The role of technology in business has just gotten bigger. In 2021, around 26.7% of the American workforce is expected to go fully remote. In line with the remote work trend, big companies like Ralph Lauren and CVS Health are choosing to trim office space by 30% to accommodate new ways of working and cut costs respectively.
With thousands of employees working from home, businesses continue to rely on different technologies, e.g., video conferencing and task management apps, to keep their operations going. Since technology is taking center stage in remote work, the field of Information Technology (IT) is also getting more attention. But what is IT in the first place and how important is it in the increasingly popular work-from-home (WFH) setup?
WHAT IS IT?
Many people think that your IT department or your “IT guy” is the one you run to when you have problems with your computer, company website, or other software. This is true but it doesn’t present the full picture. IT involves everything that requires the transmission of data and the systems that facilitate communication. In the simplest terms, it covers “everything that businesses use computers for”, according to Southern New Hampshire University.
WHO NEEDS IT?
A common misconception is that getting IT staff for your business is too expensive and hence, is only viable for big companies. However, any company that is interested in improving communications, efficiency, and expansion should hire IT, experts. Without IT specialists to ensure that computer and information systems are up and running, your business will stop running when the internet or phone services go down.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT IN REMOTE WORK?
IT has been integral to businesses even before the pandemic-induced remote work boom. But if your employees are doing remote work, then you are a company in need of a developer and IT support, perhaps more than others. Communication, data access, security, and growth are four specific areas where IT is crucial to remote work.
Communication and collaboration
Your IT experts can help you choose and maintain the right communications technology for your team. Investing in multiple communication channels is recommended for remote work. That’s because emails, chat, phone calls, and video conferencing all serve various purposes. Email is suitable for sending general announcements and reminders because it is formal and democratic. Chat provides a space for informal socialization, much like the “water cooler” talk that used to take place in the office. Phone calls, on the other hand, are good for relaying complex information with speed and accuracy. Finally, video conferencing imitates face-to-face interaction and enhances the sense of teamwork in meetings.
While it might not be possible or practical to let all your employees take home their company computers, remote access software allows them to get the data they need. Remote access includes several technologies including remote desktop services and Virtual Private Networking (VPN). Remote desktop services allow you to control a computer as if you were sitting in front of it. This enables employees to use applications installed on their office computers. Remote access is often made possible by Virtual Private Networking (VPN). VPN remote access provides a secure connection between two private networks. Other than VPN, remote access may also be enabled by installing third-party software on the computer you need access to and the computer you will access it from. IT teams are needed for setting up and securing remote access technologies.
Cyber attacks are on the rise as more companies and business transactions go online. One of the most significant tasks of an IT team is to make sure that communication channels and remote access tools are safe from intruders. Components of cyber security include network security, information security, disaster recovery, and end-user education. End-user education is vital because lack of security awareness is a huge risk factor. For instance, when accessing company resources through phones, users should be taught how to use multi-factor authentication.
Generally speaking, IT enhances employee productivity and makes numerous tasks more manageable and secure. Almost all business processes can be automated and streamlined by IT experts. Examples are managing business expenses, managing customer queries and orders, and creating databases to support operations. Harnessing the power of computers to boost your business will not only help you cut costs but will also rake in millions of dollars. As a case in point, when a business without sufficient IT support suffers a cyber-attack, they not only lose confidential information, they also lose revenue and customers’ trust. That is why business owners who understand the value of IT have a competitive advantage over others.
If you’ve decided to close down your physical office and migrate to a remote workplace, getting an expert IT team should be one of your top priorities. A good IT staff will help you improve communication and collaboration, remote access, cyber security, and your company’s overall growth.