In March 2020 most businesses immediately employed a Remote Working Business Continuity policy for the majority of their staff as a reaction to the Coronavirus COVID19 dictate from the U.K Government. Business Continuity Solutions Southampton
The Remote Working and Business Shut Down Advice was implemented to slow the spread of the Coronavirus COVD19 and allow the NHS to manage the disease without overwhelming the NHS with lots of sick and dying patients
A large number of businesses already had in place for some time, some kind of Remote Working Business Continuity Solution for key members of staff, so were familiar with the framework for Remote Working and Business Continuity Solutions Southampton
Although no business had ever conceived prior to this, that all of their staff might have to work remotely in a business continuity scenario, and how their business might facilitate this or manage this Business Continuity Solutions scenario. Or indeed if this remote working business continuity plan could work for their business
What kind of Remote Working Business Continuity Systems do other business have
There are many different industry types over wide range of different business styles we look after and each business has their own market niche and business priorities, although there are certain common I.T system elements that will make your Business Continuity more robust and more able to survive a remote working business continuity event
A good office Internet connection will often be one of the primary deciding factors on whether your staff can work from home or whether it will only support a very small number of staff concurrently connected remotely
There are generally a wide range of business Internet connectivity options available, no matter where your business is situated and physically located, and it is unlikely unless you are a small business with a small number of remote workers that a ordinary fibre broadband connection will be sufficient
Broadband upgrades or indeed new broadband connections rarely can be immediately implemented and made operational immediately due to the number of third parties involved in getting a new connection to your business premises. Therefore, it is paramount that this key element of your business is operational long before you have a business continuity requirement
Flexible Phone System
Most modern office business telephone systems are VoIP based, meaning that they are generally quite flexible, and traffic for the VoIP phone system will transmit across computer networks and the internet, rather than just the traditional PSTN or ISDN fixed phone line telephone networks
Often a modern business telephone system is likely to be hosted on the internet, which means you can usually take your desk phone home with you and it will still work
Although there are generally some additional considerations to look into, for example, who is your broadband provider at home, do they allow VoIP traffic, and indeed is your home internet connection quick enough for VoIP telephone calls. Also don't underestimate what impact your family can have whilst all trying to share your home internet connection.
If you have a modern VoIP office telephone system, then you are in a good place to maintain some sort of business continuity plan
A Virtual Private Network will allow your staff to securely connect to your office through an encrypted and secure tunnel from their remote computer to enable Remote Working
Firewalls and VPNs are not natively secure 'out of the box' and are only deemed secure if properly setup, so if your VPN security hasn't been checked, get your IT Service Provider to ensure you are setup to use the latest encryption standards and both your Firewall and VPN Software is up to date
Remote Desktop Servers
Often businesses have Data and IT Systems that Remote Working Staff need to access whilst they are working remotely to remain productive and effective
A VPN is only really suited to accessing a small number of small documents across your VPN on an occasional basis, it is not suited to running software packages remotely over a VPN. This is because the nature of a VPN means it has a number of technical properties which are not the same as a Wired Network in the same office.
Your wired network connection in the Office would typically running at a Gigabit or 1000mb speed, a Remote VPN connection will only generally connect at the highest Upload Speed of the Broadband Connections in question. We have found people's home broadband connection speeds are likely to be somewhere between 1mb and 15mb which is very much considerably slower than a Wired LAN Connection
In addition, the nature of the internet means that it is a transient medium, which means that there is no guarantee that packets of information sent are guaranteed to reach their destination or indeed in a timely manner.
So, for example, if you are trying to run an Accounts Package Remotely over as VPN, it will likely be terribly slow, if indeed it does load, and you are likely to corrupt your Accounts Data. For example Sage Accounts stipulate a Gigabit network connection on a wired connection (definitely not wireless or Wi-FI), this data throughput simply wont be achieved on 'just a VPN connection'
If you have a number of Staff working Remotely and they all need Concurrent Access to the Office IT Network and Software Systems then we would usually recommend a Remote Desktop Server
A Remote Desktop Server will typically be an Extension of your Windows Desktop, it would be loaded with all of the usual Business Applications as well as Word, Excel, Outlook for example, and allow for multiple users to connect into the Business IT Systems Remotely and access Data and IT Systems as though they were actually in the office. Business Continuity Solutions.
Cloud Based Email Systems
There are generally two types of business email systems available, either an internal email system hosted within your office building or a Cloud based Email System hosted in the Cloud
Most business would typically use Outlook as their Email Client Software, and this would generally be connected to a Microsoft Exchange back end, either hosted locally within the business premises or hosted in the cloud
There are certain advantages to hosting your email in the Cloud where the number of staff working remotely or outside the business office than there is physically within the office.
An often misconception is that Cloud based email systems are more immune to I.T outages than compared to a internally hosted email system within your building, this is simply not true, all email hosting provider each have their own I.T challenges.
Hosting your email in the cloud would ensure that your office internet connection is not swamped with lots of remote working users trying to access internal email resources.
With a lot of staff working remotely from their own computers, mobiles and tablets, it is very unlikely outbound emails will be sent in a consistent manner with the correct Email Footer information
Email footer information should be consistent and in the very least contain information about your Company, the person sending the email, and an legal email disclaimer. UK Companies House also insist your Company Number is also displayed on each email
One of the major problems of remote working staff is that often internal communications can be poor and disjointed when compared to everyone working from the same office.
Additionally for a large number of employees, working remotely can suddenly become a lonely place where they have previously been used to working from a busy office in a team environment
Our Prediction of the Future
We think this Coronavirus COVID19 business disruption has enabled businesses to see that a lot of their employees can work seamlessly and productively, working remotely or working from home.
With the advice above, you could utilise this information to steer your businesses IT systems towards a better, and more robust model with features for remote working business continuity solution
This in itself is likely to see businesses scrutinising their current office space and making hard decisions on whether there is a need to expand office floor space or extend their physical office space
More widespread Remote Working or Hot Desk-ing may well become the new business norm, or indeed may see some business types no longer have a physical office presence
And those businesses wanting to attract quality staff may well offer some employees a better work-life balance by allowing some remote working
Ready to find out more about how we can help your business?
Century IT Services provides Business Continuity advice and Remote Working Advice and Installation Services, we cover a geographic area of Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and West Sussex.
IT Support Contracts, IT Installation Services, IT Proactive Monitoring, Cloud Hosted Telephone Systems, Microsoft Office 365 as well as a wide range of other IT Services to Business in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and West Sussex