Working From Home, The Technology
Working from home has never been so important as it is today. The COVID-19 virus has forced a huge percentage of the working population into doing just this and its likely that this may result in a seismic transformation in the nations working practice once the dust settles. In this post, we thought that it might be useful to look at the major components of a reliable, secure working from home strategy and how they might be implemented. Over the coming weeks we will post further, more in depth insight around each of these areas with a view to providing actionable information that will help your business.
As users of it have recently been discovering, a “conventional” PBX provides little flexibility over and above the ability to divert to mobiles or other numbers in the event of working from home. Even this can require some programming, depending on the system.
By contrast a VOIP telephone system allows almost limitless configuration changes and flexibility, generally on a self service basis. Here at CF Systems, we partner with 3CX who deliver a system that allows communication seamlessly from any location, including PC based softphones and mobile apps. In addition, VOIP enables you to greatly reduce call charges and futureproofs you for when BT remove ISDN.
Of course, no mention of telephony and communications in this context can be complete without touching on videoconferencing, with even the UK cabinet using this to meet during the COVID 19 lockdown. Some VOIP phone systems (including 3CX) offer the ability to run video conferencing, otherwise stand alone apps include the likes of Zoom and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams (see later) also enable video calling and conferencing.
3. Email and Office applications
The old days of Email and MS Office applications being tied to one, potentially office based machine are gone. The latest web based Microsoft 365 platforms enable mobility across different devices with both email and your Office applications, ideal if you want to work remotely using different devices.
4. Communications and collaboration
In addition to the “standard” office communication channels of email and telephone, home working has led to a dramatic rise in the uptake of additional communication channels. These range from straightforward messaging apps such as Whats App and Facebook Messenger through to fully configurable, unified collaborative working environments such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. Both of these enable you to organise communications into channel and manage these through voice, messaging or chat. We use Teams ourselves at CF Systems and have seen significant benefits in terms of our project communications as a result.
5. Secure connection to infrastructure
If you’re allowing or even encouraging employees to work remotely from their home or even public internet connections, security is of utmost importance. Managed connectivity via a firewall based VPN (at CF Systems we’re partners and big fans of Watchguard) means that your remote workers enjoy the same security standards as those based in the office and keeps your network protected. A firewall also offers the ability to employers for them to monitor and control system and internet access and can be bolstered by specific software to monitor employees such as Activtrak
6. Cloud migration
There are numerous use cases where businesses have been able to move from traditional, on site infrastructure to a cloud based model where their applications are hosted on off site servers. The cloud isn’t for everyone and at CF Systems we assess every case on its individual merits, but cloud based applications can remove the necessity for remotely accessing an office based network which may have cost and security benefits.
We hope this information is a useful primer on some of the key working from home technologies and will expand on each area in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you would like further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch.