The UK has been in lockdown from the Covid-19 pandemic since the 23rd March, making this the 13th week (at time of writing) and the signs are that the lockdown is easing and businesses that haven’t been able to trade their way through the pandemic are now beginning to reopen.
The entire working landscape has changed with businesses adapting to their workforce working from home and embracing collaborative tools and video-conferencing software to ensure continuity. There are concerns and a potential risk of a ‘second wave’ of the virus as people begin to leave the lockdown and unfortunately, a percentage of people failing to adhere to the ongoing social-distancing measures or the wearing of appropriate PPE.
There are a number of key ways that businesses have adapted during the past few months and all businesses should ensure that they and their teams are fully equipped and ready to trade. We’ve listed what we think are the key tools to use, not only during a lockdown, but at any time as the ‘new’ way of working continues:
Productivity & Collaboration Tools
A number of technology/digital companies have long been advocates of online collaboration tools to ensure their work continues remotely.
At 5 Rings, we are regular users of the Office 365 suite and have been using Microsoft Teams to run daily meetings and discussions between colleagues and departments – even our bi-weekly quiz is held on Teams! Our Digital Marketing department are also big advocates of a number of collaboration tools, such as Asana and Slack to collaborate and schedule workload.
Yeah, of course it’s important to ensure your phone system is flexible and cloud-based. Having a single, on-premise phone is just not feasable in the current climate as customers and clients will still appreciate phone contact or to discuss work.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocal) systems can be deployed and setup in minutes. All done remotely, through the cloud, with no hardware needed – we are biased being we offer that as a core service, but you really will notice the difference and embrace the current standard in telephony. Microsoft Teams also integrates with our VoIP systems, meaning greater connectivity with your phone system as well as your internal collaboration systems.
Before the lockdown, many SME’s were still utilising on-site or local storage for their emails, documents etc and found an issue with storing their work when not in the office. This is partly down to not having a reliable cloud-based server and additionally, a certain amount of distrust. In this current climate, a secure, cloud-based server or storage solution is one of the most important things you can have to run your business effectively. Cloud storage can masquerade in many forms – from simple desktop programs like Dropbox, or utilising storage through OneDrive or Google Drive. These are to deploy and can save you lots of time and stress, leaving you to concentrate on the important things – like running your business.
Remember the days of having paperwork everywhere, files and folders cluttering up the office? Well for some it is a necessity but many have now switched their business to be almost entirely paperless. For businesses that have to be security and conscious of confidentiality, many online solutions are GDPR compliant, with Cyber Essentials & ISO27001 accreditations, so you know your documents are secure. Additional functions such as revision history and the ability for multiple people to work on a document means your business becomes clearer of paperwork but doesn’t lose the security or collaborative aspects of a paper-filled world. For this, we recommend using Microsoft SharePoint, which comes with the Office 365 suite.
If you have anything stored digitally, it’s imperative you have an online backup. Automated online backup solutions can backup all data critical to a business. There are many solutions available to use, some of which integrate into Office 365. Having an online backup This secures all your emails, contacts and documents and protects you should there be an issue and you suffer any data loss, which can be crippling to a business.
The additional benefit to an online backup is availability; if you are able to return to the office you can access the documents you saved when working at home with no disruption – and vice versa!
And one of massive importance…
Most people will already have this (or if using a company machine, their IT team will have ensured it does) but having a solid anti-virus solution on your IT network really is crucial. Working from home tends to be less secure than an office internet system and if people combine using their devices for both business and personal use, should a device become compromised by a virus this not only causes problems for the user, but for their company too as the virus can then spread easily to a connected server, putting any other users at risk. There’s a virus risk outside at the moment, don’t risk your IT network inside too!
At 5 Rings, we provide services for all the above so you can count on us to be your one point of call to ensure you are working safely and effectively, wherever you are. If you need any of the above, or would just like to discuss your current setup and ways to improve it, then give us a call on 0333 2200 555 or fill out the form at the bottom of this page and one of our team will call you back.