Contingency planning and home worker resources
If you are responsible for workforce contingency planning please read the following information.
Returning to the workplace…
21 May 2020
Whilst the government’s “Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)” guidance clearly states that people should “stay at home as much as possible” and “work from home if you can”, many companies are now reviewing what actions they can take to start their journey towards the new-normal.
In the rush to get everyone up and running from home there were lots of decisions made in the heat of the moment. When planning a return to work there will be things you will want to consider at a slower pace. By taking the time now to think about how your staff will return to their normal duties you will be able to plan more effectively and avoid disruption to your business as things start to get back to normal.
Some of the things you need to consider are…
- Returning equipment: think about how you will re-install equipment that was taken home by staff, things like power supplies, cables and other items can get lost or broken if not properly managed.
- Data: you need to make sure all company data is secured and back where it should be. Check if staff have created duplicate copies of documents or other data when they were working ‘offline’ or using their own equipment. Remember if people start saving multiple copies of the same document to company shares you can risk data being overwritten. It is also worth remembering that for most customers the only data being backed up is the data on your server.
- Security: as you bring staff back from furlough you may need to unpick any permissions-changes that were made to allow other people access to mailboxes, data, or file shares.
- Workstations: the latest advice is to “maintain social distancing between individuals when they are at their workstations” and to “avoid the use of hot desks” this means you may need to consider how you deploy IT systems and distribute existing resources.
- Shadow-IT: have staff found their own solutions to specific problems, have they started using alternative software or systems to get their work done, to share documents or to communicate? Once you return to work you should ensure only approved systems are being used. Most information sharing, collaboration and communication can be done using your Microsoft 365 applications, speak to your account manager if you need help reviewing what apps you should be using.
…if staff have been working remotely it would be useful to ask them to restart devices a few days before returning to the office. This will allow any pending updates to be applied and prevent any delays when you are ready to move equipment again. It would also be beneficial to turn on any workstations that reside in the workplace a couple of days before you need them. This will allow any outstanding updates to be processed by our remote management tools.
As it looks likely that most organisations will implement some kind of ‘split workforce’ with some staff returning to company premises and some working from home you should also consider that phased returns or ‘work-share’ arrangements could place additional demands on your IT systems. This could be as simple as needing additional hardware, so people are not sharing the same physical equipment (see point 4 above). You may also need to consider the additional load on your network and IT systems as you communicate between staff in work and staff at home.
As well as planning for a return to ‘office life’ several of our customers are now considering how some of their workforce could continue to work from home, either full-time or on a part-time basis. If you are looking at more permanent home working within your business, speak to your account manager to see how we can help you ensure your IT systems are optimally configured for security, productivity and the ‘modern workplace’.
Enabling users to work from home…
24 March 2020
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic we have been getting a lot of our customer’s end-users contacting the Service Desk asking to be set-up to work from home. The service desk is not authorized to make changes to enable home working without the proper approval from your organisation. If you are a primary contact we kindly ask that you help to ensure that requests for things like working from home, VPN connections or remote access are coordinated within your business. By engaging with your account manager we will be able to complete a planned set of activities rather than processing individual requests from your staff, this also reduces the need to chase you for approvals on multiple tickets.
Whilst a lot of our customers have had to make quick decisions on how their staff can continue to work from home it is vital that information security isn’t forgotten, cyber criminals are already targeting home workers as well as those worried about the impact of Coronavirus on their businesses. As a reminder the following are the only two supported ways your staff should access your company data when working remotely…
- Only use company issued equipment to access your network and resources via VPN
- Use of personal laptops and PCs should be restricted to Remote Desktop Gateway and Terminal Servers only, you should not connect personal devices to your VPN
Your Zenzero account manager will be contacting you over the next few weeks to review your company’s security posture and to help with any longer-term planning as it is critical that any IT changes are properly reviewed, planned and implemented.
Please also note that…
- Not all changes will be quick to implement
- Not all business applications (e.g. Sage) or IT resources are suitable for accessing from home
- If you have an existing remote access solution or staff already work remotely on an ad hoc basis, please remember this solution will not necessarily scale to allow your entire business to work from home
- There may be costs relating to changing your IT configurations, or in implementing additional licenses to enable home working for your staff
- There is a global shortage of IT equipment, especially laptops, so you may not be able to buy suitable equipment in time to meet your contingency needs
- The shortage is also impacting lead-times for new user equipment so keep this in mind if you are recruiting
If you are the primary contact at a Zenzero customer and you haven’t already spoken with us please contact your Account Manager or email email@example.com.
If you are an end-user at one of Zenzero’s customers please visit this page for information on remote working https://zenzero.co.uk/remote-working/.