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3 Remote Office Productivity Ideas With Maximum Gain, Minimal Risks

By Jason Jarrett

March 15, 2020 will stand out in my mind as memorable for years to come.  It was 6:14 a.m., my espresso was brewing, and my phone began buzzing violently in my robe pocket with email alerts. One particular message displayed the red URGENT flag and was from a senior Toshiba executive. Basically it was  along the lines of “you’ve had 19 years to prepare, Jason, we need your expertise — and we need it now!”

Call it pre-caffeine brain or overall confusion, my adrenaline spiked. However, I was dumbfounded as to what he meant.  After several phone calls and emails throughout the day, one question stood out as the common denominator:

“How can we best empower our clients for remote office productivity right now?”

Bringing the corporate office to your home

Since joining Toshiba in 2001, I have been a remote employee.  At the time, this was something new to me, but also an exciting change.  What I didn’t realize was this opportunity would groom me and my teams to be fully prepared for the unprecedented business interruption that COVID-19 has yielded for so many.

I have spent my tenure with Toshiba building technology-based best practices, implementing these best practices and solutions, and recognizing monumental shifts in how our clients do business; think manual to automated.

It’s imperative during this already challenging time to establish attainable best practices.  Becoming efficient today means providing the average person simple ways to perform their day-to-day tasks remotely without adding additional stress.  Think “how can we bring the corporate office to the home office?”

Managing data remotely

These are my three recommendations to pivot quickly with minimal negative impact:

1. It’s imperative that a workforce can access documents on-demand. Most clients we work with have some form of digital platform in place that house their documents digitally, at least to an extent.  This could range from a full-blown electronic content management (ECM) system, to something simple like MS OneDrive.

If you have a similar system already in place, remote access to upload and download these documents is a good start.  If you don’t, keep it simple and implement a basic platform that will support remote access. This isn’t necessarily permanent and shouldn’t be treated as a long-term solution requiring months of planning and configuration.

Once this box is checked, providing a digital on-ramp and output source at home will close the loop.  I recommend a desktop multi-function printer that can both print out important documents for review via the desktop, tablet, etc., and scan in documents to the digital platform where data will now be stored.

2. Provide a secure method of data transmission will be important to maintain compliance and reduce gaps in communication with a remote workforce.  Several organizations and institutions still rely heavily on faxing for secure data transmission, and paper or email for large document transfer. In a remote environment, this can get cumbersome quickly:

• Analog phone lines are being utilized less by consumers and new residential construction

• Adding an analog or second analog line for faxing will incur additional expense

• Security may be compromised in remote environments

• Shipping large paper documents is expensive and time consuming

• Email exchange servers typically have file size caps on attachments

If you still use these methods, or share any of these concerns, my recommendation is a Cloud Fax and Secure Send platform.  Workers are ensured access to fax and secure transmission from anywhere, can use their desktop multi-function printer to convert paper documents to digital, the transmission methods are secure and meet compliance standards (including an audit log of activity), and overall simplicity for IT and workers is greatly increased.

3. Enable a simple yet effective solution for IT to stand up and manage a remote fleet of equipment and group(s) of users.  Fleet management, when it comes to printing devices, has been a widely known headache for IT departments that ends up arising during most of our client engagements.

Not to oversimplify this topic, but there is an easy solution available: output management software.

These software suites give IT the ability to centrally view all print devices, users, drivers, print queues, print policies, activity, problem logs, consumables, etc.  For automated consumable deliveries, I highly recommend a managed print program, especially in remote offices as there isn’t a supply cabinet close by with extra consumables on hand.

What’s security got to do with it? Everything!

Maintaining secure print policies in an office is a common practice, and relatively simple to execute.  However, this concept is easily overlooked for remote workers as it’s easy to assume nobody else has access to the home office printer.

WRONG!  When compliance and data security matters, the environment does not.  Therefore, having an audit log of prints and security tied to releasing print jobs is imperative and easy to carry over from the office to the remote workforce.

I know these unanticipated changes to our business processes can be unnerving.  While we can’t foresee the future, Toshiba can work with you right now to ensure your business still functions at minimal impact and downtime.

Thinking it’s time for a digital transformation? Stay tuned for more on this in the coming weeks.

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