An Emergency Work-at-Home Toolkit for Business
Twitter just told all of its employees to work at home 100% of the time because of the coronavirus and you may be next when it comes knocking on your office door. It is a scenario all companies should be thinking about at this time and get ready for. Fortunately, off-the-shelf solutions that enable quick, secure and effective implementation of collaboration, communication and business continuity are readily available. Here’s an annotated checklist of key tools to look for that you can quickly roll out to your workforce and help your business come through this period unscathed.
Unified Communications & Collaboration
- Video calling. There’s not going to be time for a measured culture shift to a newly remote, distributed workplace. Adding familiar faces to conversations will help lessen the dislocation and keep people connected.
- Instant Messaging & Presence (IM&P): When you can’t walk down the hall, these tools make it easy for users to see whether a colleague is available for a chat, then instantly send a message.
- Collaboration services: Virtual, always-on meeting room space for ad-hoc or planned meetings so your teams can easily share information and collaborate using any combination of group chat, voice and video conferencing, desktop and application sharing, and file sending.
- Unified messaging: Remote users need access to emails, voicemails, and texts in the format that works best for them, depending on where they are and what they’re doing. Unified mailbox, notifications, and user-defined call routing increase user productivity.
Security & Continuity
While communication and collaboration are essential for remote workplace, so is security and business continuity. It is critical to have the right technology in place that supports the remote staff’s productivity and connectedness, while keeping the company secure. The last thing you need is to adopt a patchwork of complicated applications and systems that tax your IT department and create new risks. Look for solutions that include these elements:
- Comprehensive firewall management: You want your newly remote employees to be safe within the corporate network via secure VPN access that gives them access to critical applications and helps them remain productive. Firewalls can ensure internet traffic from remote workstations gets the same protection as if physically in the office, given they are up-to-date and properly configured and managed.
- Secure endpoints: The laptops now sitting on home office desks can become vulnerable points of entry for cybercriminals, so securing them properly is critical. You’ll want to make sure that they can easily receive security patches, Next Generation AV, secure remote control and troubleshooting support.
- Failover when the cable hiccups: For mission critical positions you want to ensure that there’s not a single point of failure looming. If the home broadband connection goes down and you’re streaming TV, it’s an annoyance. For a business with employees providing essential services, it’s a disaster. There are solutions like managed SD-WAN that will automatically switch to a 4G LTE connection that will keep your folks working for as long as needed.
- Reliable support: It’s always important to be able to call for help when you’re implementing a new system or tool, but that becomes a matter of business life or death when you’re in the middle of crisis management and making changes on a timetable measured in hours instead of months. Consider simplifying your crisis workload by working with a managed services provider that can coordinate all the moving parts during this time so you can concentrate on your business – and sleep a bit more comfortably.
Upwork’s “Future Workforce Report” predicts that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028. Working remotely is slowly becoming “the new normal” and all companies should get ready for the work-from-home scenario.
If you need a hand, contact us or call: 855-924-1393 to see how we can help.
Here are some additional resources you can use:
Home Office Solutions
Infographic: Tips on Deploying a Remote Workforce
White Paper: The New Workplace Reality
About the Author
Lucie Hys is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at TPx. She is currently leading the marketing efforts for the company’s MSx suite of managed services. She has been working in marketing for more than 9 years, with the last four focusing on the cybersecurity industry. Lucie graduated with an MBA from Florida Gulf Coast University. In her spare time, she is an avid fitness enthusiast and a passionate traveler.
If you are still using an on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server deployment, you are not alone. According to a 2018 study, 61% of Exchange mailboxes deployed worldwide are still on-premises while 39% are Cloud Exchange mailboxes. The growth of Cloud Exchange mailboxes is exploding, so it’s a good time for any organization to evaluate how a cloud email deployment can help – regardless of what version of Exchange you are currently using on premises.
What is happening?
If you are one of the thousands of organizations still running Exchange Server 2010, this is even more important. Why? Because on January 14, 2020, Exchange Server 2010 will reach end of support. Exchange Server 2010, like most Microsoft products, had a defined lifecycle of 10 years. During that time, Microsoft maintained the product by making bug fixes, patches, and security updates. Applying these fixes on a regular and consistent basis kept your Exchange Server 2010 environment healthy, performing optimally, and, most importantly, secure.
