Cybersecurity Blog

11 min read

10 Challenges of Managing Your Virtual Team (and 10 WFH Solutions)

Jul 12, 2020 7:32:20 AM

Whether you're starting a remote company from scratch or you're trying to transform your current business into running more smoothly while people work from home, you'll find that operating a remote company has different challenges than a traditional office operation. In the list below we outline some of the most common challenges of remote companies with solutions that we use. Why care about what we have to say? BEMO is a 100% remote company since 2010, so this work from home stuff hasn't changed a thing for us.
 
WFH Business Solutions
 
Personally, I've been working from home for 3+ years now. Here is me and my setup! I've have a surface book 2 hooked up to 2 27" monitors connected by the Microsoft surface hub, surface pro 3 (still runs great), surface keyboard, and surface precision mouse! And let's not forget my Bic 4-color pen that I've sworn by all my life (aka the only pen you'll ever need)! Alrightenough about me, let's get down to the nitty gritty. Here are the 10 top issues we see (and have experienced) for remote companies and how we solve them here at BEMO:

 

Internal Collaboration Tool

Email is not the place to have internal conversations, especially with 10+ recipients, all those notifications, and the person who inevitably forgets to reply all. Every remote team needs some sort of internal collaboration tool, your two most notable options here are Slack and Microsoft Teams.
 
Slack vs. Teams stats 2020
 
For more on which to go with, check out our Slack vs Teams blog post. We use Teams for a few reasons (and here's a post on 10 unexpected benefits of the Microsoft Teams app):
  1. It's integrated with all Office 365 apps
  2. It's already included in the Office 365 subscription we're paying for
  3. It includes video conferencing
  4. It includes personal phone line, aka Microsoft gives me a personal dedicated number so that I can make and receive calls on any device

 

 

Video Conferencing

When you don't get to see each other every day you need a way to connect to people, lest you get stircrazy (and crazy unproductive). At BEMO, video conferencing is how we satisfy the drive to connect. Video conferencing isn't even new, but it's adoption has exploded during COVID-19, so I'm sure you've used Zoom, Webex, or GoToMeeting. Once again, we use Microsoft Teams for video conferencing because it comes automatically with all the other Microsoft 365 apps and it's included in the price, so why go and try to find another tool? Especially since Microsoft has video conferencing features far beyond what the others have to offer, and while Microsoft isn't in the news as much, they have incredible growth rates for Teams.

 

 

File Sharing

How are you sharing files with others? Using a VPN to access the file server in the office? Emailing each other documents? Using a cloud solution like Dropbox, Google Docs, or Box.com?
 
Since we use Microsoft 365 as our office productivity suite (Outlook, Word, Excel etc.)it made sense to the use the  rest of the Microsoft 365 suite for file sharing as well! We use SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, Microsoft's file sharing solution. We like it because it's integrated with everything else Microsoft, it's one less cloud software you have to learn how to use, one less password, and we save more money by consolidating!
 
 

Phone System

If you're a remote company, then the traditional tied to your desk land-line provider (think Comcast or Verizon) just isn't going to cut it for you. When everyone works from home or on the road, you need a phone system that travels with you, but you also don't want to use your personal phone number for business, right? On top of that, you probably have people in different cities and maybe even different countries. So how do you all place external calls? How do you make sales calls, support customers, or call your partners?
 
 
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Once again Microsoft has a solution. Did you know Microsoft can provide you and all of your employees with a personal, dedicated phone number in your local area code? All of our team members can make and receive phone calls with a US phone number using the teams app on any device, no matter where they work from in the world. It's awesome! Not to mention it's month-to-month with no contracts.
 

