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Empowering Flexible Remote Working with Technology

COVID-19 has driven the world’s biggest shift to remote working to date. And it’s time to acknowledge that moving forward, working from home will be one of the new norm. Many Singaporean employers were caught off guard when the official Circuit Breaker measures were first announced. There was little time for a gradual transition and companies had to somehow support a fully remote workforce within a few days.  

Supporting a fully remote workforce - on this scale - is new to many companies. So, what do some businesses have that others lack when it comes to implementing remote work arrangements? 

We’ve heard of many success stories like Google or Facebook, which recently announced that their employees will be allowed to work from home for the rest of the year. It seems simple for these companies to carry out such measures, but why? 

In the last month alone, NCS has empowered thousands of employees to transition from a mostly office-bound environment to a decentralised work from home environment. Here are some learnings and best practices in preparing for this new normal of working from home. 

3 THINGS COMPANIES NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN WORKING FROM HOME 

The key considerations for enabling work-from-home (WFH) for your business revolves around the capacity of the business for a distributed work operations. A useful way to look at this is to ask:

  1. Processes: Are your key business processes already digitised, or how can they be digitised rapidly? 
  1. People and Tools: Have you already adopted collaboration and communication tools for a digital workplace, or do you need to rapidly deploy and train your teams with these tools? 
  1. Security: Do you have a cybersecurity plan to mitigate against the risks that arise from a rapidly digitised and decentralised working environment?

The extent to which you can adopt a WFH model depends on how far you can advance in each of these areas. If your processes are still heavily paper dependent, then it could be beneficial to quickly see how you can digitise them at the edge and at the core. An organisation running on digitalised processes is inherently better able to function in a WFH model. Similarly, if your workforce is already conversant with collaboration tools, they will be better equipped to WFH. And underpinning all this, is to have a robust cybersecurity plan to manage the risks that arise in a WFH landscape.

NCS’ EXPERIENCE

As an organisation, we had the benefit of a highly digital-savvy team who is familiar with working remotely. We also had the benefit of having many of our operations already digitalised. Hence our primary challenge in rapidly enabling a full WFH environment was infrastructural in nature. The challenge of rapidly scaling up our networks and VPNs to enable WFH for our sizable workforce of more than 9,000 employees.

Being the leading ICT service provider in Singapore and supporting essential service providers in the public sector, this was a critical challenge we had to step up to, in order to ensure business continuity for ourselves and our clients. 

Our team of infrastructure engineers and technical management talents rallied to the cause, and we rapidly scaled up our connectivity infrastructure:

1. Our VPN capabilities were boosted 

  • We improved our existing VPN capabilities to allow the increasing number of staff members working from home to connect back to our core systems and business environments. In a short span of time, we boosted both the number of VPN links and the bandwidth several times over.  

2. We reshaped our internal networks 

  • Recognising that network traffic patterns would be different in a WFH scenario, we also implemented a program of work to reshape the internal structure of our networks, increasing capacity at key links. Having a deep understanding of network traffic patterns, and design options, was key to this.
  • In layman terms, we didn’t simply adopt a brute force approach and rely purely on increasing capacity and various links. We also implemented various Quality of Service, shaping to optimise the network utilisation under the new traffic patterns we anticipated, and saw in practice. 

Our current approach has proven successful in enabling thousands of NCS employees with the resources and ability to work from home effectively and safely. To find out how you can implement remote working for your organisation, get in touch with us.

 

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