Introduction

Virtual Office, Virtual Data Center

Virtual Office, Virtual Data Center

illustration of woman working at a laptop, with icons indicating she is using various virtual tools

Virtual Office, Virtual Data Center

QIP has operated a virtual office for 16 years, so 2020 shutdowns were minimally disruptive to our standard operating procedures and business.

A great example of the effectiveness of our secure, efficient virtual workplace is the service our remote information technology (IT) team delivers to a cloud-based data center at a federal research and statistical agency.

The QIP IT team’s routine operations are secure, flexible, and reliable, allowing them to keep work moving even in the face of a global pandemic.

Security is crucial, and our team is accustomed to working remotely in a secure way, following government guidelines, said QIP IT Director Ryan Heitz. In addition to using the client’s virtual private networks (VPNs) and personnel identification verification (PIV) cards, the IT team does not communicate about any sensitive information over unsecure connections, such as email. They are familiar with all federal guidelines about security.

Additionally, working remotely offers our team schedule flexibility so, in addition to their regular workday, they are available outside regular business hours for work, such as system security updates, that can’t be done during the day.

“For any sort of cyber security incident, such as an attempted attack, we are all hands on deck,” said Sam Mirzaei, Computer & Information System Manager. “Working in a virtual office means that even with our small team, we react quickly and effectively to investigate and resolve or remediate any issues related to cybersecurity incidents.”

The QIP team also is responsible for user support for the client, including questions and requests from government staff and government contractors. For that, our team runs a remote help desk, relying on email, phone calls, and a change management system to ensure that any user support questions or issues that come in are assigned and triaged promptly.

Part of being a reliable and responsive team is using the right tools. Amazon Web Services (AWS) guarantees the servers and storage will be running 99.99 percent of the time, and in more than eight years, the QIP IT team has never run into an issue. Additionally, our team uses business-level support with AWS, so that we are guaranteed a response time of less than an hour should the system go down.

“QIP being a virtual company when the pandemic hit, we had already been working remotely full-time for at least five years, so it was a seamless transition,” Heitz said. “We’ve already had years of experience working remotely as a team, so there was really no adjustment needed.”

Being comfortable with a virtual office was a benefit no one saw coming. QIP staff already were familiar with chat tools and video meetings, so we could lead by example when the pandemic hit and clients now were working from home for the first time. Our staff had no fear about being out of the office. Clients could see that we already were used to functioning virtually and were adept at it. We could offer both help with tools and encouragement.

After all, QIP is about quality, delivering high-quality service and cost efficiencies to our clients. Our virtual office setting is one of the ways we’ve structured our operations to be successful and cost-efficient for our clients before, during, and after a pandemic.

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