It’s fair to say that Covid-19 is probably the biggest stressor to hit business and society in peacetime. But whereas a decade ago the widespread call to work from home would have resulted in massive disruption and declining productivity, today we are much better positioned to enable availability of our organisations.
Between the growth in agile working and a better preparedness generally following on from years of weather-related events, many organisations already have the remote working solutions in place to support operational continuity. Here’s a quick refresher on the key enablers of seamless, secure and flexible working for anyone looking to establish a clear remote working strategy or improve on what they have.
Ensure the security of your critical systems and data
Take people away from their desk and their corporate log-in and there’s a heightened risk of them operating outside of the corporate firewall safety net. Secure remote access services reintroduce that safety net: they are based on multi-factor authentication VPN technology, which effectively extends a private network across a public network and lets remote users work securely just as if their laptop or smartphone was directly linked to their corporate network.
So imagine a community care worker needing to prepare some urgent case reports that will affect care for vulnerable individuals. Rather than having to delay until their return to the office, they are able to review the relevant files and emails and drill into a couple of databases to be able to quickly collate all the necessary information and respond in a timely manner.
Keep your customers and employees talking
Communication solutions offer a wealth of options here, varying in sophistication, but if you have IP telephony, then at the very least you should be able to redirect your users’ individual landlines to mobile or alternative landlines or allow users to access their voice application via a desktop or mobile device.
Office 365 users can also look at a Microsoft Teams PSTN calling service – this adds the capability of direct PSTN calling to/from your Microsoft Teams environment, which you are already safely logged into. The use of softphones and the availability of all your your contacts make calling out as simple as click to dial.
For those having to manage multiple lines – say, calls into a sales department – then you’re looking at more advanced call centre-type functionality, such as hunt groups and call forwarding. So a sales manager who has only 50% of their staff in the office will have the ability to route calls temporarily away from absentees to those present, ensuring the calls don’t ring out; or they can be forwarded on to those working from home. Granular controls enable very precise handling of calls so that they get routed and answered promptly, or given useful information while ‘on hold’.
Support morale and productivity
No surprise to read that there’s been a huge jump in video conferencing either as face-to-face meetings get cancelled. Ditto the use of instant messaging and file sharing as people naturally look at ways to emulate the immediacy and dynamism they would enjoy in the office or normal working environment
Consider a group of clinicians or local authority staff or housing officers, all who have regular diary slots for critical catch-ups. Do they have to get cancelled? Of course not, a group video conference where screens can be shared, files can be worked on collaboratively, and the whole session recorded and distributed afterwards, is the perfect alternative – with the added bonus of no travelling either, so even more time saved.
We cannot downplay the massive disruption that is going on and some of the implications are out of our control, but we can be looking at ways to lessen the impact and make it so there is no difference in how we are working, only where we are working. People don’t need to be disconnected just distributed. While the working disruptions ensue, remote working solutions are one way of keeping people together while keeping them apart.