Last year brought a lot of business disruption; accommodating remote working facilities practically overnight, closing and reopening businesses, facing hardships... Fast forward to today, we’re in the backend of another lockdown. Some businesses have adapted to the ‘new normal’ and kept permanent remote working as a solution, whilst others are working towards hybrid models once things start to relax.
Read what our team has to say around what challenges various businesses have faced and will face, and what technologies helped address these concerns.
Remote working challenges
Undoubtedly, the sudden switch to remote working created various technology issues for businesses and their staff. Many were unprepared and challenged due to not having adequate resources to enable remote working for their entire workforce.
1. Remote access
Multiple businesses struggled to move seamlessly into a remote way of working for a number of reasons, including being dependant on their office-based services and insufficient/unsecure connections.
Remote working solutions – Communication and collaboration in the cloud:
Pre-pandemic, a lot of the projects we were working on at OryxAlign were based around moving businesses from traditional in-office servers into the Cloud. Since the overnight switch to remote working, cloud computing has enabled businesses to continue to operate seamlessly, and our Cloud team had/has been very busy with various Microsoft migrations.
Many of our clients now have improved collaboration amongst their workforces with services like SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams. These tools combined through Microsoft 365 has enabled ‘anywhere access’ and has allowed a richer experience for teams to securely store, access and collaborate with one another. Not only has this enabled remote work, but it’s also enforced productivity gains across teams.
A key advantage a client of ours benefited from after their 365 migration, was the ability to control file sharing and access. Due to highly sensitive information, they were looking for a secure solution that will help employees not just collaborate, but share information safely. With 365, our team was able to change the settings of SharePoint and OneDrive, and therefore update permissions and user access to certain files and folders.
OneDrive and SharePoint
Every business has different needs, so naturally our clients required different solutions. Some were seeking secure ways for remote workers to share, access and collaborate on files with another, in which case OneDrive and SharePoint worked best. But other clients needed the full experience which would enable secure storage, collaboration, and communication via Teams and Exchange – hence why 365 was a more feasible option.
Microsoft Surface Meeting Rooms
Not all businesses have took the full remote working approach, many needed a more hybrid model. We were approached by a client looking to invest in meetings rooms in order to brings team together and in the same place, regardless of if they were working at home, or in the office. Technology such as Microsoft Surface Meeting Rooms was supplied which enhanced their meeting experience and improved collaboration between office and remote workers.
Many businesses weren’t in the position to migrate to the cloud, so for those that could only access their company network through the office, a VPN was extremely vital. They enabled remote workers to access the company network and access any files that were necessary for their day to day role.
But if anything, the switch to remote working has only amplified the need to adopt new technologies in order to streamline processes and not just the remote working experience. We personally recommend migrating to 365, OneDrive and SharePoint to modernise your applications, and give your remote workers a more flexible and collaborative solution for remote working. This way, you can diminish the need for VPN’s and worry less about the security of your data.
Businesses quickly realised they needed to supply staff with the right equipment to set up an appropriate work environment. And it wasn’t long before procurement teams were swept away with a surge of orders! Laptops sales surged - the market grew by 13% from the previous year and Dell said it shipped 50.3 million PCs during 2020!
The growing demand meant our team was also busy and rapidly supplying necessary equipment to clients.
The pandemic has enhanced the importance of procurement teams. After all they are a strategic function, and in a time where everything changed overnight, they were the key people who were working towards providing the necessary resources for businesses to be able to continue running.
2. External communication
Another issue created was that some businesses were unreachable via phones due to their physical phone systems being on premise. Unfortunately, their only source of communication with external people trying to contact them was through email.
Many businesses opted to invest into cloud based phone systems which would allow workforces to answer calls from home, such as 3CX – a full-featured communication system. This enabled remote staff to keep contact with clients and external people through a web client, or even answer calls directly from their app on their smartphone.
3. Security concerns
Since the introduction of remote working last March, in March 2020 alone cyber scams leaped by over 400%. Cyber criminals were well underway of taking advantage of the crisis and the publics emotions, particularly through phishing attempts.
