As businesses across Indiana rally to remain productive, remote workers face increasing reliability, security and connectivity challenges as their work and personal lives continue to compete for bandwidth.  Regardless of what the next phase of your business operations looks like, these three technology trends can help your employees stay connected and secure in this “next normal.”

Provide business-class broadband accessibility or technology reimbursements to employees

Some remote employees may need two separate broadband accounts — a residential service provider for non-work activities like television streaming and business-class internet for their work activities. A business-class home office solution offers more. It comes with a higher level of back-end support and the ability to add business-class services like a static IP address and LTE back-up in case of a power outage or damaged wire line connection.

If remote work becomes more prevalent even after the crisis is over, businesses may take a new approach to at-home productivity with tactics like reimbursing employees wholly or partially for high-speed and/or business-class internet. This will require careful vetting on your part to ensure you are guiding employees toward optimal networks.

Enhance your company’s cybersecurity — inside the office and out

The costs of being hacked far outweigh the costs of preventive measures, which means even businesses without a large budget should dedicate resources to stringent cybersecurity technologies — including for remote employees who have left the security of the corporate office’s network.

There are two main ways your business can help protect its data, even with a remote workforce: education and software.

Education involves turning employees into another line of defense by informing them of existing cybersecurity threats and how to avoid them. If an employee in an office accidentally clicks on a phishing link, there are some protections but that’s not necessarily the case at home because most people don’t have a corporate firewall on their home network.

IT teams will have to train employees on how to detect threats, like phishing, and what to do if they think something is suspicious, as well as implement policies like strong password requirements, two-factor authentication and forced password changes several times a year.

The software component involves using the latest technology to secure the services and network that employees use. For example, many companies are turning to software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN) to manage their network over the internet. With SD-WAN, a company’s IT staff can sit anywhere in the world while monitoring traffic and adjusting network settings as needed from a secure portal.

Cloud-based collaboration tools must be a permanent tool

Cloud-based platforms like Office 365 (Teams and OneDrive), Slack, Zoom and Google Suite have been key to allowing employees to collaborate, share screens, video conference and work on documents no matter where they are in the world.

It’s entirely likely any technology that is not cloud-based may disappear permanently; this was already happening prior to the pandemic.

No organization will come out of this completely unchanged. The good news is that technology can help ensure employees — in the office and remote —stay productive and focused while upholding the security of business data.

Do your research, talk to trusted technology providers and rely on experts’ advice — and your small business will be ready to meet current and future challenges.

Jeff Marston is vice president of Comcast Business in Indiana as well as Michigan and Kentucky.?

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