Coronavirus: 5 tips to ensure your business is ready for home working.

Coronavirus (or COVID-19) is continuing to send ripple effects around the world and has now impacted people in more than 40 countries. After a recent rise in cases in the UK, organisations are beginning to plan for an Italy-style lockdown to help prevent the spread of the disease. Big brands are leading the way with this decision, with the likes of Twitter, Google and Sony already closing offices and urging staff to work from home.

Require some assistance in getting set up for remote working? Get in touch >>

While working from home is the suggestion for workplaces amidst the outbreak, it is easier said than done. Employees must still have access to all the right tools, files, software and hardware required to continue working as if they were in the office. Additionally, IT teams must ensure the correct security and compliance policies are in place, to make sure they aren’t at risk to cyber threats by allowing home working.

coronavirus - working from home

The example of Italy shows times is running out, with the number of cases jumping from 300 to 10,000 in just two weeks. If you are yet to enable home working in your organisation, we urge you to take the appropriate steps to ensure you are ready for home working. Below are five tips that will prepare you for this should the disease become established in the UK.

Start planning now

Don’t wait until it becomes mandatory to figure out that you don’t have the necessary tools in place for your employees to continue working outside of the office. Act now and evaluate what software, hardware, information and resources your employees will need.

To limit the pressure on IT teams and senior management, the CEO and founder of Flex+Strategy Group advises that employees should sit down with their manager to outline their daily responsibilities and decide which can be done remotely. Following this, employees should also be prepared to look at what resources they would need to make the home working arrangement work.

“None of this is wasted energy,” she commented. “Right now it’s coronavirus, but it could be something else down the road. It’s worth it to take the time to think these things through.”

Collaboration tools

Effective collaboration and communication are both key in any successful business, even if employees can’t be in the same room as one another. With the uncertainty on how long employees may need to work from home, it is more important than ever to have the right tools so they can stay connected and reduce disruption.

Analysts have said they expect for tools such as Teams, Slack, Zoom and Dropbox to increase. Here at the entrust IT Group, we recommend Teams, Microsoft’s cloud-based team collaboration platform that allows employees to collaborate and communicate wherever they may be working. It integrates seamlessly with the rest of Office 365 and has features that combine meetings, notes and files in various Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications into one singular hub.

Video conferencing is a key feature of Teams which will prove to be an extremely beneficial tool for home working amidst the outbreak as it will allow for face-to-face communication without the risk of disease transmission. You can find out about the main features of Teams and how it works by following this link.

Internet-based calling tools

In business today, there are so many businesses that still only provide their employees with nothing but a desk phone. If these employees are then required to work from home, this can prove to be a problem.

Luckily, with cloud VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), users can make calls using their mobile or even their laptop, as if they were in the office using their desk phone. This works by allowing you to assign numbers to a ‘softphone’ which is a software client installed on your PC or smartphone. Calls made are received via the app, removing the need for you to have any physical phone at all!

Not only will these internet-based calling tools enable home working with ease, but they will also prevent the need for you to invest in additional, expensive hardware because of the outbreak. You can find out more about VoIP telephony by following this link.

Security considerations

Without the right security practices in place, working from home can put you at a significant risk to cyber-attacks. Considering the outbreak of COVID-19 and the inevitability of home working in the future because of this, you can assume cyber criminals may actively target organisations that haven’t put the right security policies in place before allowing employees to work from home.

One option is to get a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which works by extending a private network across a public network so you can access the internet safely and privately. As the connection is encrypted, it means your employees should have the upmost privacy and security when working from home – especially helpful if they are dealing with and transferring sensitive business data.

Furthermore, OneDrive for Business is a secure way for employees to send and transfer sensitive business information. It comes as part of the Office 365 suite and connects employees to their files so they can share and work together from anywhere while ensuring it stays protected. By coupling this with 2FA, working from home can be done effectively and securely.

Hardware and software

Do your employees have devices they could work on at home? If they do, can they access the same tools and data they would be able to if they were in the office?  

It’s very easy to just tell your employees to work from home. However, if they don’t have a laptop or computer to complete their work on, this simply won’t be possible. Here at the entrust IT Group we have many years of experience working with the most leading hardware vendors. Therefore, if to be able to enable home working you need to supply your employees with hardware, we have access to the preferred pricing in comparison to other providers.

Furthermore, your employees may have the hardware, but if they can’t access the required software and data to work effectively then it’s futile. Our Hosted Workspace lifts that same Windows desktop your employees use every day in the office for their work and places it in the cloud, so that it can be accessed securely from anywhere, on any device, providing they have an internet connection. We will take care of all routine IT administration, support, security or maintenance so that you can continue working to provide an excellent service to your customers amidst the outbreak and beyond.

Unfortunately, it seems as if disruption is going to be unavoidable, with the UK government expecting a “very significant expansion” of COVID-19 cases in the UK. By ensuring your workforce is ready for home working, you will avoid the rush should it become mandatory in the near future.

These days, we are lucky as technology has advanced in such a way that there are a number of cloud tools which enable home working to be done easily and securely. For example, by coupling our Hosted Workspace with the popular Office 365 suite and our cloud telephony platform, your employees can continue as usual in an encrypted environment that allows face-to-face communication without the risk of transmitting the disease between one another. All of our cloud services can however be implemented individually, if you find you already have some measures in place that assist with working from home.

While home working may involve making changes or purchasing new equipment, it will be worth it in the long run to ensure the safety of your employees and the running of your business. Please get in touch if any of the options we have discussed are ones you would like to explore.

Contact Us 

Interested in finding out more about the Office 365 suite? Download our FREE White Paper on Microsoft 365 >>

New call-to-action

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts

Posts by Tag

See all