Flexible working from home
Some of the things we have done for our company and how we can help your businesses.
Of course, we can help and advise on all matters relating to ICT and in particular how to set up systems and software to enable businesses to continue operating in these difficult times. Below are some of the areas we have been helping clients to enable staff to work from home.
Working from home
While we can help businesses make the best use of all the available technology it’s important for business managers to maintain good employee relationships and motivation.
Occasionally members of our team work from home to meet their personal circumstances and operational practicalities. They have access to all the systems and services required to work for short periods of time, however, working from home for extended periods presents issues.
Team interaction is a key factor, we provide a dynamic support service where customer requests are often resolved through group discussion. Escalation of issues can be very fluid so that a resolution is found as quickly as possible. Of course, group banter and social interaction is another great feature of our time in the office. This all makes for a very enjoyable place to work which could easily be lost if we are not all in the office
Our business is easily suited to allow home working and we have the skills and systems to make that happen. Some businesses though will find it more challenging and while we can help with all the ICT infrastructure, there are all the other business processes that need to be dealt with to properly support employees working from home. Health and safety needs to be considered as well as insurance and the contracts of employment.
Equipment, workspace & internet backup
We have needed to help our team with better equipment and making sure they have a suitable workspace and reasonable working environment for extended home working. Of course, we also need to be sure that they have the co-operation of others who live in the same place and who may also need to work from home. Schools are closing and children will be taking classes remotely therefore home space may be limited during certain times of the day. The internet connection is going to be tested to its full and so we have needed to be sure that everyone has a 4G backup in place.
We all have to accept the fact that, to some extent, productivity may well be affected simply because of the unusual circumstances but in the main, we are very fortunate to have committed and dedicated employees who know they are providing a vital service to our clients. With all the right systems, services and management support in place, we know our team will be able to work in the most effective way possible.
Time for cloud-based technology
All the systems we use are cloud-based and our service desk system keeps track of incoming support requests which everyone has access to. We can all see what work is being done and requests can be escalated and transferred quickly. We have remote monitoring and management of all our client’s systems and support documentation in our secure file system. Our phone system is hosted in the cloud, the main line and support lines are automatically routed to the team. All of which is available to everyone from home or indeed any location with an internet connection.
Relying on Office 365
We use Office 365 to the full and below are details of the range of facilities it has, we are using the following Teams feature to help us work more effectively from home.
- Chat so we can instantly message others in the team asking for advice or information quickly.
- Voice or video conferencing for our daily meetings and other more in-depth conversations.
- Fully shared outlook calendars so we know who is busy and what’s planned.
- Teams meetings with customers so we can have progress meetings remotely.
- Manage projects and collaborate on other work together simultaneously.
- Store and share files securely so we can access documents from anywhere.
Other useful remote working tools
Fortunately, there are now a huge variety of tools and services available to help employees perform their roles effectively from home. Here are some of the ICT considerations we help businesses with to enable staff to work more flexibly and to keep in touch with each other as well as customers and managers.
Flexible VoIP phone systems that can be set up in days. These systems allow calls to be made and taken on mobiles, laptops as well as desk phones. The main lines for enquiries and sales can be redirected in any number of ways.
Very secure connections to your office from anywhere so access to internal systems and information can be made. This typically requires a VPN connection through a firewall and a reliable internet connection. All things we can establish if they are not already in place.
Fluid messaging and shared calendars on mobile devices using Outlook Messaging and Calendar to allow access to email on all devices (including web) so that everyone can check on availability and book virtual and other meetings.
Secure shared files so that documents can be worked on by whoever needs access and allowing simultaneous editing. This reduces the risk of a data security breach and limits the employer’s exposure to the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
New and replacement laptops can be deployed if staff and managers don’t have laptops to take home. Very special security considerations need to be made if home computers are being used because they may not have adequate malware and anti-virus protection. It should be noted that employees may fail to back-up information stored on home PCs and laptops.
Using cloud-based systems and software for your MIS, accounts and other special business applications is a great way to add resilience and flexible working. We offer hosted services in the most secure data centre environments.
Secure cloud backup with encryption to make sure all company information can be restored by using managed retention policies that line up with business needs.
Business continuity and disaster recovery solutions to keep businesses operating in worst-case events.
Engage with collaboration software such as Office 365 which empowers businesses and workers to better productivity.
Microsoft Office 365 is so much more than the office applications of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, SharePoint, OneNote etc. It is a productivity tool that includes Teams which organises contacts, tasks & work into a single workspace, it’s a hub for all your teamwork activities. It allows groups of staff to:
- Store and share files securely
- Work together on documents
- Host, join & manage meetings
- Chat with colleagues
- Use voice or video conferencing
- Have fully shared outlook calendar integration
- Join customer calls
- Connect with others in their workgroup
- Manage projects and other work
- Use a variety of applications
All of this is available on desktops, laptops, browser apps and mobile devices.
Teams can save time when working and collaborating and it allows you to manage projects, resources and activities in one central place. It can make it easier communicate with your co-workers and managers.
Free access to Microsoft Teams
Microsoft is currently offering Teams for free for 6 months so this could be a great time for your business to move to this as a flexible working solution. If this interests, you then please get in touch.
Enhanced security features can be added to an Office 365 tenancy which will allow us to help protect and secure your organization and empower your employees to work in new and flexible ways. It includes:
- Remote wipe of lost or stolen devices
- Restricted copying & saving of company data
- Enforces malware protection and protection against sophisticated threats and ransomware
- Cloud archive and long-term preservation policies to ensure you never lose an email
- Apply security policies and features to protect business data on all your devices
- Automatically install Office and Windows 10 updates
- Litigation hold to ensure all emails are permanently retained
If you need help enabling your business to continue operating in these difficult times, then please contact us.
Call 0333 101 7303 and ask for Paul or Geoff
Flex Information Technology Ltd