Why is it important to my organization?
When these fixes are no longer available after January 14, 2020, your Exchange Server 2010 deployment will become vulnerable to any new exploit created by hackers. While a vulnerability like this is not unique to Microsoft or to Exchange Server 2010 (remember the 2016 exploit of Apple’s QuickTime for Windows?), it is an especially critical threat because email remains one of the most vulnerable parts of any IT infrastructure. In fact, 92% of all malware is introduced into organizations through email1.
What should I do about it?
Now is the time to act. Organizations need to start planning to migrate from Exchange Server 2010 to a current version of Exchange. For most organizations, this means a migration to Exchange Online – Microsoft’s hosted email for businesses (which is also included in most Microsoft Office 365 plans). According to a 2018 Bitglass study, over 56% of organizations have deployed Office 365 already.
Here are some of the reasons to consider Exchange Online:
- Automatic Updates and Maintenance: Microsoft is constantly enhancing Exchange Online. New features become available automatically, and similarly, the platform is automatically patched and maintained by Microsoft. You can be sure that all of the secure infrastructure management is being done, your business can always take advantage of the latest features, and you will never need to worry about the “End of Life” of your Exchange environment again!
- Anytime/Anywhere Access: Because it’s cloud-based, users can access Exchange Online from any Internet-connected device. Robust security management features help you control and secure this access so you can enhance employee productivity while maintaining appropriate security.
- Large Mailbox Sizes: Every few years, Microsoft increases the mailbox size for Exchange Online. Today, Exchange Online offers either a 50GB or 100GB mailbox size. This capacity is significant enough that the majority of employees no longer need to worry about managing their mailbox size. (I personally have about 60,000 emails and attachments in my mailbox, and it’s only 10GB!)
- Enhanced Security: Every Exchange Online version comes with Exchange Online Protection – Microsoft’s built-in anti-spam and anti-malware protection. In addition, organizations can further enhance security using Microsoft Advanced Threat Protection (ATP). ATP provides an additional layer of protection with advanced filtering and sandboxing capabilities. So, there’s no need to buy, implement, and manage third-party solutions for security.
- In-Place Archive: Exchange Online Archiving provides advanced archiving capabilities. It also allows users to easily and automatically move emails to an archive folder, which is accessed right from within their Outlook profile. This keeps their primary mailbox small and fast, while allowing easy access to all email.
- Compliance: Exchange Online meets major compliance standards such as HIPAA/HITECH, SOC 1 & 2, and ISO 27001. Compliance is not configured out-of-the-box, though, so make sure you have a skilled compliance admin to help you. More information on compliance can be found here.
- Data Loss Prevention (DLP): With DLP, available in Exchange Online Plan 2, you can help keep sensitive information from leaving your organization. Whether it’s a Social Security Number, a credit card number, or other confidential information, you can easily set policies to block it. DLP enables you to flexibly engage with users to maintain the right mix of security and productivity for your organization.
There are many other great features and benefits of Exchange Online and Office 365, too many to describe here in this short post. If you have not done so already, make sure your management and IT team are evaluating these great solutions.
What if I need help?
We get it, you have been running the same version of Microsoft Exchange Server for many years. Your team’s expertise is not planning for and executing email migrations, and you really only get one chance to do it right. IT can be pretty scary. That’s where you can leverage the expertise of an experienced Managed Service Provider (MSP) like TPx. Leveraging the know-how of a Microsoft-certified organization that has done hundreds of migrations can help ensure that it happens cost-efficiently and effectively with minimal disruption to your business. In addition, an experienced Managed Service Provider can professionally manage technical support, system administration, and platform configuration management, freeing up your internal IT team to address other important tasks. (By the way, Exchange Online is part of all the Office 365 versions TPx sells. You can also get it as a standalone product, in case you don’t have a need for the rest of Office 365.)
Burying your head in the sand is not the right approach. Not properly planning for your migration from Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 could have serious implications to your organization. Security breaches cost small businesses billions of dollars each year; even worse, they often result in companies closing their doors for good. Reach out to a trusted advisor like TPx to help you navigate through the process and keep your Exchange environment secure.
About the Author
Joe Royer is the Product Manager for IT/Cloud services at TPx. He has 25 years of industry experience in sales, consulting, and product management for several leading MSPs.
- Source: 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report