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Mercedes Oliveira

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What to do before re-opening your office
May 11, 2020

Now that the Government has announced further details on what the next stage of the lockdown exit strategy will look like, we’ve started to think about some of the IT issues associated with the ‘unlockdown’.

At this stage, the guidance hasn’t changed too much for office-based workers. If you are able to work from home at the moment, then you should continue to do so.

But, when the time comes for you to re-open your office, here’s what you need to do from an IT perspective:

Internet Speeds
• Your desktop PCs will need to download 2 or 3 months’ worth of Windows Updates – this will slow down your Internet Connection initially and, whilst happening, those PCs will be unprotected from the last 3 months’ worth of vulnerabilities.

• Outlook will need to synchronise the last 2 to 3 months’ of emails. This happens slowly, in the background, so users may wonder where some of their emails have gone – especially if they’ve filed them in folders that haven’t yet synchronised. And, the Search Indexes won’t be up to date – so it could take several days before searching for an email includes all the recent results.

Login / Security problems
• Users might have been forced to change their passwords whilst working from home, maybe as long ago as early March – but their desktop PC still uses the previous password. Users could easily lock themselves out trying the wrong password. Or, just simply, a returning user may have forgotten their password completely.

• Antivirus software might have lost its ‘heartbeat’ connection to the update server, and so never receive the updated signatures.

• Windows Activation may have been reset if the PC hasn’t been turned on and connected to the Internet for several months. A re-activation of the license might be needed.

Social Distancing
• You might need to reposition desks, or move users to different desks, to maintain the Social Distancing guidelines. This could mean moving their Desktops and Screens.

Video Meetings
• We’ve all become very used to Microsoft Teams or Zoom meetings as a way of communicating with customers, suppliers and our colleagues. Just because you’ve re-opened your office, it doesn’t mean that others will too – so the use of Video Meetings will be set to continue for a while.

So, in your office, consider these factors…

o Noise – how will you cope if lots of people are in the open-plan office talking on different Video Calls at the same time?
o Bandwidth – do you have the internet speeds to enable the number of simultaneous video calls taking place?
o Webcams – if people used their own PCs when working from home, do their office-based desktop PCs have webcams?
o Headphones – likewise, do your desktop PCs have headphones and microphones?
o Meeting Rooms – are they enabled for private Video Calls or group Video Calls?

 

Home Working
The ICO (Information Commissioners Office) announced that public health was more important than Data Protection (GDPR) and that they were going to be somewhat lenient during lockdown. But, as the restrictions are lifted, and Homeworking remains, then a lot of the risks will need to be managed.

So, for those of us at home, with a default BT router, or sharing a connection with our kids’ gaming consoles, Sky TV boxes, music streaming devices, Amazon Alexa and wifi-enabled lightbulbs – then these things will need to be addressed.

Proper security, even just to the very basic standards of Cyber Essentials certification, cannot be met with all those consumer devices on the same ‘network’. We’re going to need to make some changes to meet the ICO’s guidelines in a post-lockdown world. We will need to have a further conversation once those have been published.

 

Operations
Think about some of the other areas of your office’s operations that might need attention. We’ve started to draw up our own list – for example, making sure that the taps in the sinks, and the toilets, have all had plenty of water flushed through (to avoid problems with infection caused by stagnant water). Likewise for Coffee Machines and kettles. Checking Air Conditioning will be important – we didn’t need it back in March, but with the warmer weather on its way, we’ll need it soon.

 

If you’re a projectfive customer and you would like to discuss any points raised in this blog, please contact your Account Manager directly and they will be happy to talk this through with you and help make a plan for a safe return to your office.

 

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