5 Ways to Help Remote Workers Be More Effective

As we continue to dissect the trends in remote work, we reflect on how to optimize this new work/life style for our users. Prior to the pandemic, less than 20% of U.S. employees reported working from home 5 days or more per week. Fast forward to us closing in on the 3rd anniversary of pandemic-life and Statista is reporting that roughly 60% of the U.S. workforce is now working remote. As we’ve learned that work is what you do, not where you are– we’ve compiled 5 simple practices to help your users stay effective and protected wherever they may be.

1. Keep IT Easy Peasy

Make it easy for your users to get to the resources they require to be productive WITHOUT asking them a million times to log in and/or authenticate – nothing is more disruptive than being asked for credentials every time you need to access an app or file.

    • Implement MFA – this stands for Multi Factor Authentication – like an authenticator app
      • This will make easier for the user to access the resources needed and enrollment can be self service.
    • SSO across domain(s) – Single Sign-On – One and done
      • If you are not using single sign-on, then the users may be forced to log in often or re-authenticate if disconnected. This can create frustration and slow down business. Nobody wants that.
    • Apply some best practices for remote authentication include:
      • Zero Trust Security model
        • The Zero Trust model gives the maximum flexibility to your users while keeping the business secure. Here is a link to learn more about
      • Password-less Authentication
        • If you have a newer phone then you are probably familiar with face ID or fingerprint access. These biometric “keys” allow the end user to authenticate without the need to type in a password each time. Super easy and very efficient. This will make you very popular around the office.
    • Note these things to stay away from:
      • Dingle dangles: hopefully nobody in your company is using an RSA code generator or USB hasp to access company resources. Even worse, the need to type in complex passwords between VPN sessions or applications. Just don’t. The people will revolt.
      • The highest rating amongst the masses goes to Password-less authentication. It is the easiest for the end user and provides almost immediate access while remaining secure. If you have not considered this, please do. It will make life better… trust me.

2. “Hurry! Click Here To Update Your Payment Details.” …Wait a minute, that sounds phishy.

  • Make sure to help out your users by implementing email and spam filtering.

A real time killer is sorting through those phishing emails that can cause even bigger interruptions if actually clicked. Do your users (and yourself) a favor by helping them deal with this onslaught of dubious communications.

    • Spam/Malware filtering for email
      • There are several ways this can be accomplished. You may want to evaluate the source of the email and compare it to the “Naughty or Nice” list. Then slap a big old warning banner on the email before delivering it to the end user. This is often referred to as tagging. This is a very effective way to warn people of the impending doom that befalls them should that mouse finger get a little itchy.
      • In the past, the security part of email evaluation was done outside of the email server. This relied on a special built/purpose appliance to do all the security “stuff” and left the post office clueless. These days, as with Microsoft Exchange, the intelligence is baked into the product. No need to engage a 3rd party product just for filtering and tagging.
    • Malware Protection- Preventative measures for the inevitable event that someone does get “click happy”.
          • What is an immutable backup and why do I need one? Immutable- meaning “not subject or susceptible to change.” Simply put, when all the company files and data get encrypted by a malware infection (from Ludvik “the terrible”), you have a way to get it all back. The backup can’t change and therefore is immune from being forcibly encrypted.
        • Many products exist in the market that can provide immutable backup. We offer several solutions that help protect your users and data. Earn hero status and ask us to learn more!

3. Adventures in Babysitting…Devices

When helping users, you must also consider how to keep track of all those devices. This includes personal and company owned or provided assets (like phones and tablets).

  • Mobile device management (MDM) is a tool or set of tools that keep you sane while allowing the workforce to roam free and get the job done. These tools will allow you to track how many devices are accessing company resources while restricting what can be done within primary applications, including limiting data.
  • Microsoft has a mobile device management platform that integrates well with all devices called Intune. There are certainly other platforms available that do similar things however, I like the way Intune integrates into my overall security platform since most users are Windows and Office 365 based.

4. Ground Control to Major Tom?!

Creating ways for users to communicate can be an interesting experience. We all need a few key mechanisms to get things done and communicate effectively:

    • Instant Messaging
      • I’m not talking about DMing on social media here. Business users need a spam free environment that allows them to focus on business communications within the organization. In addition, these communications might need to extend, in limited fashion, outside of the organization. Customers, vendors, suppliers and even remote subsidiaries can benefit from the ability to have quick conversations without waiting on email chains.
    • Meetings
      • Who doesn’t love a good meeting? Getting together for product presentations, discussing client needs or having internal strategy calls is all part of running our money machines.
      • When choosing a meeting platform there are a few things to consider:
        • Is there a mobile app?
          • Mobile devices have become pretty sophisticated and often tablets and phones can provide an impressive experience for getting together. Make sure there is an app for whatever the users are communicating on.
        • Can the user switch seamlessly between sessions on multiple devices?
          • We have all been there. The meeting is running long but we have an obligation to be somewhere (like picking up the kids at school). Make life easier for your users by choosing a platform that allows them to pop in an ear bud and head out on the highway, all while still in the meeting.
        • Can I actually “call” someone?
          • Many platforms are somewhat limited in functionality. They seem to either do meetings well, Instant Message (IM) well, or calls well, but not all three. That forces the tech jockeys to choose whatever seems most important, often leaving the users dissatisfied and wanting something a new product.
      • What’s my pick for communications?
        • Take a look at Microsoft Teams. Over the past couple of years, Teams has really bolstered the functionality of not only messaging and meetings, but also Teams Voice by adding PBX and PSTN carrier services. The other big plus? Teams can allow for federated communications with outside vendors so messaging can traverse in/out of the organization, all while being controlled and secure. I like that, the security team will like that, and so will your users.

5. Oil and Water Vs. Mac and Cheese!

Make sure the technology you implement works well together. Nothing can frustrate users more than a set of third-party apps and resources that work as well together as snowmobiles and summer.

  • Third-party integrations are often the source of misaligned functionality. Some features might even be replicated from product to product while others simply are too complex to configure and keep running.
  • Product updates can break integrations between apps and leave users stranded and feeling frustrated.

    Here are some ideas to help keep you on the Christmas cookie list for your users:
    • Look at the minimum set of features required for your business requirements.
      • It might have all the bells and whistles… but if you don’t need them, they’re just noise. Keep focused on what is important.
      • Evaluate the company tenure. Is this a new company? If so, do I really want to waste time on a company or a solution that could be gone tomorrow, or acquired by the other competitor? Besides, if it is new, that could mean TONS of updates and lots of chances for it to break….yay!…NOT
    • Better Together. The benefit of having a broad array of products with the same core components is that they are well integrated. Microsoft has increased spend to ensure the business suite, security (like Defender) and Azure cloud work together seamlessly. It is much easier to work with integrations that are under the umbrella of a pedigree brand than created through various program hooks. This helps to keep everything in working order and breaking less!
Keith Singleton

Keith Singleton

Security Solutions Advisor - eGroup | Enabling Technologies

Last updated on August 15th, 2023 at 05:53 pm