Microsoft Shares Top 9 Ways to Enable Remote Work

As COVID-19 cases continued to spread around the world, millions of people moved to remote work. In a series of blog posts, Microsoft shares first-hand experience on how to enable remote work for business. The global company, which has a large workforce, enlisted the top 9 ways to ensure every employee has the tools, resources, and solutions to be as productive, creative, and secure as possible—working from any location and on any device. Microsoft advises to keep in mind that every company is at a different stage of their journey to the cloud and every IT leader, who is going to read this, needs to define the priorities to enable productivity from anywhere across their organization’s workforce.

1. User identity and access

It all starts with managing identities. Microsoft has a hybrid environment that helps the company both retain and expand existing systems while using a cloud-based control plane to enable people to work productively and securely. Whether they are an employee, partner, or supplier, every user who needs to access the corporate network receives a primary account synced to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).


2. Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

MFA is required to access any corporate resource at Microsoft. When a user connects remotely to the company’s domain using their work credentials on a device that Microsoft manages, MFA is almost transparent.


3. Managing devices

With more employees working remotely and across devices (including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android), it’s important for every organization to support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) scenarios. Microsoft offers self-service enrollment so users can quickly and easily join Azure AD and enroll in Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM) to access company resources. Once enrolled, MEM then applies appropriate policies, for example, to ensure that a device is encrypted with a strong password and has certificates for access to things like Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and WiFi.


4. Productivity applications

With this foundation in place, Microsoft is driving their employees to work in the cloud. This is particularly important for such a large population of information workers working remotely. Microsoft 365 enables users to access resources and share files with Office apps across the web, mobile, and desktop, storing their content in the cloud by default. Outlook mobile, Microsoft Teams, and OneDrive are deployed on the company’s corporate devices, so people can access their emails, calendars, and files within File Explorer on Windows, Finder on Mac, and Office Apps on mobile devices. The multinational technology corporation made it easy for users to save their files to OneDrive the same way they traditionally saved files to their C: drive; this has been key to getting files to the cloud. The users are also able to do real-time coauthoring and commenting in documents in the cloud, which has proved extremely useful for a distributed workforce.


5. Meetings and collaboration

All Microsoft’s employees use Teams daily for chat, meetings, calls, and collaboration. That is how they have been able to stay productive because they are accustomed to a digital workspace.


6. Access to line of business (LOB) applications

Microsoft has migrated most of its legacy applications to the cloud. But even with most applications accessible in the cloud, some still require VPN.


7. Service monitoring

With the increased load and usage from so many people working remotely, service monitoring has proven crucial to making sure everything is operating as it should. The global technology corporation carefully monitors application and network performance and builds product telemetry monitoring into every solution so that it can check reporting for user satisfaction metrics and changes to service behavior.


8. Culture and change management

Remote work can create challenges to maintaining a healthy work culture and managing change. Modern social and engagement platforms can help make sure messages are heard, leadership is visible, and best practices are shared. In Microsoft, Satya Nadella and other executives connect with the organization using live events and Yammer.


9. Designing for specific roles

A lot of the resources mentioned here benefit information workers most. It makes sense, Microsoft has a lot of those. But it’s crucial to connect other employees so that they are equipped with the knowledge to take appropriate steps for themselves, customers, and the community.

“Enabling a team to work remotely is an ongoing challenge, and we get that this challenge is different for every organization. I hope that reading about our approach has been useful to you,” says Nathalie D’Hers, General Manager of End User Services Engineering at Microsoft.