People Receiving Notifications After Work

 
We have team members across the world in different time zones. If I live in Seattle and send an email at 6PM PST to Josh (Houston), then he's going to get all sorts of notifications until 8PM his time. This makes it really hard to escape work turning 'work from home' into 'live at work'... which is not what what we want. Here's the solution:
 
Here's how to set Do-Not-Disturb Hours for Outlook:
 

 

Here's how to set Quite Hours in Microsoft Teams:

 

Password Manager

Honestly everyone needs a password manager, not just remote companies. This solution comes to mind because remote companies have a 'digital-first' mindset, which also means they have credentials to many different SaaS solutions and online accounts that need to be shared across team members. We use Keeper Security as our password manager because 

  1. It's easy and simply to use
  2. It's simple to securely share passwords across the team
  3. It integrates with Microsoft 365, meaning you get Single Sign-On with Keeper

 

Business VPN

If you're a remote company then you need to think about cybersecurity. You have people logging in from all over the USA and potentially all over the world, working from coffee shops, airports, hotel rooms, and just about anywhere with free WiFi. Statistically speaking, that means it's only a matter of time before someone who is using free unsecured WiFi is going to get hacked.

 

We really like using perimeter81 because:

  1. It integrates with Microsoft 365 for Single Sign-on (SSO) and Azure Conditional Access

    What does that mean? It means that Microsoft 365 can detect that you're trying to connect to Starbucks' unsecured WiFi and won't let you access any data until you flip the VPN switch on! How cool is that?!

  2. When you turn on the VPN you and all of the other employees get the same IP address, which is SO nice if you're in IT or software development and need a fixed IP.
  3. One of the annoyances of other VPNs is that every time you connect you always get a different IP address. With perimeter81 all of your team members connect to the same network and have the same IP. This makes it really convenient to whitelist certain IP addresses or use a fixed IP in your code or IT systems.
  4. It's about the same price as all the other VPN solutions out there.

 

Payroll / HR Solution

Problem: You want to treat everyone who works for you like an employee and offer good pay and benefits, but if you hire someone outside the USA, that person is considered a 'contractor'. You instantly create a divide between how you treat people because you can only call your American team members 'employees' and only the Americans can receive benefits. 
 
Enter Remote.com, the HR / Payroll solution that will enter into an employment contract with your 'contractor' in their country, so that you can 1) make anyone an employee, regardless of country 2) offer them benefits 3) not have to open a subsidiary or deal with local compliance. 
 
 

To give you a heads up, remote.com is the only solution in this blog post that we haven't used (up until now) because it's so new that it just came out but we are piloting it with our international team members.

Currently we us Gusto to manage all of our United States team members and we absolutely love it. From both the admin side and end-user side it takes out all of the stress that comes with payroll and benefits. I see my salary, taxes (it integrates with Turbo Tax), my PTO, 401k, and all other benefits in one place, and Gusto makes it easy to actually understand the healthcare benefits.

 

Identity Security

Much in the same vein as using a password manager and a business VPN, when running a remote company it's so easy for your company to get hacked. You have a ton of different cloud solutions, you need to manage the credentials for each one, and even if you manage to create strong passwords, someone can still steal it and get into one of your many accounts. This is why we have Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) enabled on all of our accounts and use Single-Sign On (SSO) for eligible apps.

 

Device Management

 
If you have an IT team, how are they supposed to help out your employees with technology issues if everyone is working from home and they can't come over to your desk to solve your issue. How can they quickly figure out what version of Windows or Mac a device is running or if firmware is up to date? 
 
At BEMO we use Microsoft Intune to centrally manage all of our devices remotely. From a single web portal (Microsoft Admin Center) we can see all the users in our company and each users' devices. This means that IT can click a button and send an update to every device, remotely, from the couch! If an employee has an issue, you can quickly diagnose possible solutions because you have all the stats on every device. If you ever need to take control of the device, IT can use AnyDesk or Teams viewer to quick solve the issue. Boom, pain is gone.
 

 

Comments? Questions? Leave yours below. We'd love to hear from you.

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Brandon Lecoq
Written by Brandon Lecoq

Cybersecurity Manager

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