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Importance of remote working in the face of snow

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The Met office has this week issued an ‘amber – be prepared’ warning for heavy snow in Yorkshire, the North East and the East Midlands. But what does this mean for business operations?

Some haunting statistics were circulated after the UK’s last bout of heavy snowfall, numbers that have no doubt plagued business owners and management ever since. Small businesses were the worst affected, with 38% forced to close, 41% unable to remain fully-staffed and reported financial losses of around £2.1bn. Snow frequently causes travel chaos in the UK, often rendering roads impassable and public transport useless. And while the office may be up and running, staff being unable to get in can mean that your business grinds to a halt.

There are a number of IT solutions available to businesses that allow staff to continue working productively from the comfort and safety of their homes, in the event of severe weather. These include:

1. Mobility and Remote Working – the ability for your staff to effectively communicate as part of your business telephone system when away from the office makes not being in the office less relevant than ever. IP Telephony enables users to work from home or another office with all the functionality of being at their desk. Staff can use their personal mobiles, home land-line phones, PC based softphones or clients for smart-phones and tablet PCs. IP Telephony service also offer enhanced service continuity through the ability to divert numbers rapidly in the event of a major outage or site incident.

2. Unified Communications – services including instant messaging, presence, collaboration and video provide staff with richer communications that can greatly aid productivity all year round. Remote working users really benefit from UC, with the ability to work more effectively with colleagues across the organisation, regardless of their location.

3. Desktop Virtualisation – this fast growing technology provides users with secure access to their business desktop environment, complete with e-mail, applications and files, from any location. Users can login any PC or tablet via the web and see exactly what they would if sat in the office. All data is held centrally in the provider’s Cloud, avoiding the security risks associated with staff using their own devices.

These services, especially combined, significantly reduce the risk to business operations from adverse weather, with staff able to effectively work from home. To further reduce risk to your business, these services should be delivered from a Cloud provider that has invested in a robust and high availability infrastructure. Cloud removes the dependency on any single site within your organisation, meaning in the event of a major incident like a power cut or even a flood at a data centre or server room, your staff can continue to work to full effect from other sites or at home.

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