Business Continuity and the Coronavirus
With the Coronavirus continuing to spread worldwide, companies are facing a very real challenge – how can you protect your employees and your data, and at the same time make sure that your business keeps functioning and serving its customers?
For some businesses, it will be easier than others. For example, a Professional Services firm (like a solicitor, accountant or graphic designer) can get their people to work from home, if their IT systems enable it.
But a Restaurant, Factory, Museum or MOT Garage will not be able to.
The following advice is aimed at those businesses who are able to let their staff work from home.
Software that enables home working
With many employees working from home, Microsoft have responded to the increased demand for apps that support remote working, by offering a 6-month free trial of the premium version of Microsoft Teams. And, Microsoft will also update the free version of Teams to allow users to schedule meetings for video calling from 10th March.
Microsoft Teams is a brilliant way to stay connected to your colleagues, from wherever you are working. You can share files, chat, work collaboratively and have video or audio conference calls. We have lots of videos on our website about the benefits of using Teams, with instructions that will help you get started – or improve your productivity.
Microsoft Teams is a part of Office365 – which is a wider collection of software tools that also gives you access to Emails, Calendars and documents stored in OneDrive or SharePoint from any computer.
What other technologies can help?
If you have a modern Voice-over-Internet (VoIP) telephone system, then you have even greater flexibility. You can have business calls routed to your mobile, allowing you and your colleagues to continue providing the level of service to your customers that they have come to expect.
Or, with many VoIP systems, you can take your desktop phone home and use it there. But, make sure you check with your IT Department first – there may be other things needed before it will work (for example, your phone may not have a separate power supply, and might rely on something called Power-over-Ethernet – which you won’t have at home!)
What other things do I need to consider?
Do your staff have laptops? If so, then working from home will be easier, as everything will be set up for them.
But, if they have desktops in the office, then how will you approach it? Remember, if your staff take their Desktop home, will they be able to connect it to the Internet? Most Business Desktops won’t have WiFi (you’ll need a direct Ethernet Connection to your home router), and they won’t have Firewalls and other security settings that Laptops have (as desktops are normally protected by your expensive Firewall in the office). So, it isn’t an easy thing to get sorted in an emergency.
So, will you let your staff use their Home PCs to access the data on Office365 instead? If so, then how will you manage the security and privacy on those home devices? Remember, they won’t be part of your secure business network (using Active Directory) and they may not have adequate Anti-Virus, Firewalls or Encryption in place.
And, are those PCs even up-to-date? Some home PCs are using older versions of Microsoft Windows that are no longer secure, as they no longer receives the Security Patches from Microsoft. Windows 7 is a perfect example – as it became end-of-life in January 2020.
Also, if people are going home to work, have you sorted out how their Two-Factor Authentication will work? Remember, Two-Factor Authentication protects your systems from hackers by stopping logins from outside the office without entering the extra 6-digit code – but that might prevent your team from home-working if they haven’t been trained or have the required Authenticator App on their phone.
There’s a lot to consider if your systems aren’t already set up for home-working. Rather than wait until it’s too late, and you’re all in Self-Isolation, make sure you’ve tested things first. Then, if you do need to take precautionary measures to protect your staff from the virus, at least you’ll know they will be productive.
If you’re a projectfive customer and you have any questions about how you can enable your team to work remotely, please give our team a call on 01276 455455.