Tag Archives: remote work

7 tips how to avoid communication gap working with a remote developer

Quite often, we hear the information about gaps in communication between the client and the remote developer: the developer does not respond to messages quickly; the developer does not get in touch in time; the client can’t control the order of task completion, and change task priority; the developer didn’t do the task as the client wanted or the client clarified the changes in Skype, and the developer relied on the description in the email; the developer spent more hours than the client expected and the developer did not warn about it.

To minimize communication gaps, we offer a few essential basic clauses of the “agreement” that can form effective interaction with the customer and remote developer.

  • Determine convenient communication channels with your Remote Worker (RW) (mail, instant messengers, Skype, Zoom, etc.) and the exact time of docking.
  • Form a system for recording the time spent on work, decide on a time-tracking model.
  • Make sure RW has access to the task management system (Jira, Trello, Google sheet, etc.) and follows the basic guidelines for using it.
  • Talk it over all the requirements for the development process: style/coding, test coverage, compatibility, performance, deployment, etc.
  • Determine a schedule for fixing and “delivery” of development results, both intermediate and final.
  • Make sure that RW has access to third-party services, add-ons, special equipment required for operation.
  • Consider the need to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and, if necessary, inform the outsourcing company manager.

Discuss each point and make sure that both sides understand it. Please note that if the development environment has been set up by a contractor, you will have to follow company rules and policies.

We hope these simple guidelines will help you find a great professional! Good luck!

Quarantine: 9 tips for quick transition to distance work

Despite the rapidly evolving world situation, the calls of doctors and governments to isolate themselves, it turned out that many companies and teams have not switched to remote work. And the point here is not always in company management. An instruction from the management may have passed, but the head of the department does not want to work from home or employees are faced with internal issues between the departments. Let’s try to figure out why? And how to solve this issue?

The company and teams always have ambitious goals and performance and this is not a reason to endanger people. You need to quickly find answers to questions related to the transition to remote work. The example of one project manager, Alex, has shown that all issues can be resolved, but the majority should be considered before. When Alex received a message about switching to remote work, he could not even imagine how many questions and approvals this could cause. What pitfalls are hidden, at first glance, by the seemingly harmless remote work and what Alex faced with:

– The ambiguous reaction of the team employees (I can’t work at home, I don’t want, you have to provide me with everything, etc.)

– How to overcome managers’ resistance?

– How to organize continuous and uninterrupted communication?

– Do all employees work on laptops that can be taken home?

– Does the company have tools allowing the usage of personal devices for corporate purposes?

– Is it possible to organize a remote and secure connection to an office computer network? We wrote about this here.

– How to get secure data access that does not go outside the office?

In an ordinary situation to arrange all these issues, the project manager needs to get around the office not just once: top management, security, system administrators, HR, accounting, etc. Maybe one of the readers sees yourself in this chain? On that occasion, all departments need to organize themselves because everyone will have to work remotely. Remote access to data may be needed not only by the project manager Alex but also by tops and the security service. We must all acknowledge and accept the situation and work in a new reality.

With the right approach and a thorough assessment of the situation, the process can be organized quickly and efficiently. After some thought and with Alex’s help, we created a checklist to simplify the transfer to distance work.

  1. Engage the HR service to form a questionnaire for employees what is needed for full-fledged remote work: devices, software, access to specific data, communication.
  2. Collect information from the heads of all departments or teams.
  3. Make the maximum list of required work resources that employees use. Check whether computers, access to corporate information, communications will work remotely.
  4. Gather all the steps of standard workflow and evaluate at what stage difficulties may arise. No one will do this for you in the current situation. Clearly check everything by yourself.
  5. Try to organize a mini rehearsal: run a normal workweek in an accelerated mode in a few hours.  If you are still in the office, then do it better in the workplace. If you have already switched to remote mode, then such actions will help you quickly find bottlenecks.
  6. Write a short checklist for your department or team: what they need to take from the office for remote work.
  7. As soon as you find gaps in the business process, immediately connect the necessary employees and treat them. Do not hope that everything will work by itself. It is necessary to consistently check each stage: how you will plan the work, how the data will be shared, the exchange of data, how you will report on the work done. After you need to test for possible bottlenecks.
  8. Be prepared now that you will have a budget overrun due to the organization of a remote mode of operation. You need to buy the necessary devices, software, accesses. Ongoing expenses for taxis, etc.
  9. Don’t let out of your sight that you will need to work closely with HR service throughout the whole remote work of the office. Some employees may not be able to withstand and leave, the team will need to be replenished. After stabilization of the situation, it turns out that some employees want to work from home or partly from home and will be asked to change the work schedule. The manager must foresee the likelihood that part of the team will have to be quickly replaced.

