Your FREE Coronavirus readiness review
As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the UK, companies have started preparing their businesses for remote working. We’re ready, are you?
Since the Coronavirus hit the UK, businesses up and down the country have started requesting that employees work remotely in order to minimise their exposure to the virus and prevent it from spreading amongst their team.
With the number of confirmed cases rising on a daily basis, and the government expecting the outbreak to peak in June, it is vital that you prepare your team to work remotely so they can carry on with their duties while having minimal impact on your business.
In this article, we highlight some of the recommended technologies to implement within your business to allow your staff to continue working from home, while also not affecting their ability to communicate and collaborate with other employees.
We have also included a FREE Coronavirus readiness review that will help you to understand your business’ current standing.
So, what is remote working?
Remote working is an effective business practice that provides your employees with the necessary tools and systems to allow them to work anytime, from anywhere and on almost any device. The amount of businesses providing the facility to work remotely has grown rapidly in recent years and is now estimated that over 1.5 million people work from home in 2020, compared to around 660,000 in 2009.
A number of studies have shown that allowing members of staff to work on the move has improved their productivity. Here is a report from Zapier, they surveyed 900 business throughout the US and the statistics are incredible. While this report was based in the US, the same applies in the UK too. One frightening statistic in this report is that 74% of employees would be willing to leave a job that doesn’t provide remote working, for one that does.
A new law sees compulsory sick pay for self-isolated employees
At its peak, it is predicted that one in five people will contract the Coronavirus. As a result, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson passed emergency legislation that ensures any employee self-isolating because of the Coronavirus will be provided with statutory sick pay.
Bearing this in mind, employers are encouraged to provide the option for any staff to self-isolate if they feel they have been exposed to the virus. As employers you may also wish to provide your team with the best tools to let them work from home, preventing your business from any drops in productivity or having an impact on your operations. Meaning you will benefit from increased productivity, while continuing to pay your employee their usual salary.
For more information and recommendations for employers dealing with the Coronavirus, please use the following links:
What systems and tools will you need to have in place?
Unfortunately, there is no set answer to this question as it varies from business to business. To find out exactly what your business needs, you can contact LMS Group for a FREE, no obligation, call with one of our specialist business consultants.
Alternatively, there are some basic tools that can be implemented quickly and will help the majority of businesses.
The one thing that every business has in common is the need for employees to have access to their data, files, communication tools and systems. Regardless of your business, if your team cannot access what they need,or retain the ability to communicate with customers and suppliers alike, they will not be able to work. But, what do you need?
The first step towards enabling your workforce to operate outside of the office, is ensuring that they have a reliable internet connection. If they don’t have a reliable internet connection, the use of mobile broadband devices such as mobile broadband routers and dongles are quick, cheap and painless to set up. Otherwise, you can use 4G mobile data plans for users that have business mobiles.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
If your business is already hosting it’s essential infrastructure in the cloud, your workforce should be able to access all required files, data and systems. However, if your business still relies on physical, on-premise hardware to host your systems, or if you operate from a secure cloud-based infrastructure or environment, you may have to install a VPN (virtual private network) client on your employees devices so they can have secure access to your corporate network.
One thing to consider with remote VPN access, that’s often overlooked by companies, is the security risks of opening up your corporate network to non-corporate devices. We would always therefore recommend that any remote VPN access is segregated. For instance- if an employee’s home PC was infected with Malware, there’s a risk that the Malware infection could spread over the VPN to the rest of your corporate network; it’s therefore essential that the relevant security measures are put in place before rolling this out to your workforce.
With so many people starting to work from home, it should come as no surprise that hackers have seen an opportunity to steal more sensitive and critical data from businesses. So, ensuring that both your business and employee security measures are up to date and reliable is essential.
Some of the hazards your business could encounter include, unsafe WiFi connections, employees transferring work from a secure business-issued device to their own unmanaged devices that lack the correct security measures and the risks presented by malicious websites through the lack of internet filtering outside of your corporate network. There are a number of simple security methods that can be put in place to improve your security standpoint, such as enforcing multi-factor authentication, having a strong EDR* (endpoint detection and response) system in place that will scan your machine for any malicious files or programs and the use of password managers. Other considerations include Mobile Application Management, enforced Encryption and Conditional Access policies.
*From experience, the best EDR program we can recommend is Webroot. To find out more about this, please contact us
How will your employees communicate with those outside of the business?
Your customers, vendors, partners etc. If you have already implemented VoIP telephony, you will be able to manage your calls and redirect them to mobile devices. VoIP phone systems make calls through the internet and allow you to transfer, answer and make outbound calls from a desktop, laptop, mobile and many more devices. This means that any calls coming into your business will automatically be redirected to the relevant departments.
We operate our own hosted-PBX cloud solution and have over 150 clients already using our VoIP platform. However, if your business is still using a traditional phone system (a box on the wall), now may present the perfect opportunity to ‘ditch the kit’ and take a jump into 2020!
Lastly, you need a method of internal communication. Fortunately, Microsoft have you covered here with their latest tool, Microsoft Teams. This is a singular online or desktop application that features text, audio, media and file based communications. Giving your team the freedom to share information with each other, without having to be in the same office. You can even host team meetings, assign tasks and keep track of work completed. If you already use Office 365, you probably have Teams installed. To make sure you are using it effectively, drop us a call and we’ll happily provide you with some free advice and time on our top-tricks and recommendations to make sure you’re getting the most out of the product.
If you do not use Office 365 at the moment, there is a FREE version of Microsoft Teams available for businesses with up to 300 users. Alternatively, you can also benefit from a 6 month FREE trial of Microsoft Teams that will give you additional functionality over the free version of the software.