If you’re running a small to medium-sized company in London, you’ll know there’s no such thing as business as usual but one recent event could prove to be more disruptive than we’ve previously experienced: so now’s the time to be getting your business ready for Coronavirus.
Although the UK government hasn’t yet specifically advised all businesses to follow Chevron, Google, J P Morgan and Twitter and ask their staff to adopt remote working in response to Coronavirus, in a recent speech Prime Minister Boris Johnson said enforced home working could be an option if the situation worsened.
The logic is that people working remotely help to keep businesses productive while helping to keep Coronavirus contained.
So with more cases being reported across Britain, the government estimating that up to a fifth of the workforce could be off sick during its peak and the possibility that Coronavirus could become a pandemic, making sure your organisation has a plan in place to maximise business continuity while minimising the potential spread of the disease is now essential.
In this blog post, we’re going to provide you with some guidance on what tools you’ll need in place to enable your people to work effectively, efficiently and securely from home. Below you’ll discover:
- Coronavirus – is your business ready for remote working?
- What the experts say
- Taking remote working to the next level
- Getting ready for remote working
- Coronavirus and your business continuity partner
- Important – Coronavirus latest advice
Getting your business ready for Coronavirus with remote working
When getting your business ready for Coronavirus we think more and more enterprises here in London and the UK will adopt the remote or working from home option, as is already happening in the USA. In fact, recent research reported in the Harvest Business Review in early March, states that nearly 60% of US employers have already indicated that they have either increased their employees’ flexibility for remote working (46%) or plan to (13%).
There’s another factor at play here, too. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK, ‘Employees’ health, safety and well-being during a global health emergency like COVID-19 should be paramount. Employers have a statutory duty of care for people’s health and safety, and to provide a safe place to work.’
What the experts say
Advice to businesses from the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding remote working in response to Coronavirus includes ‘Promote regular teleworking across your organization. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community the health authorities may advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places. Teleworking will help your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.’
In addition, the official guidance from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states ‘For employees who are able to telework, supervisors should encourage employees to telework instead of coming into the workplace until symptoms are completely resolved. Ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple employees who may be able to work from home.’
Please take careful note of that last sentence in the CDC’s advice.
Taking remote working to the next level
Today, in our inter-connected, always on, digitally transformed, mobile device world, many of us can work from wherever we can get WiFi.
What’s more, remote working has already been growing steadily in many small and medium-sized businesses, in many sectors – especially across London where commuting can be expensive and time consuming. But enabling a wholly remote workforce in response to the Coronavirus threat is complex, especially when you consider the need for stringent security and compliance.
Yes, digital tools such as video conferencing and collaboration apps have given us all a great deal of freedom. Yet to allow your people to work from home for who knows how long, you need to think carefully about the technology you’ll need to support them doing so.
Your team will need access to suitably substantial Internet connections and bandwidth as well as access to the programmes and files they’ll need to be able to work on and share with colleagues, clients and external partners. As importantly, they’ll need the right security protocols and technologies to keep your data, IP, IT infrastructure and confidential customer/client information safe and secure.
Getting ready for remote working
If your business decides to (or needs to) ask your people to self-isolate and work from home, you have to ensure you have the right technology and tools in place.
Here are six factors you should consider:
Check that you have the necessary technology, network access and appropriate capable software in place.
Your team needs to have confidence in their Internet Services Providers (ISPs) and be sure that they have a robust, reliable connection with sufficient bandwidth. They will also need an alternative or back-up connection in case their WiFi goes down or connection and availability become an issue.
An alternative to their ISP’s connection at home could be a mobile device that enables them to hotspot an Internet connection wirelessly from a mobile or tablet.
In both cases, do check that your employee has an adequate data plan with their provider.
As your people will probably need to connect to your work server, it may be necessary to set up a virtual private network (VPN) in order to access it.
VPNs are a sound solution when remote access is needed and also tend to be more secure than the alternatives such as accessing your servers from a public place, like a coffee shop.
Teamwork and collaboration drive enterprise. At its best, this is achieved when your people can fully utilise shared assets including data, documents, reports and rich media.
Typically, these assets are created and used within apps and office productivity suites like Microsoft Office 365 or Google’s G Suite, content management systems, intranet, CRM systems and so on.
However, to enable this sharing and collaboration to work successfully, you should ensure your people have access to everything they need via Remote Desktop Services (RDS), which empowers them to take control of a remote or virtual machine over a network connection.
A reliable web or video conferencing tool such as Microsoft Teams is essential to enable your people to hold virtual meetings and keep their projects moving forward.
Please ensure you have robust security procedures in place regarding the use of passwords and passcodes (the latter is especially important for mobile devices) to ensure your IT infrastructure, data, IP and confidential customer information remain safe and secure if or when your people have to work from home.
You can find out more about securing your remote workers and their technology here.
Coronavirus and your business continuity partner
There’s no doubt that Coronavirus has us all deeply concerned and is already having a disruptive impact right across the business world in London and beyond.
But the outbreak does go to prove that every organisation, no matter what their size or sector, needs to develop and put in place sensible contingency and business continuity strategies.
The chances are that if this Coronavirus outbreak becomes more serious, you’re going to have an awful lot to think about and do, let alone having the time or resources to get your IT in the right shape so your people can work efficiently and effectively from home.
So, if you’re seeking an IT support team in London you can trust to help safeguard your remote team and devices until we get the all clear on Coronavirus, why not give the Capital’s go-to tech partner of choice, totality services, a call? We’ve earned Five Star customer service ratings from such renowned names as TrustPilot, Feefo and Google, so please do get in touch for a confidential, no obligation chat about your requirements.
Important – Coronavirus latest advice
This Coronavirus situation is extremely volatile and changing day to day. UK government information on the COVID-19 is updated daily at 14.00 and is available here.