If there’s anything we’ve learned during the pandemic, it’s the importance of being agile and adapting to changing circumstances. While the shift toward work-from-home and hybrid work models continues to drive innovation forward, it’s important to take precautionary measures to ensure that digital assets and business information remain strictly confidential.

So, in this article, you’ll find out:

  • How to set up a VPN on your office network so that all communications running through it are encrypted and anonymized
  • How to connect team members to your VPN server so they stay protected even when they leave the office or work remotely
  • How to set up remote access to your office files so that team members can access them anytime, anywhere

How To Create a VPN In Your Office

The first thing you’ll want to do is get a VPN and install it on your office router. This routes all communications on the network through secure encrypted tunnels and serves as a frontline shield against automated attacks.

Rather than installing the VPN client on each of your team members’ computers, installing it directly on the office router means that all devices that connect to that network are using secure, encrypted tunnels.

Before you rush into buying a VPN for your business, make sure it’s compatible with your router or invest in a new router that supports VPN. Some VPN providers like Express VPN have even gone the extra mile by providing dedicated, router-compatible software. Learn more about installing a VPN on your router.

VPN Setup
Source: ExpressVPN

How To Create a VPN for Remote Work

Just having a VPN in the office isn’t going to be enough if your employees are working remotely. You want every person in your team to be able to connect to the internet securely even if they’re working from home or the library or local cafe.

To do that, the VPN needs to be installed onto their devices. Some VPN providers offer business suites that cover multiple devices under one account. You want to have enough available connections to accommodate all the devices that your teammates are using for work.

Don’t just settle for their laptops if they’re also using their phones to send work emails or share files. Even their home desktop could be a vulnerability if there are other users on the network such as their kids or spouse, who may not be as cautious about their actions online.

Your VPN provider will guide you as to how to add users and devices to your VPN account. Usually, it involves downloading the VPN app onto the device or configuring the device’s built-in VPN settings. Either way, with a VPN, switched on, all of your employees’ communications and, ultimately, your business data remains encrypted and anonymized, keeping them hidden from snoopers and hackers.

If you’re worried that your employees will forget to switch the VPN on when working remotely, choose a VPN provider that offers a killswitch. When turned on, users will only be able to connect to the internet via VPN. They can set it once and forget about it altogether.

How To Share Office Files Securely

Now that you have a VPN in place and your entire team is using it, you can safely share file directories with them. If your office files are stored locally in your office, and your teammates are working from home, you’re probably familiar with the struggle of sending and editing files back and forth over email. You end up exhausted with multiple file versions and dozens of emails that waste your time and clog up your mailbox.

Moving your entire file directory to the cloud would make this a thousand times easier and if you have a VPN, more secure as well. To further your defenses, most cloud services now offer two-factor authentication (2FA), making it a safe and easy way to share files with your workmates. Here are a few popular cloud storage options.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a popular choice for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) because it lets you do so much. Team members can create and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations without emailing anybody and control the access level that each team member gets to each file or folder.

They can also share calendars to see when each team member is available for meetings and assign tasks to one another. All of these features are available with Gmail for free, but you can also get more storage with Google One and more features, such as your own email domain and a dedicated drive on your desktop if you purchase G Suite.

Changing link sharing options

Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is less intuitive and more focused on enterprise solutions. Its biggest advantage is that it lets you share files right from your file directory and access them from anywhere. If your team is very used to doing things the old way, Microsoft OneDrive might be an easier transition for them.

Moreover, with an extra piece of hardware, you can enable Windows Remote Desktop, which allows teammates to access office computers remotely. To set it up on Windows 10:

  • Navigate to Start→Accessories→Communications→Remote Desktop
  • Type the name of your work computer and click “Connect”
  • You should now be able to use your work computer from your home PC or laptop

If you also have Windows network homegroup enabled, you can use Remote Desktop to access other computers or file directories in the office, from the comfort of their own home. Users should be sure to switch on their VPN before they do this.

iCloud

Mac and iOS users can share files via iCloud, but as far as businesses go, Apple doesn’t give as much flexibility as it requires everyone on the team to be using Apple hardware. So, it’s often the case that mac users turn to other cloud solutions.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a range of cloud-based services for organizations including networking systems, storage databases, content delivery networks, enterprise applications, and developer tools. Given these capabilities, AWS is more suited towards startups and tech companies, software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, and large or remote information technology (IT) departments.

Other Options

Many smaller providers, such as Box and Dropbox, let you access your team’s work from your PC, Mac, Android, or iOS easily. Different vendors offer different features and storage capacities. Have a look at our list of best cloud storage services for small businesses.

Conclusion

Almost two years into the pandemic, reality has proven that there’s absolutely no reason to make people commute to the office every day. While many companies are closing or minimizing their office space, remote and hybrid work models are proving productive, saving SMBs a considerable chunk of their budget. Ideally, that saving should then be invested in tools that will further the collaborative abilities of the team while maintaining a high level of security across the board.

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