“This is not how I envisioned the distributed work revolution taking hold,” writes Automattic co-founder Matt Mullenweg. “It has been a challenging time around the world—from how we live our daily lives to how we keep our kids safe in schools and our family members healthy in assisted living communities and hospitals…it’s not ideal on any level.”
That, I feel, is an understatement. The coronavirus has surged across the world, shutting down entire cities in the process. Businesses unfamiliar with distributed work were forced into supporting an entirely remote workforce.
Even now, as businesses start to reopen, many will have to support a far larger volume of distributed staff than would otherwise be possible. Even organizations with remote work policies in place likely struggled. Most infrastructure simply isn’t made to support such a massive volume of connection requests.
Particularly if you’re a smaller organization, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to support a largely-distributed workforce entirely on your own. Yet at the same time, it’s arguably infeasible to invest in new, permanent infrastructure. Even with an increase in telecommuting, you probably aren’t going to need a large volume of permanent, physical infrastructure.
Cloud computing provides a solution across the board.
For general collaboration, I’d recommend a cloud chat service such as Slack. Providing the capacity for secure file sharing, group chats, and department-specific updates, it integrates readily with other services, including project management software like Wrike or Trello. It’s an excellent foundation for keeping your teams connected on a day-to-day basis.
Teleconferencing, meanwhile, will require a tool like Zoom. Enabling seamless, remote video conferences, Zoom helps distributed teams schedule valuable face-time with one another. Not only is this important from a collaboration perspective, but it can also be critical in staving off the cabin fever that can often accompany prolonged isolation.
Finally, where corporate access is concerned, you have two options. First, you can augment your existing hardware through infrastructure-as-a-service. This will allow you to tap into whatever hardware resources you require without having to install anything permanent; once you no longer require the additional processing power, you can simply spin down your cloud infrastructure.
Alternatively, you might consider leveraging software-as-a-service, shifting from internal, corporate apps to cloud solutions. While this may require a bit of extra research and legwork on your part, it can be immensely beneficial in the long run, particularly if you’re considering supporting single-sign-on for employee convenience. As such, in some situations, it may be a better option.
It’s unlikely that fully-remote teams will ever become the new normal. At the same time, it’s highly likely that businesses – yours included – will need to adopt more comprehensive remote work policies. Your employees have gotten a taste of what it’s like to telecommute.
Many of them are going to want to continue doing so, even once the pandemic finally ends.