Building from scratch is never easy. A good plan, like anyone who has ever built Legos will know, can make it much simpler. Setting up a new remote office can be an exciting time for a business. New environments can breed creativity and bolster productivity if set up correctly. But what if the marketing department can’t access the internet to collaborate or sales can’t access their VOIP phone lines? Remote can seem much farther away if the new office is not done well in the first place.
Here’s what IT professionals can’t overlook when setting up a remote office.
Plan what will be required for the office internet connection. Questions to consider include: How large can the office grow and what will employees be doing at the office? What apps do these departments typically use? Also consider these technical decisions carefully:
- What internal apps do you need to support (ERP, financials)?
- What SaaS apps do you need to support (Salesforce, Marketo)?
- Do you need to support VOIP?
- Will employees need to connect to headquarters?
- Are there any internal apps that require secure connection?
- Does anyone besides IT need to be able to remote into the remote office?
- How many people will IT be supporting at the new office?
With these details in place, IT will have a better idea of what’s needed to support the network in the office. Start to investigate ISPs, cabling and hardware. Also consider these technical decisions carefully:
- Do any vendors already have infrastructure in the building?
- Do you need a single- or dual-provider setup?
- Is the ISP providing routers?
- Do you need to hire a contractor for new or existing cabling?
- What type of cabling will be used?
- Fiber or copper run planning
- Patch cords
- Do you have architectural plans for the space?
- Patch panel locations
- Rack locations
- Wall and floor outlet locations
- Floor-to-floor interconnects
- What are the decisions to make around switches?
- Number needed
- VLAN and subnet planning
- What’s the scope of racks and shelving?
- Is there an obvious place or room for racks?
- Do you have an electrician?
- Power distribution and control
- What are the location’s security considerations?
- Alarm system or cameras
- Access control
- What type and quantity of phones are needed?
- Additional cables run for VOIP lines
- Which brand of printers and how many?
- Conference rooms
It’s important to consider workplace culture when deploying an IT strategy to a new office. The human element of technology can make or break the success of a remote location, especially since the central team may have an additional challenge in supporting those employees from a distance.
- What collaboration apps are already available to employees, and are they going to work well in the new office?
- Video conferencing
- Intranet connection
- Messaging apps
- Are there SaaS apps that should be continuously monitored for user experience?
- Product management (Jira, Basecamp)
- Project monitoring (Asana, Trello)
- Sales (Salesforce, Bloomfire)
- Conferencing (GoToMeeting, Hangouts)
- Is there a ticketing system in use?
- Train remote office employees on process
- Add any required categorization for remote office tickets
Finally, make sure to retroactively add this remote location to all IT strategy and planning documents to ensure that remote offices don’t fall behind the rest of your IT infrastructure or lend to complexity or confusion. Ideally, remote locations won’t be an afterthought or side project, but important pieces of the greater business picture. As the business grows and locations open, monitoring tools can help baseline performance before and continuously monitor after every new site launches. IT teams should have an overview of all the parts of the infrastructure, whether at the main data center or not.