Working from home: What you really need

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16 April, 2020

Due to the on-going global coronavirus pandemic, businesses have quickly had to establish working from home (WFH) strategies. For many businesses it has given them the impetus to modernise and embrace new ways to collaborate and deliver services. Albeit under challenging circumstances.

If, like many businesses, you have joined the “stay at home” movement then you’ll need to make sure that your WFH strategy covers everything you need so that your team can work securely and collaboratively.

Staying Secure

Hackers are opportunists, with more businesses operating from home, and the distraction of coronavirus creates more vulnerable targets.

How to use a virtual private network

To keep your information secure, most companies will use a virtual private network, or more commonly known as a VPN. A VPN creates an encrypted connection from the user’s device to their company’s IT System. Each VPN user requires a licence, so if you are a business owner then we recommend that you have enough user licences and check that your server has the capacity for all the additional users. Remember that not all your colleagues will have used a VPN. Make sure you provide them clear instructions on how to gain access.

Connection to private Wi-Fi

With many more people working from home, it’s worth checking that your internet connection speed and that it is reliable. You may need to check with your home broadband provider that it allows you to connect to a VPN, as this can vary between providers, packages and areas. If there are any restrictions, then you may need to consider upgrading or investing in a mobile hotspot or router.  We also recommend that you advise your workforce to strengthen their wi-fi passwords, especially if they are still using default password.

Verify users

You don’t want to give any old Tom, Dick or Harry access to your business’ networks. Working apart from your colleagues means that you need to ensure only those with authority can access your network. Use either two-factor or multi-factor authentication to verify users and devices connecting to your network.

Lost and stolen devices

Check and implement your company’s lost and stolen device policy. Advise and encourage your employees not to store any sensitive business data on any home working device to avoid a potential data breach. Of course, we hope that this doesn’t happen while working from home.

Email Encryption

Email is a gateway for potential threats, and coronavirus is an added distraction for businesses. Hackers are more than likely to take advantage of the situation. Therefore, email encryption is a must, particularly if you have staff who deal with sensitive company or customer data. Make sure that those who need it, have the email management and protection they require like Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange.

Working from home Cyber-threat awareness

As a business owner you need to consider the fact that with more of your staff working from home there will be an increased number of business network endpoints. This increase is something that cyber criminals will exploit, however if you have adequate cyber security then this shouldn’t be an issue. Since the outbreak of Coronavirus in the UK, reports of phishing emails scams with a coronavirus or covid-19 themes have increased by 400%. Which have led to an increase in Malware attacks. Ensure your employees know what to do if they get phished.

Working collaboratively

Keeping in touch with colleagues is crucial, which is why having a remote meeting service is a necessity. During the covid-19 outbreak in China Cisco’s WebEx video conferencing saw 22 times as many people using its services. Today there are plenty of ways you can stay in communication with your colleagues, whatever size your organisation is.

Keeping in Touch

If you are looking just to communicate one-to-one, or smaller teams, WhatsApp, which is free, allows you to do just that. You can video chat with up to four people, make up groups or individually chat. What’s more is that you probably won’t have to download any software as you’re probably a seasoned user already. Also handy if you’re not an Micorsoft 365 user.

Working from home collaboratively

With disparate teams working from home, physical meetings are a definite no go. However, that doesn’t mean that the collaborating should stop. One option is Microsoft Teams, as part of Microsoft 365, it provides a range of tools to help you communicate with your team from instant messaging to sharing documents to conducting virtual meetings. Teams’ free version supports up to 300 participants and offers guess access, one-on-one, and group and audio calls, as well as file and screen sharing, and online document collaboration. If you’re already using Microsoft 365 then this should make your collaborative work easier.

There are other alternative platforms that you could use like Slack or Zoom. Slack is a chat room, which replaces email as your primary method of communication and document sharing. It provides workspaces where you can have different channels for group discussions or projects. It also allows you to share information, such as files via private messages. Another alternative is Zoom which is a web-based video conferencing tool, it provides its users with either a desktop option or a mobile app. Users can meet online with or without video, choose to record sessions, collaborate or projects. You can even share or annotate other users’ screens. It is also worth noting that to take advantage of their free service the allowed meeting time is only 45 minutes.

Finally, if you have a VoIP telephony service, now is the time explore all the services it has to offer. Many provide apps for mobile smart devices, which means that your office number doesn’t need forwarding to one telephone number. So, your business can operate as normal. Most platforms should provide you with the option to transfer calls to a specific team or person, see if colleagues are available to converse with and pick up answerphone messages.

Working from home securely and collaboratively

If you feel your working from home strategy needs further bolstering or security measures need reviewing, then call or contact our team of experts for further help.

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