Is Your Business Ready for Another COVID-19 Lockdown?

Given the rapid rise in cases over the past few weeks, another lockdown was inevitable. Employers and employees alike will now be used to a ‘new normal’ where we are encouraged to work from home. During the last lockdown, we all learned that it is possible for us to maintain a high level of service from anywhere if we have the right tools and work ethic.  However, many businesses found that the transition to remote working did not go smoothly.  Having the right tools in place can significantly mitigate the impact of a coronavirus lockdown by providing tools that allow employees to work more effectively from home.

What tools do you need?

Most desk-based workers will need a productivity suite, email, and a communication and collaboration platform. If you are not familiar with communication and collaboration platforms, they are applications that allow teams to share information, chat, collaborate and attend meetings.

A man talking to his colleagues in an online meeting similar to Microsoft TeamsOne great example of this is Microsoft Teams.  Teams allows your employees to work as if they were working in the same office enabling real-time collaboration, chat, file sharing and video calling, not to mention the masses of apps that you can add to Teams to extend its functionality.  You can even use Teams just like a file server, and if configured this way, there is no need to connect to the office using a VPN.

Other applications that may be required are essential line of business (LOB) applications, and possibly, access to shared files.

What can you do?

So what exactly can you do to enable your employees to work from home?

Email

Email is easy as it has been possible to get email remotely for years. Most email is cloud-based, and even on-premise systems have the facility to connect remotely. If you don’t have this capability, look at something like Office 365 (Exchange Online) or Google G-Suite. There are many providers out there that offer cheaper email services. However, you get what you pay for and most of these are very basic.  I believe there is nothing available on the market today as good as the Google or Microsoft offerings.

Productivity Suite

If you are a Google G Suite customer you will get an online word processor, spreadsheet, presentation app. If you are an Office 365 customer you can use the web-based versions of Word, Excel & PowerPoint or install a copy of Microsoft Office on five computers per user.   This means you don’t need to give your employees a computer to work from home; they can work perfectly well on the home computer.  However, we strongly recommend enabling multi-factor authentication on these solutions and check your security settings, as users home computers will not be as secure as your work computers.

Collaboration Tools

a woman working with a virtual team

During the first lockdown, both Microsoft and Google announced they would temporarily provide Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts for free because of the pandemic.  Having spoken to a contact at Microsoft they are genuinely doing this for the greater good to enable businesses to collaborate in the midst of this outbreak.  Microsoft Teams is an incredibly feature-rich collaboration tool, and although the original offer has ended, there is still a way to get Teams for free.  This is a no-brainer if you do not already have a collaboration tool.

Line of Business Applications

If you have cloud-based line of business applications your users will be able to work remotely in pretty much exactly the same way as they do from the office. However, if the application is installed on a server in your office then you will have to provide a VPN.  A VPN is a secure tunnel that connects directly from a user’s computer to your business.  It is secure, if configured correctly, and provides your employees access to systems within your office.  If the system is a client/server application, users can connect to work PCs using remote desktop and work as they were in the office.  This will prevent the need for users to need to install the software on their home computers, although they will need help setting up the VPN.

Shared Files

If users need access to shared files in your office during lockdown, you can use the VPN method to access them.  However, mapping drives from a home computer to a business server would not be recommended.  Without expensive systems in place, you cannot verify the security of computers you don’t control!  If users require access to shared files, it is best to provide a computer with your security software installed, or ask your IT service provider if they will temporarily bring your users home computers under management so the security posture of these devices can be monitored and controlled.  You could also move to a cloud-based file storage solution.  Both Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 provide cloud file storage solutions that are worth checking out. These are called File Stream and Shared Drives for Google and OneDrive and SharePoint for Microsoft.

Use Voice Over IP Telephones

Using Voice Over IP (VOIP), you can get a landline number over your internet connection.  This offers a huge amount of flexibility as it can be used with a traditional phone, a softphone, or redirected to your mobile phone number meaning your users can have an internal business telephone connection anywhere.  If you use a cloud-based VOIP system, you could even allow employees to take home their desk phone and connect it to their internet connection and voila, they are contactable in the same way as they are in the office.

I hope this article helps you to understand how you can get prepared for any kind of lockdown that may be imposed because of the COVID-19 coronavirus.  If you want to learn how we can help you prepare, please get in touch.

More Content

Laptop on a desk with a picture of a hand holding a globe

Get on top of this now if any of your staff are hybrid working

People are increasingly doing their work remotely and hybrid working has become the new norm. Despite the fact that it has been more than two years since many of us were forced to work from home, too many organisations still do not have the appropriate cyber security...
Logos for Microsoft 365

The Microsoft New Commerce Experience (NCE) is on the way

Microsoft is introducing what it calls a New Commerce Experience (NCE) in 2022, with changes to licensing terms and pricing for Microsoft 365. This will mean fairly big, and potentially expensive, changes for business customers who have Microsoft 365 licences. The...
Blisstech - Top M365 Tools - Blog image

Unlock the Hidden Productivity Gems within Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is a cornerstone for many businesses, but its vast potential often remains untapped. While applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams are widely used, there's a treasure trove of productivity-enhancing tools waiting to be discovered. Embark on...
KEMP Virtual Santa Fun Run Logo

Blisstech Solutions sponsors KEMP’s Virtual Santa Fun Run

In 2020 everything has been different, and the traditional KEMP Hospice Santa Fun Run is no exception.  In a year where so many charity and participation events have been cancelled, it is great to see that this iconic local event is going ahead, albeit in a very...
Logos for Microsoft 365

Migrate to Microsoft 365 manually using PST files

When you are migrating to Microsoft 365 from an existing email provider, you'll want to migrate the emails, contacts and calendar from your users existing mailboxes to their shiny new Microsoft 365 mailboxes.  The best-case scenario is your provider will migrate you...

Tech Tip: Understanding Microsoft work and personal accounts

Welcome to another Blisstech Solutions Tuesday Tech Tip! Have you set up both a personal and work Microsoft account and are now running into problems when you are trying to work as you can't work out which account you are logged in with?  You are not alone and we see...

Tech Tip: How to share files securely in Teams

Welcome to a new Tuesday tech tip video where we will be exploring how to share files securely with people outside of your organisation using Microsoft 365 and Teams. Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool that allows for seamless collaboration and communication within an...

Is your security focusing on the right things?

A new study shows that only a third of businesses place detection as their main priority, while two thirds say prevention is their primary focus.

Tech Tip: How to use Mail Merge

This Tuesday Two Minute Tech-tip shows you how to automate customised emails and letters using Mail Merge. Imagine; you need to send a letter or email to 10s, or even 100s of people with the same base content, but personalised for each recipient. You could manually...

Tech Tip: How to find the tools you need in Micosoft Office

Welcome to a new Tuesday tech tip video, and it's another speedy, but useful one Are you struggling to find the tools you need in Office applications? Me too! Since Microsoft introduced the ribbon in Office applications, it has become harder to find tools that you...
Share This
Contact
Love Lane
Cleobury Mortimer
Shropshire DY14 8PE

01299 382 321
[email protected]
Copyright © 2023 Blisstech Solution Ltd
Registered No: 08125391 VAT No : 307 5490 05