It’s a challenge for businesses to keep working amidst the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic restrictions. We are all having to learn to adapt to the ‘new normal’ at a time when many businesses were caught off-guard by being sent home.
One business essential the ongoing situation has highlighted is the key role played by information and communications technology (ICT) in continuing to trade and in keeping people connected and working – whether onsite or working from home. We are all depending more on our ICT, from work video calls on Zoom, socialising on Houseparty, to ordering groceries and other goods to our door.
However, this has inevitably also led to an increase in firms having to troubleshoot IT problems such as maintaining e-commerce, connectivity, access to networks and sharing large files, all while maintaining good cybersecurity. Some people are trying to struggle on, wasting precious time and resources on failing ICT while others have turned to a simple solution to make life easier.
Businesses find efficient ICT is essential to trading during pandemic lockdown
Small businesses have been advised to bring their business online to survive if they have not already done so. Recently Primark highlighted how it had gone from making sales of £650m each month to having made zero sales since its stores closed on 22 March. Its sales collapse was down to the lack of an online store or a click-and-collect service.
Fully-functioning ICT has also become even more important to firms because more people are expected to work from home during the current virus outbreak. While workers in some sectors have always found this difficult (e.g. transportation, care services and hospitality), high percentages of people in many other sectors have regularly turned to remote working. Some firms are carrying on with a mixture of the two modes, having some workers on site where they can work safely and others at home.
Since the introduction of social distancing in the UK at the end of March, 49% of adults in employment said they had worked from home, at some point in the last week, compared to around 12% last year (Office for National Statistics).
The employment organisation ACAS says that employers are responsible for the equipment and technology they give employees to enable them to work from home. They must also support the employee to set up any new equipment or technology.
When the IT doesn’t work
Video calls, file transfers and diverted telephony amongst others, have all moved centre-stage as employees try to keep calm and carry on. However, new IT systems and ways of working can cause problems for firms as workers struggle to make them work.
Some of the typical ICT problems encountered include equipping staff with the right resources and access, for example:
- Fast and reliable internet connection at employees’ home or other remote location
- possible Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access the firm’s online network and resources
- the right software and licensing, whether local software or cloud-based options, which solutions are best for WFH and how can your employees access them? Are you ready to scale your current software licenses for use on increased numbers of devices?
- Password access to existing systems – have the right usernames and passwords been given to the appropriate staff?
- Broadband traffic generally has increased hugely with home working and home schooling. Does your ISP offer sufficient bandwidth for large numbers of staff remotely connecting to your systems?
- Who can managers and staff call on for ICT help and support when preparing for and working in emergency situations?
Getting effective and quick support for your IT
Where sufficient in-house IT is not available, consider working with a managed IT partner. Accessing quick and affordable support for your company’s IT needs can make life much easier when there are so many other challenges at the moment.
The advantages of an excellent IT support include:
- Instant access for your staff to IT support via chat or telephone
- Resolution of problems from any location as IT technicians can often share a user’s screen to rectify any issues
- Saving on time, money and frustration, enabling employees to meet deadlines without having to wait around for faults to be resolved
- Attention given to cybersecurity, an area often neglected by small businesses; the right software updates, security patches and anti-virus fixes can be applied
- In-house IT staff can be freed to work on more strategic tasks rather than being tied up with constant firefighting tasks.
Measures to counteract the spread of coronavirus look set to be with us for a while. It makes sense to establish reliable IT support for your business. Even after the current crisis is over your company will continue to feel the benefits of having established a responsive WFH infrastructure, whether for business-as-usual or as part of emergency business planning in the event of future disruptions such facility issues, extreme weather or even further pandemic issues.
Coronavirus: Brits work from home as businesses adapt to virus pandemic | 5 News
Whether you’d like to work directly with a managed IT service or use it as a seamless extension of your in-house IT Department, consider using the excellent Premium User Support service offered by 360ict Ltd.
360ict specialises in supporting the ICT needs of small businesses. It offers everything from instant desktop support to a bespoke managed service and can help you save on time and money.