How to respond to the novel coronavirus and quickly enable collaborative remote access for your workers

In the face of the novel coronavirus, many organizations are considering plans to allow more employees to work from home.  There are several challenges that companies have to address when considering enabling remote access.  Common concerns are:

  • How do we quickly provide devices such as notebook computers to every employee who needs one?
  • How do we make sure the remote access system is easy to use so that employees unfamiliar with working remotely can be successful?
  • How do we make sure our systems remain secure while at the same time allowing employees to access the resources that they need?
  • How do we make sure our employees can access our systems that are deployed on-premise as well as in the cloud?
  • How do we enable our employees to continue to collaborate even though they are all located in different locations?

In years past, many of those concerns were difficult to address.  Today, they can all quickly be addressed, and it’s likely that most companies already have many of the tools required to do so.

Communication, Collaboration, and Office Applications
Many companies are utilizing Office 365 today to provide Microsoft Office for their staff.  If you have Office 365 Premium, you have access to Microsoft Teams.  Teams is a robust collaborative platform that allows access to personal and shared files, video calling, online meetings, and real-time Office application collaboration.

If you don’t have Office Premium, you can still get Teams, and you can do so for free from this Microsoft site:  The free version is limited in capacity and functionality, but still provides all the same core features.

Accessing Line of Business Applications and On-Premise Resources
If you want to provide a consistent Windows 10 desktop experience for your remote users, from which they can access all company resources, both cloud, and on-premise, the best solution available today is Microsoft Virtual Desktop.  Virtual Desktop takes the PC that is typically sitting on a desk at your office and deploys it in the cloud.  And, even though your desktop is now cloud-deployed, it looks and acts just like it is sitting at your desk.  Your same familiar desktop with your same familiar icons is there.  Access to all your applications, files, printers, internet favorites – it’s 100% as capable as the PC sitting at your desk.

One big benefit of Windows Virtual Desktop is that you can access it from anywhere.  So if you’re working from home, you connect to your Windows Virtual Desktop, and you’re looking at the same Windows desktop you log into every day.  You can access Windows Virtual Desktop from nearly every platform that allows you to access the internet, including Windows, Internet Browsers, iOS, Mac, and Android (preview).

The table below shows each of the common remote worker concerns, and how we can quickly address them with current Microsoft technologies and services.



Where to find it

How to get it

Communication (Chat,
Meetings, Video calls

Microsoft Teams

Office 365 Premium License, or free download

Collaboration (work
 together within Microsoft
Office apps, access
personal and shared files

Microsoft Teams

Office 365 Premium License, or free download

Virtual Desktop
(run cloud and on-premise
applications, access cloud
and on-premise resources,
provide a consistent Windows

Microsoft Virtual Desktop

Microsoft 365 License or separate purchase



Security, Devices, and Ease of Use
The remaining concerns from our list above are all also easily addressed.  With regard to security, your systems maintain all the same security as they have when you are working onsite.  This is because you are not widely distributing your systems and data, but rather you are providing secure access to those resources from remote locations.

The devices your workers can use include to securely run these tools, just about anything that can access the internet will work.  This includes most desktops, notebooks, tablets, and mobile phone devices.

In terms of ease of use, it really is just a matter of opening a specific URL and logging into your network.  Having said that, it’s not uncommon for users to require a little help the first time they are utilizing a new procedure.  This is where either your local IT team or companies such as my own, Firespark.IT can assist.  You can contact us via our website, or call us at 425-610-7197.

Deploy Today
Another great aspect of these remote worker tools is that they can be quickly deployed.   Companies like Firespark.IT can assist (full disclosure – I’m the CEO).  You can contact us via our website, or call us at 425-610-7197.

Final Thoughts
More and more, today’s workers are asking for flexible work arrangements.  Making a robust remote access solution that facilitates the same level of productivity as working on site is a win-win for both management and employees.  Although you may be considering a remote access solution to mitigate the risk and impact of the novel coronavirus, this Microsoft solution will provide value to your company for many years to come.