Top tips for managing a mobile workforce

Jenny Carpenter

IT administration is nothing like it was 10 years ago. Staff worked in the office on desktop PCs, and laptops were typically the exclusive preserve of senior management and mobile salespeople. As for iPads, well, they hadn’t even been invented.

Today’s IT department has plenty of work to do to keep control of an increasingly distributed user base.

200491658Remote machines are arguably more susceptible to infection than the machines kept in the close confines of an office environment. Just for starters, laptops are often more frequently connected to public Wi-Fi networks, exposing the machine to countless threats.

It can prove highly impractical for a user to return a laptop to “base” if something goes wrong, so it’s important to be able to fix as many issues as possible without physical contact with the machine.

IT departments need more than remote desktop protocol (RDP) to manage the workforce.

The solution is something that includes remote support, but also handles ongoing monitoring of remote machines and works effectively when fully or partially disconnected from the network in the office. (If you need to clean an infected remote laptop, you don’t want the user to open a virtual private network (VPN) into the production network so you can fix it.)

Remote machines can present a real danger to the network, so the more visible they are to you, the better. If unauthorized software has been installed, it’s important that you know straight away. That’s where asset tracking comes in.

It’s also quite easy for a remote user to continually ignore important patches and updates either through negligence (“I’ll do it tomorrow…”) or a simple lack of understanding (“I’m not sure I should click ‘accept.’ I better not risk it…”). For this reason, you need patch management functionality to ensure remote machines are up to date.

The more distributed the workforce is, the more crucial it is to have constant visibility into all devices on the company’s network. A scheduled “back to base” check for each machine is simply not enough—or realistic—if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises that cut into your free time.