Now that the World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus (or Covid-19) a pandemic, businesses need to consider the implications and should have a contingency plan in place to avoid a serious disruption to their day to day operations.

Remote working has been rising in recent years and the Office of National Statistics records 50% of UK employees are likely to be working in some variant of this by the end of the year – It makes sense as there are so many advantages to it – not limited to Increased productivity, improved efficiency, lower overheads and reduced stress.

Our sense is that with sensible thought, planning and preparation working remotely should not be an issue.

Where do we start – A plan!!

 

We have been contacted by many of our customers in recent weeks to review and provide guidance on some of the more technical aspects of business planning.  Whilst it is true that we have seen a very broad spectrum of approaches and varying degrees of preparation – the good news it is never too late to start !!

The government provides some basic steps towards building a plan see here and ACAS provide guidance on homeworking here.

 

The technical considerations … Things to get right

 

  • Hardware

Generally, it’s wise to provide your remote employees with the equipment they need, just as if they were in the office. Not only will they have the necessary tools for their jobs, but you’ll also retain the ability to manage that technology via a centralised IT administrative team.

This rule of thumb applies not only to hardware — such as laptops, desktops or mobile phones — but also to the software those devices use. Software in particular is constantly evolving, so having it centralised will allow your IT team to keep it updated.

For details on what solutions we offer click here.

 

  • Collaboration

There are numerous communication and collaboration tools specifically designed for remote teams. Many of our customers and we at Blue Saffron, use office 365 and in particular Teams, which includes the market-leading office productivity tools such as Excel, PowerPoint, Word and Outlook, alongside more than 30 applications. A strong and solid foundation for many day-to-day business tasks.

For a description of office 365 pls click here.

 

  • Connectivity

Don’t assume workers have adequate online access at home or elsewhere. While many will, some won’t have reliable or fast enough service or only a mobile device. For some workers, be prepared to invest in mobile hot spots and associated data plans and landline based connectivity.

There has been much speculation that a rapid increase in the number of people logging onto work could cause problems for the UKs internet infrastructure – many of these claims are disputed by the network  vendors, most notably, BT Openreach – capacity is built to handle an evening peak at 10 times the typical daily rate.

Broadband connection speeds vary quite widely as do the service level availabilities. Please be aware that some vendors block specific traffic types including some telephony, video conferencing and file sharing applications.

For truly improved resilience and perhaps to protect critical functions and processes transferred from central office a mobile or landline based failover option might be something to consider.

For details on what solutions we offer click here.

 

  • Security

The gap between the desire and reality of remote working often comes down to security fears in keeping company data and networks secure and using personal computers to access work networks could also raise cybersecurity issues for businesses if the devices aren’t kept up to date. It is important that the discipline of ensuring devices are updated with the latest software and patches.

Virtual private network (VPN) solutions, which sits on the PC, laptop, or mobile device and creates an encrypted network connection can make it safer for the remote worker to access IT resources within the organisation and elsewhere on the Internet.

For details on what solutions we offer click here.

 

  • Keep on Talking

Sometimes the poor relation in planning but telephones are still a vital ingredient in many customer and staff interactions. The simple features of being able to divert calls, redirect to remote locations and mobile devices help to provide the transparency and continuity we expect in any modern communication process. We use a variety of services including Gamma Horizon and Microsoft Teams to provide the combination of continuity, flexibility, resilience and disaster recovery.

For details on what solutions we offer click here.

 

Global health emergencies, like Covid-19, are scary, disruptive, and confusing for everyone. And if you plan and nothing happens? Then, at minimum, you have an organised, flexible work disaster response ready the next time there is a challenge to operational continuity.

We at Blue Saffron have expertise in many of the areas mentioned here so please get in touch with any questions or concerns.

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