What is VPN and how to leverage it for remote-working

The pandemic effect of Covid19 is definitely going to accelerate the change of the existing office model to better adapt and accommodate remote-working technologies and possibly instead of a centralized large office, it might make more sense to have more smaller offices closer to employees' homes. While Work From Home (#WFH) is being imposed on almost everyone right now it might not be as efficient and productive for all employees. What is sure is that we will now see the rise of a hybrid-remote-model becoming the office norm.

With multiple offices and partial team members working from homes, communicating becomes a challenge for both employees and employers as they will require additional remote-working-technologies to ensure a productive environment. Of course, there are online tools available for chats/emails/video-conferencing for communication but effective communication requires a lot more than just that. You cannot transmit important files with sensitive information over mails, chats, or online links which are exposed to outside public and are out of supervision of company firewalls.

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

"A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running on an end system (PC, smartphone etc.) across a VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network."

Source: Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_private_network)

To explain this concept better let’s assume a real-life situation where there are three types of employees in any company -

H - Head office employees

B - Branch office employees

R - Remote workers (home or outside cities)

Now, suppose the company has an accounting software with a database linked to their secured confidential dataset hosted at their Head Office Server. Now, the accounting team is distributed across all three categories, H, B, and R - and all need to access that software and database to execute their work.

H employees will not face any difficulties and will be able to access the software and database with ease as they are physically present and within the same local network of the server. However, B and R employees will not have access because that server is not in their local environment.

In this case VPN can be enabled to provide software database access for both B and R employees in a secured manner without going out of the company firewall environment.

All that B and R employees will need to do is to connect their device to any normal internet connections and then activate VPN access for the Head Office network. The credentials will have to be shared in advance by the company with them. Once they connect through VPN, they are virtually present in the local environment of the Head Office LAN network and have access to all devices and servers available in the premises which were accessible by H employee. Since both B and R employees connect through a secured tunnel architecture of VPN, the communication is highly secure and controlled while not being exposed to any outsiders.

VPN can also help companies monitor remote-employees’ work-time schedules based on their online activity on VPN servers and hence this can resolve some part of the trust issues with timings in remote working style.

In order to retain and attract customers we believe it is beneficial for coworking spaces and private offices to start equipping their work environment for VPN access to attract more companies to their premises and to provide a secured communication channel.

There are many ways to optimize Working from Home. We would like to know your views on how remote-working can be made efficient with technology and how to build a secured work environment for everyone.

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