Home workers are not all the same…
Working from home used to be considered a privilege or even a benefit for workers, but as the recent Covid pandemic has shown us, sometimes organisations need everyone to work remotely as a matter of business continuity. It is in times of crises, created by a pandemic, technology outage or even a natural disaster that sometimes the only way to conduct business means everyone has to be working remotely.
It is likely that the Covid pandemic has got you looking into your business continuity plans and whilst doing so, we would urge you to consider the needs of your different groups of workers. All too often all users are put into the same category, but we at FluidOne have seen great benefits for users and businesses if they are broken down into specific categories based on the work that they do. The main categories are the Knowledge Worker, the Always Connected Worker and the High Security Worker.
Users from the same department can fall into different groups, often based on seniority, the applications they use, the data they use and the specific tasks that they perform. Regardless of which category a user falls into, the limiting factor to productivity is often the speed or stability of their internet connection. At the heart of supporting all user types securely in your environment is connecting to a Next Generation UTM (unified threat management) Firewall in the core network. Within this device you must have a VPN Concentrator, at FluidOne we us Fortinet in the core and the concentrator is standard as a part of the FortiOS Operating system.
The most common user scenario is what we call the Knowledge Worker. This will apply to most people within your company. Typically, these users need access to email, data and applications in order work effectively whilst working from home. Often, these users are working offline on documents and as such they are not always accessing the internet. These users can connect via a home internet connection, but this means that corporate data must travel across unsafe networks. This type of worker needs a VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel across the internet in order to create a secure connection to the firewall back at the office. To make sure that all of these connections are coming in from legitimate employees, we recommend that companies use a two-factor authentication to add additional security beyond the standard Username and Password, as those can easily be stolen or hacked.
The Always Connected Worker, however, will need constant connectivity and will probably be working on multiple devices. The availability of online apps is crucial to this worker, this would include roles in IT, those using voice and video all day such as contact centre workers, those in telemarketing, VDI users, anyone that can't work offline for any period of time. This user is likely to have elevated responsibilities and might want a dedicated connection, or a managed wireless access point deployed to their home. It is possible to configure wireless access points to get all of the security policies that the office provides. The wireless networks can even be configured to be the same as in the office, making it simple and secure to connect all corporate devices, just like in the office.
The High Security Worker would be an employee with access to the most sensitive company information, or customer information such as credit card data or regulated market information. For this user, you might want to consider deploying a small UTM firewall in their home, or providing a dedicated secure connection linked directly into the corporate network. This effectively creates a small branch office for this user, giving them all the access they would expect while in the office. All equipment can be deployed with our zero-touch provisioning, meaning that the equipment is mailed to the user to plug in and then all their configurations are pushed to them.
As organisations look to support more home working in the future it’s important to consider that home internet connections are being used by more devices, and for more services throughout the day. Add to this the fact that the contention rations of consumer products means that services suffer higher levels of degradation at peak times, the ability to guarantee performance has never been more important or more difficult.
Having resilient connectivity in the office is common practice, however it hasn’t really been considered for most home workers. At FluidOne we are able to offer a number of different solutions to provide robust and secure connectivity for home users, all as part of your corporate contract and in most cases securely delivered back into the corporate network rather than transmitting data traffic across the public internet. The options include:
A mobile data package on roaming SIM to give the best coverage options, providing access to the internet through WiFi or USB connection. This option is:
- Totally portable and can be provisioned and working within a couple of days
- Not tied to a specific location so can be moved from one member of staff to another or support remote working from multiple locations, based on requirements
- Capable, if required, of being configured to only access the corporate network giving an increased level of security and ensuring that the data does not get misused for non-work purposes.
A second DSL or FTTC connection straight to the home, contracted to the organisation rather than the member of staff. This option is:
- Able to benefit from business class SLAs rather than the standard consumer offering and suffer less contention, therefore improving performance
- Presented on a managed router that gives greater levels of application control and monitoring
- Able to ensure that other users in the home do not impact work by using high bandwidth applications such as Netflix, allowing the home internet connection to be used just for the home.
A dedicated connection that connects directly into the corporate network, making the home an extension of the WAN.
- FluidOne provide customers with a PWAN (private wide area network) which is also known and an MPLS network, different locations / offices communicate securely without traffic touching the public internet – for Super Users or even Power Users this can be an option for their home.
For more information about FluidOne’s remote working solutions please contact us and arrange a call with one of our experts
About the author
Russell Horton, CEO at FluidOne
Russell joined FluidOne in April 2018 to lead the next stage of growth and development. Russell has over 20 years’ experience in telecoms and IT, leading award-winning businesses that had strong customer service, market leading systems and platforms; growing them organically and through acquisitions, expanding their capabilities and offering a wider range of services and expertise to customers. In turn, simplifying supply, improving quality and ROI. His vision for FluidOne continues to permeate throughout the business, driving it forward, enhancing capabilities; and championing customer success and innovation.
Russell is married with 4 children, has a blackbelt in Karate and is a long-time supporter of the England Rugby team. At weekends he likes to spend time with his family playing football, doing indoor climbing and karate.