Connectivity for remote working
Having enough internet capacity to access digital tools and connect to work is important for remote working. Organisations may require virtual private networks or cloud-based networks.
Internet access, bandwidth and data use for workers
Work is being done across the public and private sectors to increase connectivity for all New Zealanders. At an organisational level, keep in mind that some workers may not have an internet connection or a connection of sufficient quality to work from home.
Working remotely can require a lot of bandwidth, especially if people are collaborating on documents or using an organisation’s virtual private network (VPN). VPN software creates a tunnel between a remote computer and the organisation’s network.
Organisations should consider what technical advice they can provide to their workforce to boost their bandwidth. If staff are experiencing problems with the performance of their internet connection, they may need an upgrade on their account or an alternative, such as a 4G modem.
Organisations should also be aware that not all workers will have access to the internet at the level of speed and reliability that may be required for working from home.
People working from home will most likely use more data than they would normally. It may be important for managers and staff to understand how much data remote workers can use without additional cost, from household accounts or from a work device.
Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission (PSC) provides guidance on the provision of remote working equipment. Their guidance relates to employee requests to work remotely, rather than employer-required remote working (such as during the COVID-19 response). Employer-required remote working is not flexible work.
Network capacity for organisations
A VPN provides an encrypted connection over the internet from a device through a network to an organisation’s network where it is decrypted. This helps ensure that sensitive data is safely transmitted.
However, because all work traffic passes through the VPN there can be connectivity ‘bottlenecks’ where there is a high level of remote working.
A cloud-based network is an alternative to VPN that allows users to securely access enterprise applications and resources from outside the corporate network. This can avoid the connectivity ‘bottlenecks’ and vulnerabilities experienced by agencies with on-premises VPN infrastructure. A small number of public service organisations have these networks in place.
Organisations need to consider which network solutions and vendors can support the demand for remote working whether as part of everyday business or in response to an incident. Some may need both VPN and cloud capability concurrently.
Ready for remote following an incident — connectivity
The requirements for remote connectivity to agency networks may vary considerably between the times when agencies are operating in a business as usual (BAU) mode, and the times when business continuity plans are invoked.
To support surge connectivity, organisations can:
- have contracts with providers that can expand network capacity to accommodate more users when required
- reconfigure their VPN from forced tunnel to inverse split tunnel architecture
- actively manage user demand, for example creating roster systems for connected working
- actively manage network access, for example, prioritising connectivity to particular job functions.
Specialist help is available
Telecommunications as a Service (TaaS) makes it easier for government organisations to easily and securely connect with each other and their customers. The development of TaaS was based on the current trends of increasingly mobile workers, cloud-based applications and the use of a wide range of devices.