And again, we want to encourage all companies and employees to follow the recommendations as much as possible: stay at home and work remotely! If you can share your ideas for effective remote work with us, we look forward to hearing from you. All working issues can be resolved. We wish you all good health.

Creating a safe and secure connection amongst corporate networks and remote workers

How to set up remote office work as quickly as possible, efficiently and at the same time safe? How to make people like in an office, but not in the office? We can definitely say there is no single common way. It all depends on a number of factors that must be considered:

– We set the goal of what kind of work employees should perform remotely (read at home). Read mail or have full access to corporate information? We make this decision deliberately, and not in a panic in a matter of minutes. And always leave yourself a reserve of opportunity.

– Consider the company size or the number of employees who need to be transferred to remote work.

– Can we use existing hardware or there is a possibility of equipment and network resources purchase corresponding to the number of people and goals? Don’t overdo it here. There are entire hardware systems, but they are not always in demand in small organizations, due to their focus on servicing large enterprises and, as a result, high cost. Let us stay on this in more detail. 

 

We would recommend choosing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology. It allows you to create a secure connection in a potentially dangerous segment of a public network, such as the Internet and is one of the most common solutions. In simple terms, the VPN on the remote computer or mobile device connects to the VPN gateway of the company’s network, which authenticates and authorizes the user using a key or login and password. As a rule, with the help of both. After successfully completing this procedure, the user gets access to internal network resources (file server, databases, printers, and others) as if he was connected to the local network.

To protect remote access, IPsec or SSL protocols are most commonly used. They are not interchangeable and can function both separately and in parallel, determining the functional features of each of the implemented VPNs. SSL is more focused on providing a secure connection to a single application (for example, SharePoint or email), rather than to the entire internal network. For a full-featured permanent connection to the corporate network, we recommend choosing the IPsec protocol.

 

How to act? And what type of VPN to choose?

– VPN in routers – there are lots of cheap solutions on the market. Almost any router has the functionality of a built-in VPN server. Usually, this is a simple on/off functionality and adding password logins for users, sometimes integration with a Radius server. We do not recommend considering such a solution. First of all, you need to think about your safety and the continuity of the service. Such equipment cannot boast of an appropriate level of protection and the reliability of operation leaves much to be desired.

– OpenVPN – we recommend using this type of VPN only for small companies or projects up to 15 people. Just for such companies, which do not make sense to purchase professional network equipment in view of the absence of a large load. The main advantage of this out of the box solution is that it works on all platforms. You can purchase a device and configure it. Using special software, you can achieve its operability to build an OpenVPN tunnel. The disadvantage is that OpenVPN cannot withstand a serious load. For encryption and transmission of traffic on the server-side is used not specialized equipment, but server resources.

– Microsoft VPN – the Microsoft company offers a free solution for those who have the entire infrastructure built on their basis. In simple cases, the setup does not cause difficulties even for a novice system administrator. It should be borne in mind that in the case of building a more complex system, it will be necessary to delve deeper into the settings, in this case, the cost part will certainly grow in the same way as the complexity of servicing the solution. Nevertheless, this solution is not without advantages. 

– Enterprise-class VPN is high-class network equipment of Juniper, Cisco, Check Point companies: all of them have comprehensive solutions, which also include a VPN service. But it should be borne in mind that this solution has a higher cost. An annual fee is required. If you do not pay annual support fees, then do not count on security updates. The main advantages are that the level of security of the transmitted data is very high. Server security level – protected. Ensuring the reliability of the solution – redundancy technologies are provided.

Which type of VPN connection to choose is your decision. We can only give you our vision and recommendations.

 

Verify VPN Security

Regardless of which type of VPN you choose, to ensure a high level of security, you must perform a mandatory check. The VPN service that listens for incoming connections must correctly verify the credentials provided by the user. It is not enough to simply verify the username and password; to increase reliability, it is necessary to use security certificates. It is also required to use a competent password policy (complexity, storage periods, automatic generation, etc.). These actions together with the certificate will exclude attacks and hacking with password selection.

 

Take into account basic VPN benefits

– Scalability of the system. When adding new employees or opening a new office/branch in the future, there is no special additional cost for communication.

– System flexibility. For a VPN, it doesn’t matter where you access from. An individual employee can send mail from a corporate mailbox or have access to corporate data while working from home. It is also possible to use the so-called mobile offices, where there is no connection to a specific area.

– From the above, it follows that to organize the employee’s workplace is geographically unlimited, which is almost impossible when using a private network.

 

In general, this is all we wanted to share with you. We presented the information rather briefly, but the purpose of the article is to show possible solutions. Since not a single article can be devoted to a specific implementation. We are ready to give more information and disclose issues of interest.

Do not wait any longer and configure secure remote access and be healthy.