This year one of our non-profit clients decided to close their office and work only using a virtual office in the cloud.
The first part of our work was technically complicated, but socially fairly easy. They had to move from using a server and getting to it remotely from PC’s and MAC’s to using Microsoft cloud services. That included getting off of ad hoc use of Google Mail and Google Docs along with a few individual work-arounds using DropBox, iCloud and OneDrive in the consumer versions that are not made for working as a group or virtual office.
We moved the various parts all into Office 365, including mail, and moved the documents into a company implementation of SharePoint. There were some limits as to how well it works on MAC’s and that had to be taken into account.
The tech might not agree, but that was in some ways the easy part.
When done and with their former office closed, and with their former server on our bench the lifestyles of the employees did a shift. Not only did they not have an office to go to, they no longer had any reason to stay in the same area. They moved around the state, around the country and even overseas.
Within a few months we had a company spread around different time zones and had lost any chance to have their laptop computers in our hands for service or just plain user assistance. We also had an on line backup on each machine to configure and manage.
So now we needed remote access going the other way. We had a method to get to their equipment, one piece at a time, on an as needed basis, but now we had to have something more systematic.
This non-profit handles some high end, sensitive data that for a couple of confidential reasons would be a target for hacking. Their laptops also have data on them that they could not afford to lose.
What we chose to do was to get them their own multi user account with the same remote access software we had been using, and then for security reasons, take any and all other remote access off of every one of those laptops. Now there was one portal and one control screen for our techs and their own staff to use.
When a user needed individual assistance, all they needed to do was get on line and let us know when we could log on. Then we could either work on their laptops by ourselves or get them on the phone and look at things together.
Centralized remote access to their equipment became a big part of what made their virtual office efficient and reliable allowing them to do their work wherever they wished.