Following a rise in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases and government guidance to avoid non-essential contact, many businesses are facing the real challenge of facilitating working from home for all employees.
We’re here to reassure you that remote working really can work well, and we’ve tested it!
Last week, we sent all 45 Green Duck employees home to test what would happen if we had to suddenly down tools and close the office.
“But you’re an IT company, surely you have the necessary technology at your fingertips to deal with these situations.” A valid assumption. But whether worldwide pandemic, bad weather, power cuts, flooding or fires, an unexpected office closure and the issues that come with managing a completely remote workforce need rigorous planning for any business – even us.
Top of our disaster planning to-do list was to ensure that everyone had the capacity to work from home. To assess this, we asked employees to complete a quick survey, asking questions such as, do you have a space to work from? Do you have a reliable internet connection? Do you have access to a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop?
Second, on the list, we need to be able to effectively communicate with each other. We set up a company-wide WhatsApp group for the senior team to communicate important messages. This involved asking everyone to opt-in to (especially as many were sharing personal phone numbers) and setting the group to “no-reply” (the temptation for pet-sharing pics is too great).
We already had the software in place to facilitate incoming and outgoing calls but ensured everyone was up to speed in how to use these; for example, Microsoft Teams was to be used for collaborating on projects both internally and with customers, while external calls were to be made via Skype for Business.
The third and final task was to equip our people with the necessary tools to do their job. As a business, we have already decided to migrate all employees from desktop setups to laptops to facilitate anywhere working. All of our systems are also hosted in a private cloud, which means any employee can log on from anywhere, using any device.
However, remote access does pose significant security risks. But with multi-factor authentication and complex passwords in place, we could be confident that data would remain secure.
Finally, everyone was provided with softphone software on their laptops and headsets for calling.
On Thursday evening, everyone received a message via the WhatsApp group to say the office was closed.
We use an always-on Virtual Private Network (VPN), which replicates the office environment wherever you are, so come Friday morning employees were able to log in from home and access emails, applications and the CRM as normal.
Conscious of maintaining team morale, we set up a 9 am video call via Microsoft Teams. As well as the usual morning briefing, we used this opportunity to run a fancy dress contest. The guy in the bear onesie sitting in a goat shed won.
Ordinary attire assumed, it was business as usual. Inbound calls were coming through via Skype, maintaining the lines of communication between our support teams and customers, while sales reps carried out client meetings via conference call.
During the Monday morning debriefing, we were pleased that there were no technical issues to report, call volumes and response rates stayed the same, and software and hardware served all team members effectively. So, the planning paid off.
To make remote working work for us at Green Duck, we used Office 365 applications including Microsoft teams, Skype for Business, an always-on VPN and laptops rather than desktops.
If you don’t have time or budget to set up this infrastructure for your business we can implement a low cost and quick solution that will allow your team to work remotely. Contact us to learn more.
Author: Sammy Loveridge
Published: March 17, 2020
Read Time: 4 minutes (700+ words)