Can I really overcome the challenges of Remote Working as a Small Business using Custom Software?
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The Challenges of Remote Working for Small Businesses
Remote working can produce a number of challenges for small businesses due to the lack of resources available to them. Larger enterprises may have their own dedicated IT departments that can help them prepare for unforeseen circumstances such as the recent lockdown due to COVID-19. If you are a business of 1 chances are that you have your software running on a single laptop but for organisations with more than 2 staff members challenges can soon set in.
Remote Working Challenges
Remote Desktop Software can help your staff access their computers from anywhere and make it appear like they are using their computers as normal from their work desk in the office. Unfortunately they are not always ideal as we will describe below.
Software Installation & Configuration
Installing the required remote access software onto a staff member’s PC may present a whole challenge in itself, especially during a pandemic such as COVID-19. The remote user may not have the experience or the confidence to install the software themselves and may need the help of the company’s IT department, if it even has one. Home visits by IT professionals to perform the installation would also be off the cards.
Installation is only the start of the problem as the software then requires configuration and perhaps the company firewall needs to have new rules setup to allow the work computers to talk to each other.
To access a computer remotely that computer needs to be kept up and running so that your staff can access them from home incurring costs to your business that you could well do without.
User licenses may need to be purchased on a monthly basis to cover the number of PCs you need to connect to. If your broadband connection can't handle the number of connections required this can be an even greater waste of money as you may have the licenses but only half of the users that need to sign on can actually get any kind of connection.
The Number of Possible Connections
One of the issues with a remote desktop solution is that connections can be slow depending on the type of internet connection your staff and business has. The entire remote computers screen needs to be shared with the remote worker, which is a lot of data to be sent. This chews up a lot of your internet connections bandwidth resulting in a gradual decrease in performance depending upon the number of staff connecting at the same time. In fact it can end up that only a few staff members can connect at a time because of the amount of data passing between the two computers during a users work period which can really hamper your organisations performance and productivity. Staff can also become frustrated as they try to connect to their work computers and may even experience their connection being dropped entirely after a while due to available bandwidth becoming exhausted.
Screen and lagging Issues
Lagging, not to be confused with the stuff protecting your house pipes from the cold, is when a delay occurs between the user choosing to perform an action on their remote computer and for that computer to send a response back. Sometimes this can be really severe due to the sheer amount of information exchanged between the two computers. To help reduce the amount of data shared during a remote session you can increase the compression used when sending the remote screen or drop the number of colours used in the connection but this has the side effect of making text difficult to read and can also have the reverse effect of slowing the connection down more as the worker's computer has to do more work in de-compressing the screen once it has been received.
Lets say a home user is working on a Word document and their connection begins to lag. Lagging can cause a user to repeatedly perform an action that they believe has not been registered by the remote computer resulting in the deletion or addition of more text than they actually intended. This can lead to lots of frustration and lost productivity with no easy workaround.
Screen size can also work against the remote worker. Staff when working from home may not have the same size of monitor that they use in the office which results in the remote users screen being scaled to a smaller or larger size or having to scroll around the screen resulting in a difficult to read display or cumbersome work experience.
Custom Software to the Rescue
Custom Web Applications on the other hand can provide a great deal of flexibility and cost savings over remote access software. There is absolutely no need to run a room of computers so that staff can get to their work thanks to the always available nature of Cloud based software.
A web application also has another advantage; it doesn’t require installation on a remote workers computer. The remote worker just needs to go to a specific web address that the company sends them to and they now have complete access again to their files and documents stored within the application. Also, updates can be installed easily and without fuss to a web application without affecting the business or the work being performed by its staff.
User license fees can be thrown out the window too as they wont be required for each connection as the application is running in the cloud and accessed through a standard web browser. Web applications can provide you with a complete Contact Resource Management system storing company documents, calendars, email etc. providing quick and easy access at all times of day for your staff.
Lag is also banished from the user experience as bandwidth usage is massively reduced, with only the information requested by the remote worker being sent rather than a whole computer screens worth. This allows your staff to remain as productive as they are in the office without fear of slowdown, disconnection or loss of quality.
Custom web applications can also scale efficiently between different screen sizes, all the way from a mobile phone up to a large desktop monitor without any loss of quality.