Is Your Company Properly Equipped for Home Working?

With the coronavirus situation worsening, it looks like it is now a case of when, rather than if, the UK government will ask people to self-isolate and work from home. Whilst some businesses already have good systems in place to allow employees to work remotely, there are a worrying number of SMEs that don’t.

So how can you prepare your business for such an eventuality?

1.) Acknowledge and accept that all or part of your workforce are likely to need to work remotely.

Unfortunately, taking a ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ stance, when it comes to the possibility of large-scale self-isolation and compulsory home working, is no longer an option. As it is now inevitable, putting sufficient plans in place now, could be the difference between your business surviving the pandemic and not!

2.) Evaluate which jobs and tasks can and can’t be carried out remotely.

Carry out a full analysis of all roles and duties and categorise them into 4 categories:

  • Can already be done remotely – Certain tasks may be easy to carry out remotely and may already be done remotely from time to time.
  • Could be done remotely, but changes would be necessary – There may be some tasks that couldn’t currently be done remotely but could be with some changes. For example, it may be that hard copies of invoices are currently posted out each day, but a switch to email invoices could be relatively straight forward and allow invoicing to be done remotely.
  • Could be done remotely, if additional hardware/software was in place – It may be possible to carry out other tasks remotely with the addition of new hardware or software, such as laptops and cloud-based software.
  • Can’t ever be done remotely – Whilst there will undoubtedly be some jobs that can’t be done remotely, these may be able to be carried out by a skeleton staff or put on hold, depending on the urgency of the tasks.

3.) Further investigate the additional hardware/software required.

Whilst buying new laptops and software isn’t usually cheap, weighing up the costs against the potential for lost revenue, may well still make it the most cost-effective option. In some situations, it may be possible for employees to use their own laptops and phones, but this can create a number of data-security issues, which should be properly considered beforehand.

4.) Set up a communications protocol.

It is important to have a good communications plan in place before any remote working starts. The plan should outline:

  • How to reach everybody
  • How employees are expected to respond to customers
  • How and when teams will coordinate/meet  

5.) Identify ways to measure performance.

Switching to large scale remote working at short notice, is inevitably going to present issues that may not have been foreseen. Additionally, it is also possible that some employees may see it as an opportunity to slack off, so it is important that output is closely monitored. This will allow managers to ensure that employees and systems are working as they should be and that any problems people run into are addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Close monitoring of performance and what has and hasn’t worked well, will also be useful to reflect on going forward, when the pandemic is over, and businesses return to normal. For example, you may find that certain things such as switching from postal to email communications has worked well and saved money, or that holding meetings over Skype rather than in person has saved unnecessary travelling time and could be kept in place.

QiC Systems are an award-winning IT support company, based near Winchester and servicing the whole of Hampshire. Specialising in Office 365 and cloud-based working solutions, we can help you to ensure your business is home working ready!

To arrange a free Home Working Audit, call us on : 01962 711000, or send us an email to sales@qicsystems.com

8 of the Best Tips and Tricks for Office 365

1. Real-time co-authoring: Save a Word document to OneDrive or SharePoint, so colleagues can work on it with you – you’ll see each other’s changes as they happen.

2. Use links instead of attachments: Sharing files couldn’t be easier. Simply upload a document to your Office 365 cloud storage, compose your email and insert the link to your file. The recipient will have full editing permission and you won’t clutter up your email with large attachments.

3. Tell Me: If you’re unsure on how to do something, whether it’s writing a letter, or creating a purchase ledger, the Tell Me function can help. It’s at the top of most Office 365 apps, including Word and Excel. Just type what you want to do in the search box, and it will direct you.

4. Focused Inbox: This has replaced the Clutter feature and splits your inbox into two tabs – Focused and Other. All your important emails will go into ‘Focused’, while the rest are easily accessible, but out of the way on the ‘Other’ tab.

5. Office Lens: Quickly and efficiently take more detailed notes with the help of the Office Lens app. Using a smartphone, take pictures of notes on a sheet of paper, or a diagram on a whiteboard and easily turn it into digital note form.

6. Sway: If you create a lot of slideshows, but you’re beginning to run out of inspiration, try Sway. Sway offers a wide range of templates, backgrounds and other features to help you create professional and eye-catching slideshows.

7. Use Pins: To gain quicker access to your regularly used documents, you can use ‘Pins’. Go to File, Open and Recent, then select the More icon next to the file you’d like Pin. Select Pin and this will add it to your Recent page.

8. Office Mobile Apps: This is included in your subscription. Simply download it from your Android or iOS device store and you’ll be able to use Word, Excel, Power Point, Outlook and OneDrive, directly from your smartphone or tablet while you’re on the move!

If you would like to migrate to Office 365, or require support with your Office 365 subscription, call QiC today on 01962 711000.

How can Office 365 help with GDPR compliance?

One essential step to ensuring you’re compliant with GDPR is discovering and controlling what personal data you hold and where it resides. There are many Office 365 solutions that can help with this:

1. Compliance Manager – helps you manage your organisation’s compliance procedures from one place. You can conduct real-time risk assessments, providing a score that reflects your compliance performance against data protection regulatory requirements when using Microsoft cloud services. You will also be able to audit and monitor your compliance performance.

2. Data Loss Protection – This can identify common sensitive data types, such as financial, medical and personally identifiable information and allows you to configure actions to be taken upon identification to protect sensitive information and prevent its accidental disclosure.

3. Advanced Data Governance – assists you with data management, helping you find, classify, set policies on and manage the lifecycle of your data.

4. Office 365 e-Discovery – can find text and metadata in content across your Office 365 assets, including SharePoint, OneDrive, Skype and Exchange. For more precision searches, Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery can help you find documents related to a particular subject.

5. Advanced Threat Protection – helps protect your email against new, sophisticated malware attacks. You can also create policies that help prevent your users from accessing malicious attachments or malicious websites linked through email.

6. Advanced Security Management – enables you to identify high-risk and abnormal usage, alerting you to potential breaches. In addition, it allows you to set up activity policies to track and respond to high risk actions.

7. Office 365 Audit Logs – allow you to monitor and track user and administrator activities across workloads in Office 365, which help with early detection and investigation of security and compliance issues.

If your organisation is preparing for GDPR and would like to talk to one of our Office 365 experts, contact QiC today on 01962 711000.

What additional features of Office 365 should I be using?

Make sure you’re getting the most out of your Office 365 subscription, and explore the additional benefits it could be bringing to your business – there’s far more to it than just the Office suite!

Features you may want to try…

Planner – Make it easy for your team to create new plans and organise/assign tasks. Share files, chat about what you’re working on and easily receive progress updates.

Sway – Create and share interactive web-based reports, presentations and newsletters right from your phone, tablet or browser. ‘Sways’ are easy to share and look great on any screen.

Yammer Social Networking – Tap into knowledge across your organisation. Yammer is an internal social network for your employees, allowing them to share ideas, work collaboratively and progress projects faster.

OneDrive for Business – Office 365 offers 1TB of storage for every user, allowing them to access their documents virtually anywhere. Share files with others inside and outside your organisation, control who can see and edit files and easily sync documents with PCs/Macs and other devices.