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How to optimise remote working during COVID-19

By Joe Bombagi, Director Solutions Engineering, UK & Ireland at Riverbed Technology

As coronavirus becomes more widespread, and governments around the world introduce tactics to delay and minimise its impact, organisations everywhere must take measures to protect the well-being of employees. A key component to this is prioritising remote access and performance for the increasing number of employees working from home in line with government instructions.

Keeping employees safe should rightly be the priority. However, companies need to ensure that remote working network scenarios don’t stand in the way of business operations, productivity or employee engagement. Afterall, a drop in productivity due to increased traffic and unpredictable app performance can cost businesses significantly in everything from time to market, revenue, reputation, client and customer success and employee satisfaction.

To maintain business continuity and staff productivity during this time we at Riverbed advise companies take the following steps.

Put people first

People, and keeping them safe amid the uncertainty, should be the top priority for all businesses in the current climate. Companies need to adapt quickly; providing technology and guidance to keep the business running and employees working productively while at home.

Focus on the mobile and remote workforce

Modern and mobile workforces already span the globe and consume business applications everywhere, over always-changing network connections. Being able to inspire this universal change in working behaviour, in all employees quickly, and maintain the performance of applications is critical for staff to remain productive under changing business circumstances.

Now that the UK has been placed in lockdown, with only essential movement allowed, cultivating a strong flexible working mindset and strategy has become more important than ever. Developing this quickly will be key to businesses’ ability to successfully maintain ongoing operations.

Performance, in spite of network strain, is paramount

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen a significant increase in collaboration tools, such as webmail and video-conferencing applications, being used by the remote workforce. This is creating a tremendous strain on the network. In fact, Vodafone is already reporting a 30 percent increase in internet traffic across its UK fixed-line and mobile networks, and that “busy hours” which typically run from 18.00-20.00 now start from lunchtime and run into the evening. The strain will only increase now the decision has been taken to shut schools, meaning a shift will be required to online classes, and in light of the country-wide lockdown which will see remote working more strongly enforced. In Italy, lockdown drove a 75 percent rise in residential data traffic during the weekend, according to Telecom Italia. Ensuring performance against this backdrop is paramount to IT teams.

Businesses must introduce solutions that will boost the performance of desktops and laptops as they connect to corporate networks, the cloud or business-critical SaaS applications. For instance, adopting accelerators on users’ devices to improve the performance of SaaS applications. By embracing this technology, businesses can expect file downloads to improve by up to 100 percent, and the amount of data to be reduced by as much as 97 percent, decreasing file size and therefore latency for remote workers. Furthermore, as SaaS accelerators are quick to deploy, users can instantly benefit from improved performance and therefore greater employee productivity. This can make a significant difference to employee safety, experience, productivity and business continuity.

Visibility is vital 

Finally, introduce visibility tools that provide a comprehensive view of network and application performance across the business. Tools that can quickly diagnose and fix network issues should they arise during a surge in demand, and that can optimise experience and workforce productivity regardless of location.

Businesses and employees will endure in the coming days and weeks provided they prioritise employee wellbeing, focus on creating an effective remote working mindset and strategy, as well as embracing the technological foundation for achieving visibility and maximising performance. By doing so, they will ensure that people across the UK remain safe, happy, productive and that UK business won’t suffer, in the wake of this outbreak. In order to help with this and provide support for businesses, Riverbed are offering a free 90 day trial of their Riverbed Client Accelerator solution which optimises at-home network connections and delivers reliable performance.