Case Study – Back to the Future!
Where do you start and what can you do to start future proofing your business?
The corona virus, and its attendant restrictions, how do you start future proofing your business when the virus has forced all of us to re-assess not only how we live, but also how we work. For some companies, the move to remote working seems to have come out of the blue, although many of the technologies are now well-established. For others, this is perhaps the push that is needed to make the upgrades and changes that may have been proposed for some time. This may be the silver lining to this virus cloud; allowing many companies to find better ways to work towards future proofing their businesses, and for employees to resolve the work-life balance.
Every company will be at a different stage of adaption and adoption, and have different priorities, and available capital. So this article can only broadly address the major considerations. You can scan past any measures you have already taken.
Do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss your own business requirements now and for the future.
For remote workers/teleworkers – Many households may no longer have a landline, and rely entirely on their personal mobile phones, and/or their domestic broadband connection for calls, internet access, emails and so on. Your employees will, rightly, expect to be reimbursed if they have to use their own resources for your company and this can cause a headache for admin and hinder successful remote working if not addressed early on.
DO…. establish what your employees have access to and who is to cover costs before you run into any problems.
Unless your business has issued company mobile phones to your employees, you must expect them to need their mobile phones for other uses too.
DO…. consider the purchase of additional mobile devices for staff, like the CAT B30 basic phone or Rokit Android smart phone or something similar or more advanced if you need more functionality. You will also need a Company SIM card with 4G Broadband (like our Smart Caller SIM Tariff) with these as well for those who need this.
Domestic broadband connections do not enjoy the same Quality of Service, uptime guarantees, bandwidth etc as a commercial leased line, dedicated service or business symmetrical services, and can suffer from peak traffic restrictions, latency, difficult to resolve downtimes etc. Many employees may also be locked down with other family members – partner WFH (working from home), kids trying to keep up with school work or seeking entertainment, etc. This in many cases, especially as the whole country is in the same boat, can put a strain on the broadband networks and the home connection.
DO… find out what type and quality of connection your staff has at home, along with the package such as BT TV, BowTV SkyTV Virgin TV as these pose challenges to the applications your business needs to function well when working from home. Especially important if in a critical role needing reliability, more bandwidth etc. It may be possible to simply upgrade their home package to a business connection. (Remember, this is an outgoing for your business and can be claimed for easily by your accountant).
Many companies are implementing video conferencing for face to face meetings, departmental catch-ups, welfare checks and so on. Be prepared to say Hello to random 3 year olds walking in to these meetings, and be understanding about the commitments that your staff are juggling, and time constraints that they may have e.g. cooking supper, home educating, dog walking and so on.
You may be relying on your employees to have and use their own equipment, especially if your company had to lockdown rapidly, and you had no work from home policies in place previously. You need policies and protocols in place to protect business and consumer data. This is YOUR responsibility as an employer, and you cannot assume that your employees are aware of all the regulations and liabilities that the business will face for insecure transmission and retention of data.
Consider, at the very least: VPNs, anti-virus and malware protection, back-ups, and whether to purchase company-wide licences to protect all of your staff and ensure that ALL software and hardware is installed securely, legally and correctly. Also consider where the data on the apps is stored. Is it in another country? Does it comply with your GDPR processes and Data Protection acts? These are just as important when using video conferencing services.
EQUIPMENT FOR EMPLOYEES
Consider the purchase of business handsets with a company SIM card for staff. Families may only have one laptop between the whole family, and this can cause issues for access for your employee if homework needs to be done, or another family member needs the device. We are all going to be working from home and remotely far more in the future, so consider the purchase of laptops for key staff. The issue of isolation (and lack of virus testing) means that many people are quarantined without actual confirmation of an illness.
Company laptops will also allow staff to borrow a device to work from home in future, once we are past these corona virus lockdowns. Its worth making sure the area your employee is being asked to use as an office (even if its a desk and a chair) at home is covered by business insurance. Your home office is not automatically covered by your employees home insurance and neither will the mobile devices they are using either at home or on the move.
It is impossible to say this sufficient times: You must back-up regularly, especially if the data is being generated by off-site staff. All employees should know how to back-up business data in AT LEAST 2 ways (e.g. online and offline/off-site) and automated systems need to be regularly checked that the back-up data will be usable, if required and again, the process should comply with your GDPR and Data Protection Act processes and procedures to be relevant.
As we have mentioned previously, and as is being shown on the news, companies, government and individuals have become au fait with video conferencing tools recently. However, although Zoom may suddenly be the buzzword for even Cabinet meetings, we strongly advise that you consider which tool you use for this job, especially if business critical. Its important you know what apps are being used and where any of your data is being stored as you don’t want to find out that is being stored on some foreign servers when your GDPR security policy promotes the idea all your DATA is stored in UK servers! If your company shares sensitive data, or is competitive in the global marketplace, you do NOT want your data being accidentally or deliberately routed through foreign states, nor for your meetings to be hackable by unwanted parties and content.
Many companies have been using online collaboration tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and so on, for quite some time. There are many excellent tutorials for using these tools already and integrating these into your usual workflow, accountancy and more.
ALL OF THE ABOVE
If you have any questions about how to improve your business operations, future proofing it, efficiency, remote working processes, cybersecurity protocols, and keep your telecoms costs down, do not hesitate to call Express Telephony.