With universities across the country currently transitioning to remote working en masse, unified communications and collaboration are some of the hottest topics out there; topics that AARNet is receiving a lot of questions about. This article aims to provide useful information to help answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these topics and we encourage you to contact us via your Customer Relations representative if you need more assistance and help.
Team communications and collaboration capabilities span from basic and traditional asynchronous messaging (email, forums, team chat) through to real-time synchronous capabilities, including voice, video conferencing, video broadcasting (think webinars) and screen sharing. There are numerous apps out there that provide components for team collaboration or all-in-one solutions, and your organization (much like ours), may actually leverage several of these.
Consider publishing short guides on the tools your organization does have, and the recommendations on which of these to use in different scenarios. For example, do you suggest users stick with Microsoft Teams, Zoom or something else for team-to-team communications, versus external conferencing?
Does your current telephony system allow for remote working?
By now, you have likely already advised your users which video conferencing platform your organization should be using, and how to connect to it, use it, schedule, etc. But can you provide any advanced guidance on good practice for video conferencing, that new users might not yet be across (e.g. mic and camera usage/placement, mute when not speaking, etc.)? I’ve linked to some good articles on this in the Useful Links and Resources section below to get you started.
Now may be a good time to look beyond email for team collaboration, and into some of the tools providing real time and asynchronous team communication capabilities (e.g. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, etc.). These can prove more efficient for certain types of communications supporting remote working.
Is there other guidance you or your organization can provide users on effective communications and team collaboration during this time, e.g. advising users how to best leverage these tools, how to avoid email or multi-communications overload, managing expectations for the organization and teams on the need for patience during moving to remote working?
For Communications and Collaboration, Cloud is key: Whilst remote corporate connectivity is under stress (e.g. RA VPN, as discussed in a previous post), you do not want to be forcing high bandwidth or critical communications traffic through a thin, encrypted tunnel. Wherever possible, preference cloud-based solutions in this domain for business continuity, and/or start moving toward this. g. Office365, Zoom, Slack etc., are all cloud based and allow users to continue to communicate and collaborate when and if corporate remote connectivity is strained or unavailable.
Similarly, if you have heavy ‘source based’ IP addressing rules restricting access to UCC platforms to on-campus wired, wireless or remote access VPN, now is the time to consider relaxing these restrictions (whilst balancing other security requirements of course). Can these still be restricted to known good port ranges, whilst relaxing source IPs, rather than free-for-all access?
Author: Paul Italiano, AARNet Enterprise Services Technical Consultant – Networks
Disclaimer: This is general advice only and is not intended to be address individual circumstances. Each person should conduct their own evaluation of using any product or service.
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