Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Jamie Durham
IT Correspondent
3:22 AM 31st October 2020

Five IT Things To Know Before Committing To A ‘New Normal’

A recent survey by YouGov found that ‘fewer than four in ten want to leave their house to go to work’. This was compounded by research from NetMotion, which uncovered statistics showing that 57.5% – of the 66% of staff that had encountered a technical issue during lockdown – didn't share their problem with the IT department.

As the UK sits in a state of flux between office, home and hybrid hours we explore why it’s vital that employees have the flexibility to set up ‘shop’ wherever they choose – but keep their wits about them, too.

Within one week of the ‘work from home where possible’ guidance being issued in early 2020, we had helped to implement remote set ups for around 600 individual users, in less than seven days. Although some of those are now back in the office, many are flitting between locations – and some are yet to return at all.

For business owners who are exploring how their team’s nine-to-five will look long-term, there are a few golden rules to help the ‘new normal’ run a little more smoothly – regardless of whether staff are operating from brick-and-mortar commercial office space, socially distanced coffee shops, or even the dining room table.

Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

For employees who are switching between locations, it’s important to ensure their machines have just as robust a security shield as they would if they were permanently working at the company’s HQ.

There’s been no shortage of coverage in the news about the rise in cyber attacks during the pandemic, and the last thing you want to add to your list of ‘2020 challenges’ is dealing with a data breach which might have otherwise been prevented.

A VPN allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the internet, and will ensure your browsing activity is shielded from prying eyes.

Train your team in cyber security

Whereas in the workplace, colleagues would likely shout out: “Has anyone else just got a text from O2 saying our company device bill hasn’t been paid?”, remote personnel need to be upskilled in the art of spotting – and reacting accordingly – to a phishing message.

Unfortunately, savvy cyber criminals do an excellent job of making their less-than-legit communications look like the real deal, so empowering employees to query and report anything that feels ‘off’, is key.

While anyone would, hopefully, agree that it’s vitally important personnel fully understand the risks lurking online, your IT department can run regular ‘tests’ to see how they engage with these suspect senders. Simulating contact with a few red flags could eventually make the difference between cyber success and failure.

We need to know about new faces

Great news, your new team member is starting next week! However, even if they’re joining a firm that’s currently working from home, the onboarding process needs to remain seamless.

So, if your fresh-faced colleague will be spending their first week operating from a spare bedroom, they need all the necessary tech tools at their disposal from day one. In order to avoid any first-day frustrations, your IT department should have all the hardware and software ordered, installed and delivered to the newbie’s house, in plenty of time.

Unfortunately, with redundancies and restructures on the rise, it’s just as important to let your techies know well in advance of anyone leaving the firm, as there could be passwords to change, access to revoke, and hardware to recover.

Sharing the WiFi

We’ve all been there, trying to hold a video call while your partner sings along to Spotify, the youngest plays video games and your teenager streams Netflix all day. There’s only so much internet that can squeeze down that residential cabling at any one time.

Therefore, it might be worth scheduling your virtual meetings first thing, agreeing times who can access what, or even downloading films, music and podcasts to your device the evening before – that way, everybody wins.

Ask the experts

Finally, while 2020 might have been an exceptionally busy time for technical support firms the world over, such professionals exist to solve any IT-related headaches. By our very nature, we’re used to juggling multiple plates, hopping between remote access screens, and delivering fixes – all in a bid to maintain client productivity.

So, we’d much rather be contacted by our customers, than hear they have been suffering in silence.

Readers will know all-too-well that a slow or glitchy machine will have dire consequences on their own productivity, and if you’re working from home and feel isolated – there’s nothing worse than feeling demotivated by temperamental tech.

Jamie can be contacted directly here:

The YouGov survey referred to in this article can be found here: YouGov