Recently Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced “social distancing” measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus, including advice that anyone that can work from home should do so.
In the last week, we have received a raft of queries from customers and prospects about how best to work remotely.
Below are some of the most common questions we’re being asked and our answers to them. We hope you find it useful.
1. We are planning to ask our team to work from home. But how can we access our Company’s network/computers while working remotely?
Being able to access files and applications that are located at your workplace from a remote workstation is probably the most useful ability anyone can have when needing to work remotely.
The main choices here are either:
Utilise an online remote-control tool, such as LogMeIn. These applications give you the ability to control your office workstation from any computer. To achieve this, you must install the web-application on your workplace device beforehand, by going to https://www.logmein.com/, at which point you’ll be presented with credentials that you’ll want to note down. You can then download the connection application on your home device from the same website and enter the credentials you got earlier to connect and work on your workplace device remotely.
If your Company’s network has the capability, a point-to-site VPN connection is the most secure and versatile way you can connect to your business network from afar. This is something that an IT professional, such as ourselves, would need to set up for you beforehand but once that is done you can easily connect via a simple VPN login application from anywhere with an internet connection.
2. We would like to be able to still have our regular team huddles to ensure we are all on the same page. Also how do we tackle customer meetings?
Though there are alternatives, Microsoft Teams (a part of the Office 365 suite) leads the way for collaborative platforms currently. You can assign as many of your users as you wish to a “Team” and they will gain shared access to files, media, message boards, calendars and conference/video-meeting functionality.
3. How about calls? Can we still make and receive business calls?
You may choose to use your mobile phones whilst working remotely, but this may prove to be quite expensive and perhaps not the most professional option, especially if you use a personal mobile. A far better option and one we recommend is a VoIP telephone system such as 3CX.
With systems like this you can take all the functionality of your business telephone system anywhere with you, including your usual work telephone and extension numbers. The versatility doesn’t stop there either, as you can make and take calls from a remote handset, from your workstation or by using an app’ on your mobile.
The huge range of features and low cost of internet telephony make VoIP Telephony the way to go for businesses in general, but they truly come into their own when working outside of the office.
4. We mostly have desktops and a few laptops. Should we allow employees take their desktops home?
We understand that not all businesses will have issued laptops to team members for home working. Many will have workplace desktops which are not as portable.
What some customers in this situation are doing is allowing team members use personal devices and to connect securely to their Company network using a remote access facility such as those we suggested in our response to question 1 above.
5. Will we continue to receive IT support?
While most IT service providers will be taking reasonable precautions, to protect both their own employees and their client’s well-being, the vast majority of IT support can and is provided remotely, via a combination of telephone and remote access and this should not be affected.
You should expect that onsite support visits will be restricted for a period, but this can be mitigated by using video-call facilities so that the engineer can effectively “see” everything that they need to and can direct a client staff-member that is onsite what to plug in where and so on. Meanwhile, non-critical project work is very likely to be postponed for the time being.
You should also expect that procurement of new hardware and replacement parts will be affected with many of the UKs largest IT suppliers reporting delays with receiving new stock. This is because most electronic devices are imported and sourced from countries where manufacturing has been heavily affected by the outbreak.
We hope that you have found this information useful and if you would like help with preparations for remote working give us a call on 0121 309 0126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to assist.
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About Supreme Systems
Supreme Systems is an information technology company established since 2008.
Leading IT Services provider and Cloud solutions for businesses in West Midlands.
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