The post-Covid workplace checklist - The EE

The post-Covid workplace checklist

Jacques Bonifay, Transatel CEO (NTT Group)

For those ready to say “Yes” to the virtual workplace, but who need some guarantees.

Companies are increasingly asking how we can make their transition to a mobile, virtual workplace more secure, efficient, and cost-effective in the long term. The answer, says Jacques Bonifay, Transatel CEO, is it’s all in the (cellular) connectivity.

Still dizzy from the effects of the lockdown on business in general, companies are now letting the dust settle and defining long-term directions for the future of the workplace. The key takeaway: remote work on a large scale is effective and can, in some cases, increase productivity. Management of transverse projects and teamwork can be digitalised to welcome even more participants from across the world, gain efficiency, reduce travel and office space costs, improve tracking, and enrich the knowledge base. This, of course, is made possible with the bevy of collaborative and/or videoconferencing tools and apps available today.

The mobile workplace is forever

Facing employee pressure to continue working from home, companies have only one option, which is to consider that remote work is here to stay. No backtracking is possible with such a demonstration of efficacy as during the past few months. So, one of the key questions becomes: How can we increase staff productivity while (1) controlling connectivity costs and (2) securing both data transmissions and the access to our corporate Information Systems, globally?

It’s worth noting here that, compared to cellular networks that are secured by design, home Wi-Fi is a potential entry point for hackers. First, households do not offer from the same level of security for internet access as companies do, where dedicated teams monitor the network, and where passwords are changed regularly. Second, technically, a company computer connected to a home Wi-Fi network is in direct contact with all the other devices using the same network, namely personal devices. These have a higher probability of malware infection, via the download or streaming of free content.

At Transatel for example, we even add an additional level of security by making sure our clients’ data streams never transit via the internet. Our clients control their network and that’s what makes all the difference. When you think that your teams will soon be traveling or simply commuting again, you’ll be happy they’re not using public Wi-Fi!

Last, in the case of critical services that need absolute real-time reactivity, and for which a connectivity outage can have immense legal, financial, and business consequences, the question is: How can we build an airtight back-up system for our regular fibre-optic and ADSL lines? When over half of a company’s headcount is working remotely, offices must also undergo serious scrutiny in terms of connectivity backup. “Always connected” is no longer the stuff of company mottos; it’s the signature of a lifeline.

Time for some answers now.

Assessing your degree of maturity vis a vis the mobile workplace

If you have thus far acknowledged that the post-Covid workplace challenge is one of connectivity, first and foremost, and if you agree that 4G/cellular networks are an integral part of that challenge, then you’re coming to the rational conclusion that you should manage and control your employees’ mobile connectivity as you would any other overhead cost; across functions, sites, use cases and countries.

To help you kick-start the rationalisation process, I would suggest the following self-assessment as a launch-pad, asking yourself:

  1. How do I plan to provide and control the connectivity for my remote workers?
  2. How can I make sure that, by using their home’s internet access, my employees aren’t creating back doors for hackers?
  3. Are my employees equipped with cellular-ready devices (laptops, tablets, Mi-Fi)?
  4. Is the absence of any connectivity outage critical for my organisation?
  5. Do I have any cross-technology backup plans, including 4G?
  6. Do I need an immediate and interim connectivity solution, while waiting for fiber optic and/or ADSL lines to be installed?
  7. Do I need a dedicated routing for my employees’ data traffic to enter directly into my premises or my cloud provider infrastructure?

What are the criteria for an intelligent mobile workplace solution?

Once you know where you stand, remember, before engaging in a new Employee Mobility Management protocol, to look for a solution that offers:

  • Plug & play, instant-on, dependable connectivity, whatever the use case

Your objective must be to find an overarching solution for your remote workers’ SIM-enabled laptops and tablets and your field workers’ (mechanical engineers, sales force…) cellular-equipped devices. It should also cover eSIM-ready smartphones for corporate travel, and Chromebook-like devices for cloud computing. 

  • A single SIM type, and a single point of control and monitoring

You should be able to manage your SIM fleet and your connectivity costs independently, from a single web portal, while benefiting from global support for your SIMs anywhere in the world. Look for a solution offering a unique SIM type so that all your group’s subsidiaries around the world can use the same solution. Also, relying on a single SIM SKU streamlines your supply chain and logistics, naturally.

  • Airtight security in data transmission

Make sure to secure your company’s data traffic by isolating it from the internet and apply your data security policy rules. Find a solution that can route your data traffic directly to your own data centre or cloud provider, over IPSec, cross-connect, or direct peering. ​

  • Flexible pricing models

Ensure the solution you adopt can benefit all your use cases, from Pay-per-Use for flexibility to capped bundles for cost predictability.

  • Global 3G/4G coverage

If your company is international, eliminating roaming costs will be a priority. Avoid individual negotiations and integrations country per country by relying on a solution that is global by design, with an international Mobile Network Code, offering network-agnostic SIMs and leveraging on existing agreements with many countries.

The author is Jacques Bonifay, CEO of Transatel.

About the author

As CEO and founder of Transatel, today an affiliate of NTT Ltd. (NTT Group), Jacques Bonifay has been at the forefront of the global development of cellular solutions for enterprises for the past 20 years. His company is currently launching a streamlined and global offer for enterprise mobility management: Mobile Workplace Connect. The company is also launching a solution for the cellular enhancement of SD-WAN, offering interim solutions to companies, either as a long-term backup plan, or as a short-term, crisis, or one-off based solution: Cellular WAN Connect.

Transatel entered the Internet of Things (IoT) space in 2014 with the launch of a solution for Microsoft’s Always Connected PCs, a solution adopted and deployed worldwide by such manufacturers as Lenovo, Microsoft Surface, VAIO, ACER, and ASUS. The company’s customer-facing, eSIM-based brand Ubigi is also gaining awareness as the most versatile and powerful global offer for eSIM-enabled laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

In parallel, Jacques Bonifay is also president of MVNO Europe, an association made up of the largest European MVNOs, where he supervises lobbying initiatives directed towards the European Parliament, the DG COMP and DG CONNECT. He combines this responsibility with that of president of Alternative Telecom, the French association of alternative fixed and mobile operators, where he leads the association’s interests in relation to the French Government and Parliament, ARCEP, and the Competition Authority.

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