Businesses were increasingly receiving spam and phishing attempts, causing not only fears of breaches, but also affecting employee productivity.
Last year, we launched a new endpoint security service – Securyx. As the sophistication and frequency of cyber attacks continue to rise, it’s clear that traditional anti-virus solutions are no longer feasible to combat evolving threats. Many of our clients have switched from their previous service to Securyx which focuses on 24x7 threat monitoring and response. This has enabled them to gain an enhanced endpoint security service which strengthens the protection, resilience, and business continuity of their IT infrastructure.
If you’re still stuck with a traditional anti-virus product, it may be time to give your security a re-think! Simply tackling issues when they happen isn’t enough, you need a proactive solution that will prevent and detect first.
Security Awareness Training
As phishing attempts continued to rise, so did the concern for many employers for their business and their users. Especially since many employees are still unable to identify phishing attempts. This, combined with the stresses the pandemic created, has left many employees vulnerable, and more likely to click or download dangerous links.
It takes just one user to take the wrong step and cause disruption to the entire business. So to combat this issue, many companies and a handful of our clients have been planning security awareness programs with platforms such as KnowBe4. The platform has been helping businesses to build training programs in order to enforce behavioural change amongst their employees.
We highly recommend employers investing in security training, and not just singular training days, but instead regular and consistent training. There is research to suggest that ongoing training is far more effective than ‘one off’ security training days.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has heightened the number of security concerns, particularly around email security and growing concern over employees. Take Shionogi for example - they voiced their concerns over a rise in spam and spoofed emails and therefore approached our team for a solution. Our experts analysed their infrastructure, and suggested Mimecast to provide next generation protection against advanced email-borne threats.
The result? An immediate decrease in spoofed and spam emails. Before Mimecast was implemented, Shionogi were getting around 100 threat emails a month. But since Mimecast, they benefitted from control and oversight into what emails were being sent through to their business.
Remote working advice for employers
1. Listen to your employees
The biggest challenge remote workers are going through is balancing work/life balance, all whilst dealing with the emotions the pandemic has brought, and that’s why still need to show our human side. Our CEO, Carl Henriksen commented “Work will happen, but managers need to take into account of regular catch ups with staff to check in on their wellbeing”.
2. Support new starters
New starters are in for a big change, with previous new starters beginning their work in the office, many are now adapting to getting use to a new company from being at home, and with little contact. We recommend regular catch-up meetings and planned inductions to help new starters familiarise themselves with your company.
3. Provide the necessary equipment
Not all remote workers have the appropriate space to work, some are making do with what they have. It’s important for managers to support their employees by providing the necessary resources to comfortably work remotely, whether that’s laptops, monitors, desks, or chairs.
4. Regular virtual work events
With the outside world shut, social contact is something that we all need to keep going, even if that means virtually. Businesses should organise regular, virtual social events to keep workers connected with one another.
The future of remote working
It’s here to stay
This probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but we’re into a year of remote working and leaders have now grasped that their workforce is more than capable of completing tasks whilst being at home. Remote working has also helped many workers establish a work/life balance, and for some it’s even saving them time on commute costs. The benefits can go on and on, but this definitely is the ‘new normal’ way of working.
Whether companies take the hybrid approach or the full remote working approach, either way it’s here to stay in one form another.
Talent acquisition will change
Many businesses were only recruiting candidates based on their specific needs. E.g. Geographical locations. But now, many leaders have acknowledged that employees are able to work from home and remain just as productive as they would be in the office.
For this reason, our team anticipate that recruitment managers will begin to be flexible about where remote workers reside and will start to expand their search internationally, and not just in the area where the business’s office is.
This is a huge benefit for not just employers, but candidates too. While employers will be able to broaden their search to find new talent, candidates will have more opportunities in finding a new role with employers offering ‘work from anywhere’ positions.
If you’re still struggling with technology challenges that have derived from the pandemic, we’re here to help!