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How to access your works server remotely

Home working during the pandemic has revolutionised how we approach the world of work. While some of us had worked from home previously, for many it was a new experience and brought with it unique challenges.

The speed of the transition meant that many employees didn’t immediately have the technology or training for successful home working. This included having access to work drives and servers while at home.

For new home workers, connecting to your work server remotely might have felt like a challenge, but thankfully there are a number of ways to do it and as we move forward into a new era of hybrid offices, it’s likely that more and more of us will be accessing work in this way in the near future.

Cloud based working and using Office 365

If your organisation had already started or completed the transition to being ‘cloud first’ before the pandemic, then you were arguably among those best placed for the sudden change to working from home. Cloud-based working is essentially using a third party provider to host all of your data and systems online, from work emails and office software to files and documents.

The main benefit of this service is that all of your data is saved in the cloud meaning you can access it from anywhere and using any device. This is ideal for a distributed workforce. An example of this service is Microsoft Office 365. Files and documents are stored in SharePoint and OneDrive while email is handled by Microsoft Exchange Online. Colleagues can also communicate with each other using Microsoft Teams. There are many other cloud-based providers available such as Dropbox, Apple iCloud, and Google Drive, as well as related tech such as Brother’s cloud-based apps and Web Connect, but not all organisations are ready to make the move to being ‘cloud first’. If your employer still has servers and drives that you need to access to do your job, then you’ll need another way to connect to your work network.

Using servers to connect you to the office

Many organisations still have physical servers and drives that staff need to connect to in order to access files and data. This is straightforward in a traditional office setting, but a little more complex when working from home. However, there are several options available. Let’s take a look: 

1. VPN connection

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers a safe, encryption internet connection or ‘tunnel’ direct to your office server that also masks your IP address and protects your activity and data. This is ideal for remote workers since it reduces the risk of information being intercepted as it travels between networks. Your organisation will simply need to buy a licence and work with a VPN provider.

VPN services also come with a range of security features for detecting unsafe connections and disconnecting devices if they notice a data leak. You can also use a VPN anywhere, which should help protect home workers from accidentally using a vulnerable public network if they pop out for a coffee at lunch time and decide to work on the move. Ideally, a VPN should be installed on a company device, whether that’s a computer, laptop or smart device, and should come with a firewall and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption.

2. Remote desktop connection

There are several different variations of remote or virtual desktop technology, with names such as Desktop Virtualisation, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and VDI (Virtual desktop infrastructure). Essentially, they provide remote workers with a virtual connection to their office desktop, including their work server and files. At its best, this should be completely seamless and offer staff the exact same computer experience they would have if they were sitting at their desk in the office rather than at home. There are several different types of virtual desktops available, each with their pros and cons, but one consistent element is that the whole system needs to be managed and delivered by your organisation’s IT department or working with a third-party provider. From an employee’s perspective you would simply log into your work desktop from home via a virtual interface.

Both Microsoft, Apple, and Google offer remote desktop tools, although the free versions each come with unique caveats, such as Apple only allowing screen sharing with other Apple devices.

3. Third party software

There are a number of third party software solutions on the market to help home workers connect to their work server and drives. You may see these described as remote desktop software with brand names such as RemotePC, Teamviewer, Zoho Assist, and more. Several of these providers use cloud technology and offer businesses a wider selection of features compared to free tools such as Chrome Remote Desktop or similar services from Microsoft or Apple.

The third-party remote software packages will usually need to be purchased on a monthly or annual plan for business use, but other than that it’s simply a case of downloading and installing the software. The advantage of this is that it is an ‘out of the box’ solution, so neither you nor your IT department has to do a great deal. They’re also scalable so you can increase or reduce your plan to fit workload and budget. Brother works closely with a range of leading third party software providers such as Kofax ControlSuite and ThinPrint to deliver technology solutions for home and hybrid working.

These three options essentially use a slightly different method to achieve the same result – access to your work servers and drives from home. The decision will depend on your particular needs and the set-up of your organisation. Regardless of which option you choose, home workers and their organisations also need to consider the best ways to print remotely in the new world of hybrid working. Brother has partnered with ThinPrint while we also offer short-term MPS (Managed Print Services) contracts for home workers and their organisations, which perfectly complement the remote, virtual desktop, and cloud-based working options we have explored above.

Summary

When it comes to accessing your work server remotely in the new era of hybrid working, you have a growing number of options, particularly if you’re working towards becoming cloud first. In many ways, your choice of connection will depend on the nature of your role and organisation as well as a range of other factors. For some employees, access to work email will be enough, but others will need access to files and other resources. The good news is that employers understand that their workforces need the right technology, training, and support, as well as access to digital resources and infrastructure, to do their job effectively from any location.

Alongside employers, Brother is working closely with its partners to provide a range of innovative technology solutions for remote working. With our suite of cloud-based apps, you can create, edit, and share documents from your Brother device. You don’t even need a computer, as these apps can be accessed directly through Brother’s award-winning printers, scanners, and all-in-one machines, which connect to the cloud via Brother Web Connect. This allows users to upload files straight to a wide range of popular cloud storage sites such as Dropbox and OneDrive, as well as social media platforms.

While migrating to the cloud might be the easiest way for home workers and their organisations to work as normal from any location, there are a variety of other innovative solutions available, from VPNs to remote desktop and more. Brother is among those helping home workers and their organisations to successfully embrace our new hybrid world.

 

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