As the corona virus is expanding at a rapid rate across the World we’ve been proactively helping our clients plan for extending remote working capabilities for their staff. Whilst most clients do have the facilities to allow for remote working, understanding what your IT is capable of is an important part of keeping your practice running should you have to send staff home or shut your offices completely. Communicating clearly with the practice what is possible, how to do it and setting the right expectations to performance and user experience is part of journey to successfully rolling out the service.
Most of our clients have remote capabilities using thin client technologies such as Remote Desktop Server or Citrix for key or all staff. These thin client technologies are the best way to get access to all applications out of the office. If these technologies are to be expanded across more staff consider the following as part of your review.
- Internet connectivity – where the remote servers are located, can you measure that there is enough bandwidth to service more staff? If Internet bandwidth is already at capacity it is unlikely during the next couple of weeks you will be able to obtain a bandwidth increase from your supplier so setting expectations on user experience may be slower at times when more staff are connected.
- Server performance – have the remote servers got the capability to scale performance to cope with additional staff connecting in, particularly focused on the amount of processor and memory?
- Licenses – do you require more application licenses to allow for remote working?
- Computers – what will happen with staff that do not have laptop computers or thin client technology? If reviewing your practice in to 3 operational areas – fee earners, support and accounts staff, what access to applications do they need? Can IT create access to applications to support directly what each team require? If staff are using their own computers, do they meet the IT security policies you may have in place in your practice?
- Supply chain – Most electronic components for IT hardware is manufactured in China and production has reduced or stopped temporarily. Together with a surge in businesses purchasing more laptops to support remote working we are now seeing stock shortages for laptops across IT distribution in the UK. Are you prepared for not being able to get the equipment you may require?
- Documentation – are staff clear on how to access IT services remotely? There will also be the involvement of HR for remote working, particularly for working at home.
- Cyber threat – Corona virus is a perfect opportunity for Cyber criminals to take advantage of the theme to launch phishing and other cyber threats against your practice – please remain as vigilant as ever and read this link from the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51838468
- Telephones – Planning what will happen around the incoming phone number, are calls to this number answered by reception, hunt groups for different departments or all staff? Can your phone system be configured easily so clients are services in the same way? Most phone systems will allow the incoming calls to be diverted to staff mobiles whether it be connected via traditional ISDN or through the Internet. The majority of our clients have a cloud telephone system so simply moving the handset to home can work.
- Testing – We’ve advised our clients to test remote working and document the experience from configuration to usage, so any problems can be resolved early and to improve service load on our team.
Service to our clients
Currently it is still business as usual, although like you we are closely following the media and taking the governments advice to best practice which has been issued to our staff. We have remote working capability in place to keep service running and using technology such as Microsoft Teams to support internal communications. We have reviewed our supply chain and they are also taking the same contingency planning to allow remote working. Service desk response, engineering visits from us and third party suppliers maybe limited whilst resource is planned for around availability and risk to staff.
Should you require any help in the meantime please get in touch with us here.