There are no two ways about it – we’re all facing a lengthy period of remote working. But that doesn’t necessarily mean productivity has to fall. Since before the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK, we’ve been supplying customers with a range of solutions to allow home working in line with government guidelines, ranging from the very simple to the very complex.
Here, we briefly outline some of the issues faced by customers from the education, business and media and entertainment industries, and how we’ve solved them. If you have a question about remote working, however unique, do get in touch with the team.
Q: “How can university teachers and students use editing software when not on campus?”
A: Having the right software tools when you need them is a big concern in these days of lockdown. Luckily, many editing solutions – whether it’s pro graphics, audio or video production and post – are now available in the cloud or on multiple machines. For example, Adobe Creative Cloud can be accessed in the cloud from a second device at home.
We recently helped a university transition their Avid Media Composer licences from their server to individual student and teacher notebooks so they could carry on editing video while not on campus. We also set up EditShare Flow with remote access at another university, so teaching staff and students could access footage from home.
Q: “What free tools are available for schools and universities?”
A: One plus that’s come from the lockdown has been that many companies are making their premium software free for a period. If your school or university uses Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe are offering temporary licences for students and faculty to use at home, at no additional cost. This is great news for students at critical exam times, who’ll be able to continue their learning remotely with less disruption.
Avid are another key name providing free short term solutions. Users who are unable to access their facility-based systems due to the impact of the virus can receive free 90-day licences of Media Composer | Ultimate, Pro Tools or Pro Tools | Ultimate, or Sibelius | Ultimate. There are also loads of communication and productivity solutions available free for a period you can take advantage of – from 3CX remote calls to remote working tools like Teradici’s cloud access software. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourites in this article.
Q: “What are the best devices for remote learning?”
A: Naturally, we recommend the Apple ecosystem for learning at all times, not just in times of lockdown. The latest 10.2” iPad is ideal for connecting to all your essential teaching and learning apps from anywhere, while adding Apple Pencil and a Smart Keyboard ensures students can be as creative and productive as possible, just as they would with a desktop computer. MacBook Air is a very popular option with our school customers, as they’re powerful enough to easily use productivity favourites like the Microsoft Office suite and Apple’s own app range like Schoolwork for planning lessons and creating resources, while also being incredibly portable.
Other devices and peripherals you might want to think about include dedicated monitors, keyboards and mice, which allow you to work more comfortably if you’re chained to the desk or dining table all day. In this article, we round up some more of our recommended devices for remote learning.
Q: “How can I make sure employees have the tools they need?”
A: During this time, many businesses needed ready stock of mobile devices and office equipment very quickly, to ensure they could let their employees work from home and not suffer any downtime. With a huge stockholding at our central warehouse, we’re able to get companies the devices they need to keep their business running at the drop of a hat. We have provided large shipments of both Mac and Windows computers to some of the UK’s largest businesses, as well as delivering monitors and other key peripherals directly to employees’ homes to maximise productivity as well as promote a more comfortable working environment.
Q: “How can employees get access to company servers from home?”
A:The most common method of remote access is via a virtual private network (VPN) connection to a firewall. A solution like Cisco AnyConnect allows users to connect to on-premises servers and services which can’t be accessed via a web browser. We can attest to its ease of use and stability as this is what we use at Jigsaw24 for everyone from marketing to sales to connect to the documents they need. And we can help you get set up with your own VPN. We assisted one customer (an architectural firm) by setting up a VPN for 15 of their users by running a VPN server from their Synology storage. This allowed connection of all their Windows and Mac devices, as well as senior associates’ iPads.
Q: “How do we manage our devices with users all working from home?”
A: With the tools made available from Jamf, both its Pro and Now+ offerings, we’ve been working with a number of businesses to onboard and enrol their now remote estate to allow for complete management of application/OS updates and ensuring that devices stay secure and compliant without an IT technician having to be present at each of their homes. We provide a complete remote end to end engagement which includes: remote Jamf Jumpstart training for IT teams; remote professional services for the design and delivery of onboarding workflows, security compliance and patch management MDM functions; remote tech bar to enrol and onboard users into Jamf Pro.
Q: “How can we provide remote editing access?”
A: As luck would have, it we’ve been supplying hardware and software remote desktop enablement to customers for years. All they had to do in the recent weeks was send editors home with their hardware zero clients and they’ve been able to access their editing workstations just like they did when they were in the building with them. KVM over IP – specifically Amulet Hotkey’s Teradici PCoIP based hardware – has been our solution for in house KVMs for five years or so. The fantastic thing about it is that it works over distance when needed, too. Although software hosts and software clients work OK, the additional grunt of a hardware accelerated solution is best for creative endeavour.
Q: “How can we make sure editors are able to work together?”
A: One thing that’s really being put to the test during the lockdown is how editors are collaborating on video projects, and there are a few solutions that we would really recommend. The promotions department of one of our broadcast customers uses Avid MediaCentral Cloud UX and MediaCentral Production Management to enable teams from across multiple continents to work together to create short form promotional material on Media Composer, enhanced with Pro Tools. Users connect to the London-based system via VPN and use Avid MediaCentral Cloud UX to augment the workflow. Web browser based participants contribute to the production work before during and after Media Composer based edit and finish work.
Up to ten iterations of Media Composer Cloud VM Option run from on-premises servers with Teradici technology to allow remote editors access to the full toolset of Media Composer from their home offices. Root6 Technology Content Agent and Telestream Vantage are used to ingest material into the system using Avid NEXIS as the central shared storage for the online media data, which is then available for both video and audio edit work as required.
Q: “How can we access key assets from home?”
A: In times of lockdown, broadcast companies still need to be up and running with easy access to all their assets. EditShare have long been one of our key vendors for remote access solutions, and we have configured a number of EditShare customers with AirFlow access.
Ideally over a VPN, users and clients can log in to the on-premises Editshare estate and use AirFlow to browse, log, sub-clip and shot list their assets. They can also remotely download proxy media or high res assets to their system via EditShare Flow, to cut in their NLE of choice and re-upload a flattened file or AAF/XML. If you open ports for Flow Story (EditShare’s collaborative content creation app), this will work with the proxies if you have a robust enough connection back to base. As mentioned previously, EditShare are currently offering free licences of Flow for the time being, and we can help set this up on users’ storage.
So, plenty of solutions to provide remote access and remote working from home, whether you’re teaching English or working on complex video projects. We’ve been providing remote solutions to our customers for years, and can help get you set up and keep on working, whatever size your business, facility or institution. It may seem the world has stopped turning, but with the right system in place, there’s no reason your work should suffer.
Want to discuss remote working? Fill in the form and one of our team will be happy to help.
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