With the ongoing global crisis with Covid 19, I wanted to write a post to reassure readers, and help provide a plan to move your employees to working from home.
Firstly don’t panic, have a plan:
- You can use technology to your advantage to respond to the current crisis.
- Understand the capabilities of your current IT systems before you make business plans.
- Make your business plans for homeworking so they fit comfortably within the capabilities of your systems. You don’t have time to make major system changes without compromising reliability.
- Plan ahead, and be ready, so you are not rushing to react when national guidance changes.
- Don’t rush to make large changes to working practices before guidance changes – otherwise, you may spend time planning and implementing the wrong things.
What are the main things to consider?
We consistently say to our customers that the technology you need to run a successful business are:
- A good quality internet connection
- A high-speed business grade wired and wireless network
- Commodity services in the cloud
- Sometimes onsite or cloud server infrastructure.
- Supported by a well thought out data privacy and security policies and procedures
We call these the building blocks, and they are no different whether you are sat in the office at work, or are working remotely from home.
I will take you through each one and the things you need to consider for working from home:
1. A good quality internet connection
- Check that your business connectivity has capacity for both office & homeworking – staff accessing systems at the office from offsite locations are competing for bandwidth with your office-based workers (and each other).
- Check the speed of all your connections using: Speedtest.net Do this at the office and ask all employees to test too.
- Remember that staff working at home may be working on slow, unreliable or consumer-grade internet connections – check that these are fast enough and can support business usage such as VPN.
We can help you consider other broadband options, including mobile broadband.
A Virtual private network creates a secure connection from an offsite computer back to your office network, and allows offsite users to connect to files and services on your in-house systems.
Cisco are offering free temporary VPN licenses for some products – talk to us if you would like more information.
A VPN is straightforward to set up so please contact us if you need help with this.
3. Commodity services in the cloud
For users who are already using cloud services, such as Office 365, Xero, Quickbooks Online, CRM etc, you can access these services securely from any location.
4. Server infrastructure
- Check that your data backups will continue to work if staff cannot access the office, and that someone has responsibility for monitoring them.
- Do you have enough spare server capacity if you need to offer remote access to workers who are now based off site?
5. Collaboration tools
There are some excellent collaboration tools available, and as a Microsoft partner we use Microsoft 365. This gives us:
- email through office 365
- sharepoint and one note – allowing us to collaborate on documents and maintain version control
- Teams for chat, meeting & voice.
This allows us to work collaboratively with our colleagues, even if we are all in seperate locations, allowing increased productivity, reduced cost & enhanced security.
Our Principal Consultant, James, ran a short webinar on “Getting Modern” with Windows 10 & Office 365 and can be accessed here
6. Hardware availability
Worldwide supply chains are under pressure right now, and there is now a shortage of laptops in the UK market.
Where distributors do have stock, prices are increasing rapidly, so if this is a consideration, do get in touch, as the prices are only going to go up.
7. Data Privacy and Security
Unfortunately cyber criminals are taking advantage of the Covid-19 crisis, and are using it as an opportunity to infiltrate systems. In these uncertain times it is as important as ever to have tight data privacy and security measures in place:
- Ensure your company has a procedure to remote access files using tools such as sharepoint and one note. Discourage workers copying files onto their laptops or home PCs, because you then don’t know where your customer information is being stored.
- If you’re allowing staff to access customer information on personal devices, such as mobile phones, consider setting device management policies.
- Have a policy on taking customer data off site, and keeping track of where that data is being stored.
We are committed to helping businesses across the UK and globally to respond to the current crisis.
These important recommendations will allow your key personnel to work from home reliably and securely.
The current crisis presents an opportunity to put the right systems and processes in place to make your business more resilient and able to deal with this and future crises.
Contact us today to discuss your plans for the current crisis and how we can help you respond.
If you feel anyone may benefit from the advice in this blog then please also share and comment with your thoughts