Working from home has now become a way of life for around half of the British workforce, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Employers are preparing for a hybrid work environment that is likely to be here to stay, with 50% of UK respondents in a Cisco survey of 3000 IT decision makers stating that more than half of their workforce will continue to be remote workers in the future. In March 2020, employers were quick to make sure the health, safety and wellbeing bases were covered by supporting their people through tactics including regular news bulletins, wellness packs and online social events, not all were as quick to put the right technology tools in place. When staff have the right equipment needed to work from home they are more effective, and less prone to the extra stress caused by a change to their usual work environment and circumstances.

Cloud

A large proportion of organisations quickly increased their level of cloud adoption as the pandemic took hold. This made the switch to giving staff any time, anywhere access to the systems, tools and information they could expect in their usual office environment much smoother. It also supported intelligent and responsive unified communications (UC) platforms, bringing together voice, video, personal and team messaging, voicemail, and content sharing to promote a smooth and easy flow of communication.

Security

With many families using the home broadband connection, the security risk was instantly elevated to high. One of the safest ways to protect your business systems and data is to make sure staff are connected via a secure virtual private network. A VPN coupled with a two factor authentication product allows users to securely access all their usual IT systems and data by creating an encrypted network connection, and then the users authenticate themselves and the device, encrypting data in transit between the user and whatever services they are accessing.

Collaboration tools

Cloud also supports a wide range of collaborative tools for sharing and saving documents and files, to make sure all the information people are using is delivered in real time, removing the need to email information around the team for comments and amends. Having live information to work with prevents wasted time, increases efficiency and reduces uncertainty.

Video conferencing

There cannot be many people who are not familiar with some type of video conferencing platform by now, even if they did originally need to rope in a digital native in the house to help them get started. Business users have flocked to the market leaders Microsoft’s Teams, and Cisco’s Webex, while others have used free software such as Zoom and WhatsApp. As cyber security experts we would stress that while some of the widely used free tools are useful for the consumer, they can bring with them security issues.

Headsets

Customers expect seamless, high quality sound when talking to your staff, and bad audio is bad business. Headsets with noise cancelling features allow people to communicate clearly in any remote sound environment and to fully concentrate, especially if they are working from an area that the rest of the family use, such as a dining room or kitchen. Headsets such as the EPOS Sennheiser deliver excellent communication experiences with comfortable headsets that deliver rich, natural sound and clear speech. Investing in high quality headsets is a good move for your staff and your customers. Tech support Your people need reassurance they have a continuing level of tech support, wherever they are working from. Back in Spring 2020 our own technical support desk saw a 30% uplift in the number of incidents logged, until users got to grips with the new way of working. As the pandemic progressed and working remotely became standard, some employers opted to create an IT helpdesk portal for basic first line support, backed up by expert support staff on hand remotely via email, phone and video. Sometimes only face to face (socially distanced of course) will do. We supply services key to critical national infrastructure so our own field and service engineers have continued to make site visits when it is necessary and safe to do so. We carry out pre-visit checks and only visit sites once they have passed those checks and comply with the government guidelines to keep everyone safe. Talk to our experts Whatever your working environment currently looks like, make sure your people have the right systems, support and technology in place.

Talk to our unified communications team to maintain productivity and keep the wheels of your business turning smoothly.