
Building Your Own Remote Access
If you have used RDP, you are no stranger to setting up remote access yourself. On the most basic level, you can open an external IP address on your router, and forward a port directly to the computer that you wish to use. We do not recommend doing this, as you are putting a target on the back of your company’s sensitive data.
At the very minimum, you will need a basic firewall set up. For ease of use, and as a good entry point, we recommend SonicWall products. They are easy to use, and if you aren’t familiar with SSH and setting up IP tables via command line, you will be in luck. SonicWall devices have a relatively easy to use graphical user interface that can be learned in the course of an afternoon. There are also many online guides and videos that can teach you how to get up and running relatively quickly.
If you are an experienced network administrator, we personally like Cisco products. The learning curve for these devices is far greater than with a SonicWall, but they are also much more powerful. The possibilities are endless, and oftentimes they come with more SSL VPN licenses if you have a large user base.
Bring Your Own Device
The most simple way to allow a user to work from home is allowing them to use their own device. Depending on the complexity of your network, you may not to implement many changes at all. If your company relies on third party cloud software providers, you have a much easier implementation. If you wish to allow users to access your internal network, you will still need some firewall configurations.
The easiest scenario would be to allow users to gain access to file servers and internal systems via a VPN. This can be set up relatively easily on the SonicWall GUI. The only words of caution are that SSL VPN licenses can be pricey through SonicWall. If your company uses Macs, you will have to do a little more configuration work as well, as the VPN client is slightly different than a Windows machine.
While allowing your employees to use their own device may be the most popular choice for many users, keep in mind that some of your employees may not have personal PCs or laptops. Depending on the state you live in, there may also be laws in place in regards to the privacy that afford your employees when using their own device. Please make sure to do all relevant research.
With the rise of popularity in working from home, there are many companies that are seeking a long term solution. There are many providers out there, and with the proper knowledge, you can be your own provider. We are huge fans of working from home, and hope that this trend will only continue to grow over the coming months and years.