Working from home was previously seen as something of a perk of a job, not a necessity to get it done during a time of crisis.
In the 21st century it is possible to uproot the office and have all the capability you need at the touch of a few buttons from your home.
Lister Unified Communications are experts in ensuring that self-isolating need not be a barrier to keeping the office ticking over.
Managing Director Rob Lister and his team of experts at the Stonehouse-based company have created a plan for what your company will need to ride out the Covid-19 storm.
“The first question you have to ask yourself is how flexible are your telecoms and IT to accommodate home working,” Rob said.
“Let’s ignore the human and management aspects for a moment and just think about the tech…
“The perfect scenario is that all of your staff will already have laptops and mobile phones with unlimited data.
“They will have good broadband at home and your company phone system and IT will be Cloud-based. Your e-mail and business applications are also on the Cloud and your security is in place.
“That’s in a perfect world, but in reality, most of us are at varying stages on that road, so we have made a list of a few options that are worth considering.”
Office telephone system
Rob Lister said: “There are numerous options available, from just arranging a simple divert on your phone so incoming calls to the office line are sent to a mobile, through to a fully-integrated Cloud-based system.
“Some are easy to set up, some require an engineer to make the change and some are built-in to some of the systems we offer.”
- Divert your Analogue or Digital Phone Line.
PROS: An easy, low-cost solution.
CONS: For inbound calls only, it forwards your main company number to one destination number (typically a mobile). Takes around 24 hours for BT to complete.
- Divert Calls via your Phone System
PROS: Divert main number and each direct dial number to different destination numbers.
CONS: For inbound calls only. Each call requires two lines, one for inbound and one for the forward. Subject to availability of an engineer to reprogram the phone system
- Divert Calls to NGN Services (03 or 08 number)
PROS: Divert main number to up to 7 destination numbers, low cost, easy and fast to set-up.
CONS: For inbound calls only, each number and direct dial number will need an individual NGN Service set up.
- Divert your SIP Trunk
PROS: Divert main number and direct dial number to separate destination numbers. Enhanced options available for portal access for direct control.
CONS: For inbound calls only. Standard option subject to availability of an engineer. Enhanced options subject to monthly charge
- Enable your Phone System for Remote Workers (Softphone on Laptop or IP Phone)
PROS: For inbound and outbound calls with all functions you get within office, no call forwarding charges.
CONS: Additional license or hardware costs, additional security considerations such as VPN link or Session Border Control
- Cloud-based Phone System
PROS: Standard feature of Cloud Phone Systems, Easy to enhance service with Softphones, Mobile Apps and Desktop Sharing ‘Collaboration’ Apps
Company mobile phones
Rob Lister said: “Your mobile phone isn’t just a tool for making calls and sending messages. It can be your ‘hotspot’ connection to the internet for your other devices too
“Unlimited data bundles are now becoming readily available for relatively small increases to your monthly plan, so it’s worth considering making that switch.
“Look at options to centrally-manage your company mobile devices, that means you can secure your data and wipe the data if the phone is lost, again for a small increase to a plan.
“Look at whether multiple networks available within one company plan. Different remote workers may have different coverage quality depending where you live.
“For instance, we can offer, O2, Vodafone and EE connectivity on one company account to ensure that you have the best available coverage.”
Options/considerations for your IT:
You are set up at home with a working laptop and connectivity, either from your home broadband or using your company mobile.
But that doesn’t mean that you’re set up and ready to work just as you would from your desk in the office.
Rob Lister said: “There are lots of things to consider when working from home in terms of security and remote access to your files and desktop.
“You need to think about being secure and ensuring that your files are safe and secure when accessed remotely.
“For security and speed, you should have VPN links for remote access to your files and desktop.
“For applications such as Accounts Packages or CRM, ask if there are Cloud options you can access remotely, or whether you need a VPN link?
“When it comes to your e-mail, Microsoft Office365 is ready to go, otherwise you’ll need to set-up e-mail forwarding on the exchange server.
“Also, when using private devices for company activities, think about what network security and virus protection is being used, and also the impact on any GDPR regulations and company policies.”