In the latest wave of challenges causing businesses to pivot, we have the ‘pingdemic’, with individuals being asked to self-isolate after contact with a positive COVID-19 case. True, the government is proposing a major overhaul to these rules on 16 August 2021, but the question is whether you will be changing your workplace rules too? Many businesses have already advised us that they plan to continue asking members of staff to isolate at home, despite the logistical challenges, because it is better to be cautious and have a few people at home, than risk a whole team being off work with the virus. Sounds sensible to us, but can your infrastructure withstand it?

When we were in lockdown, working from home solutions were in many ways simpler. Everyone was at home, which meant businesses were forced to adapt to home working, or furlough staff if that work couldn’t be done at home. Now however, the challenges we face in the ‘pingdemic’ are somewhat different:

  1. It isn’t planned for. You can go from having a team member in the office to at home in a matter of minutes. This can challenge even your best laid plans.
  2. The bulk of the team is still in the office, but now they need to work with one individual who is at home. This adds a new, challenging dynamic to collaborative working.
  3. You may just be regaining your professional set-up, phasing out the use of personal mobiles and returning to office-based phones. How does a sudden homeworker impact on this?
  4. It’s temporary. We’re not talking a solution for months. Often a mere ten days to sort. That means your solution has to be effective but temporary too.

So how can you implement a solution which supports the isolating individual, enables them to actively participate in the remainder of your team, and does not compromise your professional image or workplace security? You need an emergency IT kit of course! Here’s what to include:

  • A laptop and docking station setup for at least some of your employees. These can replace your traditional desktop PC models, without compromising performance or processing power, and the perk is that they will work at home or on the move, as well as they work in the office. This means that should an employee suddenly need to work from home, you can send them out the door with an office PC, fully configured to your security systems and network, enabling your employee to be back at work the second they walk through their door. As a basic, we recommend you have enough of these units to cover 10% of your staff as a contingency, but you can also make this setup part of your long term plan, supporting your business with flexible or home working days, working on the go or on location, and even getting rid of your office altogether, just like GB Solutions has.
  • A plug and go phone system, or softphone application. Whether you prefer a traditional handset model, or you’re happy to embrace making calls using your PC microphone, modern hosted phone systems like our Evonex platform, now come with plug and go handsets, or a software version that is used through your PC. This means any member of your team can pick up their phone or laptop and take it with them, so they’re back up and running as soon as they get home. The perk of these platforms is that they are seamless, so as soon as they’re implemented, your team can continue transferring calls back and forth, exactly as if they are all based in the office, even if they aren’t!
  • A top-notch security package. One of the biggest downsides of individuals working from home is that it can leave your entire network open to being compromised. Most people will be using their home-grade, domestic broadband, which your business doesn’t control, and which therefore may not reach your exacting security standards. At best this could mean introduction of a virus or ransomware. At worst, your entire network could be compromised in a hack. While utilising the laptop method above will help, because you will at least know there are proper security protocols in place on that device, you can go one step further and upgrade your security measures to work inside and outside of the office. Tools such as Microsoft 365, multi-factor login authentication, secure back-ups, antivirus and antimalware, and proper upgrade procedures can all combine to maximise your business protection. While this helps keep you secure during the pingdemic, it has the added advantage of improving your security overall.
  • Remote IT support. Whether your team is having an issue logging on to files, or you want to make sure the standards in the office are the same as those outside, including a remote IT support package means that your team will have an expert on hand to help resolve any issues. This could be anything from regaining access to office files while at home, to making sure they’re staying on top of software updates when they are not office-based. It helps to have an expert on hand!

Angie Petkovic, Managing Director of apt marketing & pr comments “Thank goodness for SCG IT support. We had a member of staff in the office last Monday who’d been in 5 minutes before getting a track and trace notification to self-isolate. Thanks to the Evonex phone system and our laptop & docking station setup that SCG recommended, she picked up the kit, walked out the office and was back at home working within 20 minutes. No risk to the rest of the team and absolutely no hassle. This is definitely the future of working!”

Even better, while these solutions can be small-scale for one or two units, many of the principals can be applied to your whole workplace IT network, to enhance your security, productivity, and business longevity. Speak to our team on 01453 700 800 for help and support improving your network and ask about our free IT audit to recommend improvements and help you establish the next steps for upgrading your network.