These are trying times for everyone. As more companies seek social distancing to protect their employees from COVID-19, they may be looking to their MSPs for guidance on working from home.

Chances are, many of you monitor and manage your client’s systems from afar. It’s not unusual these days to do maintenance and updates to systems without being onsite. That means you have some experience with remote workers already. You can use that to help companies understand what they are up against.

Not all small and medium businesses will be suited to operate remotely. Some require in-person contact to operate, but authorities are encouraging those who can, to stay home and away from the office. That requires working remotely.

The biggest challenges will simply be meeting to discuss the day-to-day running of the business, and setting up client meetings when needed. Then there’s basic communication between employees, who may be used to walking up to a colleague’s desk to ask a question. Finally, you’ll need to share documents and other work products to keep projects moving.

To the cloud

If your clients aren’t already in the cloud, this is a great opportunity to get them going with online versions of tools they are already using. Many of these tools have a free version for small groups, or at least a trial period to get them comfortable.

If a client is already using Microsoft Office, consider opening an Office 365 account for them. If they can do it, consider Google Docs. If you want to go the pay route, get the commercial version, G Suite, which offers more security and support.

For online meetings, you can use Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoTo Meeting, or any of the large number of services offering these tools. Some of them have free tiers, but also offer tiered pricing depending on your needs.

For document storage and sharing, you can consider a tool like Box or Dropbox. For communications beyond email, you could look Google Hangouts (which includes a chat client), Slack, or Microsoft Teams (or any of the other various tools).

All of this will probably require a period of adjustment for everyone. You may need to set up a VPN for secure access, and it might be a good idea to team up with a training professional, who can walk your clients through the basics.

It’s not an easy time for anyone, but this kind of adjustment is another opportunity for you to add value for your clients, and show them that you are a trusted partner.

Photo: LStockStudio / Shutterstock

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Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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