Stay open for business during the Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus Business Continuity Planning

In the light of ongoing news reports regarding the Coronavirus (COVID:19) pandemic, many businesses are now putting business continuity plans in place, which include allowing employees to work from home.  Flexible home working is the norm for many organisations including Opus, however, for those where it isn’t we have put together some practical advice and tips to help you stay open for business during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Get ‘tech ready’ for home working

  • If you are asked to work from home, our advice is to make your home working set up as much like the office as you can, in order to work effectively.
  • Consider asking for an external screen and docking station if you are using a laptop PC.
  • Ensure you have a mouse at home, ideally a Bluetooth version so you are not having to work uncomfortably all day using a laptop track pad and you are not getting tangled up with a mouse cable.
  • If you are using a personal computer or laptop, ensure you have anti-virus software installed on it and if you need to access office file servers or onsite CRM systems, you may need VPN (Virtual Private Network) access.
  • Naturally you’ll need access to Broadband but should that fail at any point, it is important to have a backup plan such as tethering* to your mobile phone or perhaps a 4G (mobile) router.
  • If your company policy is to divert calls to home numbers or personal mobile numbers, remember to prefix outgoing calls with 141, if you wish to withhold your personal numbers.
  • If you wish to have a teleworker solution at home (an office phone at home) you will need either a mobile or PC soft client, to make and receive calls to your work number. If you are using a soft client, you may want to consider using a headset with a microphone.
  • If you are using an actual desk phone, take a moment to consider where your Broadband router is located in relation to where you wish to work, as you will have to physically connect your desk phone to your router.
  • If your router is not in the room in which you wish to work, you may want to consider using a Powerline Adapter Kit or for Mitel users a Mitel Wireless LAN Extender to enable you to connect your desk phone.

Whatever your business continuity strategy is, we suggest you run a test day and have teams or ideally all staff, working from home as a practice run before you are forced to, in order to identify any problem areas.

*Please note that tethering your PC to your mobile for email access will be consuming your mobile data allowance, resulting in additional charges should you exceed your allowance. Therefore, you may want to consider purchasing a 30 day SIM-only contract with a larger data allowance or even a multi-network SIM, should you suffer any coverage issues at home.

For help resolving any of these technical issues please get in touch.

Mitel Users

For Mitel users there are some training guides available for the 6900 Series IP Phones, MiCollab Client and NuPoint Unified Messenger and users guides for 5300 Series and other IP Phones.

Keep in touch

Communication between colleagues (and for some with customers too), will be crucial at this time.  Having the right communication and collaboration tools in place should be planned for.  Meetings can still take place via video conferencing technology for example and many collaboration tools have an in built ‘chat’ functionality to keep lines of communication open and easy.

Be safe and secure

With an increase in home working likely in the coming weeks and months, comes some risk.  Cyber-crime is on the increase already and hackers will no doubt be looking for new opportunities to hack systems, steal sensitive information, or commit online fraud during this time of instability. Keeping your employees safe from possible cyber breaches is a critical part of the planning process.

Considering one or ideally both of these measures is advisable:

Set up a virtual private network (VPN) to create an encrypted connection from each employees’ computer across to the business IT system.   VPN services are ideal for securely accessing your work computer systems while out of the office environment, so are an ideal option when looking at remote home working.

Set up multi-factor authentication (MFA) for when staff are not in the office.   MFA requires users to sign in with a second method to verify their identity using a phone or via an authenticator app.  Using multi-factor authentication is one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase the security for your organisation by adding an extra layer of security when staff need to work from home.

Prepare your staff

Carrying out an audit of what equipment staff will need (and if they have it) in order to do their job remotely is important. You may also want to find out if staff have a working space at home that will be conducive to them being able to do their job and stay connected.

Although working from home is the norm for many, for some it may feel like quite a challenge.  Checking in on how staff feel about working from home when they aren’t used to it and giving them the opportunity to ask questions and voice any concerns will help to ease the transition especially for those who are feeling unsettled.

Opus tips for home-working

Here at Opus, many of our staff are used to working from home, so for us as the Coronavirus intensifies, working from home will be business as usual.  We have complied our top survival tips if you are faced with having to put a work from home continuity plan in place:

Create the right atmosphere

Try to make sure your working environment is as comfortable as possible.  Clear away a space, preferably at a table or desk to allow for a dedicated work space.   Keep your work space tidy, especially when you finish for the day to keep you in the right frame of mind for when you start again the following day.

Structure your day

Routine is important for us all in general, so try and keep your working hours at home similar to those in the office. Ensuring you set boundaries between work and non-work time and try to resist the urge to answer emails once you’ve clocked off!   If you do need to alter your working hours for any reason while at home, for example if you have young children, then make sure that you communicate the times you are working to your colleagues so they know when you can be contacted.

Keep communicating

Working from home can mean you get lots done, but, it can also be an isolating experience, especially if you are used to having lots of colleagues around you.  Keeping in touch is vital and knowing that someone is at the end of the phone should you need to talk can really help.  Make sure your staff have phone numbers and contact details for those they can contact and make sure they know who to speak to should they be feeling concerned or have questions to ask while at home.

Take regular breaks

When you’re at home, it’s easy to get so absorbed in what you are doing that you don’t take a break.  Make sure you set regular times to get up from your chair and take a walk, make a coffee and get mobile.  If you are due breaks during the day make sure that you take them and use them as an opportunity to refresh your mind and stretch your legs.

Work effectively at home with Opus

At Opus, our remote working solutions provide your employees with the ability to work from home, whilst retaining communication and collaboration features and functionality they enjoy at the office.

We offer a range of technology solutions to deliver an in-office IT and communications experience, regardless of the physical location.

    For more information about this or any of our news items please call us on 0800 316 7566.
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