So, what are the short-term IT solutions to enable this?
Working with a broad range of businesses, we can safely say, there isn’t a one size fits all approach. Whether you bring people back to the office will depend on many factors beyond just IT planning. Anything you do will need to follow government guidelines for work. But what does this mean for your business and employees, and how can IT Managed Services help?
For a start, you’re unlikely to be able to operate at full capacity within your office for some time. You might well have furloughed staff for whom returning to work could be a daunting prospect.
With this in mind, let’s walk through some of the key considerations as an IT Managed Services provider:
Are ALL your team set up for remote working?
Across the region, thousands of employees are furloughed. With the scheme gradually being withdrawn, how prepared will those employees be for what is now a hybrid of onsite and virtual users?
How ready is your IT support?
You should plan for an increase in IT support queries as you bring more people back to work. Typically, these will include a combination of the following:
Updates: If an employee hasn’t used their computer since the start of the lockdown, they’ll likely require several updates to their operating system, apps and software. Make sure that their line-manager allows for plenty of time to allow for this.
Expired Passwords: Now, this largely depends on a company’s information security policy, but employees may be required to update their passwords regularly, or it could be that they’ve forgotten their password. Either way, you should expect to see calls to IT Support as employees try and gain access.
Telecommunications: Not many businesses can take calls anywhere and on any device. Instead, a hefty combination of auto-attendant messages and call forwarding have typically been used, which will need sorting out. You might decide that now is a good time to put a new system in place.
Is your IT equipment set up correctly for returning employees?
With many users taking equipment home, you might need to think about physically reinventing the workspace, which will require an IT strategy plan. You’ll need to plan for a whole host of things, which we covered in our previous blog on returning to work.
How will the 14-day isolation rules affect operations? If one of your employees or a family member they live with develops Covid-19 symptoms, they will need to self-isolate for 14 days. The chances are, they’ll still want and be able to work. This means you may need to think about additional remote working IT solutions that give every employee the flexibility to work seamlessly in the office and at home.
What about your Medium-Long Term IT strategy plan?
Today’s circumstances have pushed the fast-forward button on flexible home working. Millions of employees are currently working from home, with over 40% of people feeling far more content with life. Likewise, some companies have been pleasantly surprised by the positive benefits.
To make remote working a permanent feature, you’ll need an effective IT strategy plan. One that doesn’t just enable home working but promotes collaboration and increased productivity.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are some of the solutions our clients are already using to toggle between the office and home:
Hosted Virtual Desktop
When working remotely, the hosted virtual desktop allows employees to access their desktop, files, and apps from any device that has a secure internet connection. Staff are able to work on their documents and use the software they usually use to do their job. All documents and changes are saved to the cloud, and so there’s no issues with versioning.
Many SMEs are making far greater use of Microsoft 365 to modernise their workplace. By combining apps such as Office 365, SharePoint and Azure, Microsoft 365 Business brings a new level of confidence. Everything in one place (provided you have the right security and data backup solution too!).
Integrating Microsoft Teams
We’ve all seen the recent adverts for MS Teams, but it can allow for far more flexibility than video conference calling. It enables entire teams to learn, collaborate and share new business ideas in one place.
Making remote access secure
You might want to restrict access to specific software and apps as part of your IT strategy plan. The introduction of enforceable access policies can manage applications, with restrictions across personal and business devices.
Cloud data backup
Many of our existing clients would be lost without the provision of Hyper-V, VMware cloud data backup and replication solutions. One of the most cost-effective cloud back-up solutions we’ve found to be suitable for remote working is Altaro VM, which is both fast and highly-performing.
Blocking malicious connections and preventing malware or phishing attempts has never been more important. With advanced device security, users can be protected wherever they are and without the need to be connected to an office VPN. You can also use the same technology to track and trace employee productivity with web usage and filtering capabilities.
How can Agile Technical Solutions help?
As technology keeps moving forward, so too does remote working. Practical hands-on experience has shown just how valuable IT planning is when it comes to remote working.
Ironically, those Suffolk and Essex businesses that choose to extend their IT infrastructure beyond the office, also lower their ICT costs. There’s a broad range of clever cloud-based technologies that when used together, create a symbiotic home/office workplace.