As we finally receive news of the four-stage exit from lockdown, attentions in the workplace naturally turn to the ‘future’ of work. Will employees be desperate for a return to the office and the much-missed human collaboration, or have they had a taste of the ‘good life’ and hope to continue working the majority of their hours at home? The only way you can answer this question is to ask your employees, and then to consider what has and hasn’t worked for your business in the past year? Aligning these together should give you the optimum flexible workplace, but have you considered what infrastructure you are going to need to support it? Here’s our handy guide of things to consider…

Work anywhere phone lines:

Lockdown forced many teams to work exclusively from home, but what happens when they want to spend some time in the office and some time at home? How can you direct their calls, and how can someone in the office-based team transfer a call to someone working at home? Now’s the time to look at a hosted phone system which means your employees can literally answer a call anytime, anywhere as though they are in the office. With the option of physical handsets and a softphone application, it’s a great way to bridge the gap! Speak to our team on 01453 700 800 for more information.

Personal versus professional equipment:

For many employees, using their own devices was acceptable during the pandemic, but what happens if working from home becomes a more permanent solution? Providing equipment for your team, which they can use in the office and at home is a must, and it’s all about being able to optimise it for each environment. Using company equipment also means you can dictate how the devices are used, add web filtering to focus productivity, make sure the cybersecurity is up to scratch, and reduce the risk of a cyber breach hitting the company via personal avenues.

Solutions like a laptop for use at home with a docking station and screens at work, provide maximum flexibility, and our “Office in a Box” solution is great for providing every employee with all of the hardware and software they need, for a fixed monthly cost.

Cyber Protection:

Many of the pandemic-led solutions implemented by businesses, were necessary as a quick fix to get people back to work as soon as possible. The problem is, in many cases, these ‘quick fixes’ have become long-term solutions or things that need a review ‘when we have time’. Your cybersecurity cannot be one of those ‘at some point’ reviews as a cyberattack can strike anywhere and anytime, from a myriad of sources.

If you’re looking at a full return to the office, now is the time to review your cybersecurity and ensure it is still fit for purpose after a year of not being there. If you’re planning a blended workspace with some or total working from home, then you need to review your cybersecurity to ensure that every step is protected and you have the same level of security inside your office and outside it for your flexible employees. We recommend implementing Multi-Factor Authentication as a must, putting in place cyber liability insurance, and ensuring your staff training is up to scratch. Ask our team (call on 01453 700 800) about our CMDS product which adds multi-factor authentication across your entire system and file structure, and about our cybersecurity training product that keeps your teams’ knowledge fresh.

Internet Connectivity:

Your focus on internet connectivity should review three things:

  1. Employees in the office: do you have good quality internet speeds for your team in the office to do everything they need to do. Slow internet hampers productivity and many businesses benefit from full-fibre ethernet to secure dedicated speeds. It’s possible your requirements have changed a lot since a year ago, so a review is very timely.
  2. Accessing files outside the office: if your files are stored on servers within the office, then your staff at home may struggle to access them promptly if your internet speeds are poor. Your office bandwidth can directly impact the speed of access for your employees who are working elsewhere.
  3. Employees working at home: You may need to review your policy of who is responsible for the office-based time spent working on home broadband, and whether that home broadband has the right security settings. As soon as you have a member of staff working outside the office, you should be clear about where responsibilities lie (financial and security), as well as your’s and your employee’s expectations.

We can support with advice on optimising your internet provision, to work in and outside the office. Speak to our team on 01453 700 800 for a free audit.

File Storage & Sharing:

As you’ve likely had to move to work remotely, it’s probable you have already implemented some form of cloud-based file storage and sharing, or have implemented a VPN strategy to access the files on your office server. Either way, in many cases, these implementations were reactive, extending existing software solutions to suit new working conditions. A return to work and a new flexible working style is the optimum time to review the products on the market, and assess whether there is a better performing solution available for your team. Speak to our team on 01453 700 800 for a free audit.

Data Backup:

More file access points mean more potential for cybersecurity breaches and/or potential loss of files. A good quality data backup is essential, just in case you need to retrieve files in an emergency!

The future of working:

Want to read more? The World Economic Forum released five interesting predictions for the disrupted workplace, including a focus on working from anywhere, anytime, as well as a removal of the physical barrier of location for delivering on a job.