Categories
Online IT Support - News

Adapting your business to working from home

It has been a difficult time for most of us over the recent weeks. We are clearly not out of the woods just yet although some businesses, mainly in the manufacturing and construction industries, are now returning to work. Early indications are that business owners are finding it difficult to get many of their key members of staff back to work due to childcare challenges. With schools remaining closed, staff are finding that they are unable to find suitable care for their children during the time when they would need to be at work.

There are, however, ways in which we can adapt to cope with some of these circumstances. There is a mixture of opportunities that can soften the blow, although few of them are ideal for anyone. Staggering working times so that parents can take it in turns to look after their children is one idea. There are also very interesting and affordable ways in which technology can help, too. Working from home is not just becoming normal, it’s becoming a necessity.

Historically, most businesses have operated from a central office. Everyone traveled to and from the office at the same times and shared the same office space. This was considered to be normal. The very different times we find ourselves in right now are demanding that we re-assess what ‘normal’ looks like. As business owners, we must therefore start to ask very deep and searching questions of ourselves and our previous levels of expectation. Fundamentally, we need to ask whether the business could adapt to survive if a certain person, or group of people, were not physically present in the office. If that person was able to do their job but from a remote location then could that work? It may be uncomfortable and inconvenient but if our natural answer is ‘no’, then we should then ask ourselves if this answer change to a ‘yes’ if the alternative was that you had to to close our business?

Your Computer Department is 20 years old and, although we have had offices previously, it may surprise some readers to know that we’ve actually been working from home for the last 10 years. We have first-hand experience of creating a professional, yet paperless office and have an environment where every function can be operated as long as everyone has a basic internet connection. As a general rule of thumb, most staff only need the following:

  • Access to files
  • Access to emails
  • Access to telephony

It is worth noting that access to printing/scanning is useful but this is not always essential for every member of staff. In fact, we rarely use these functions in our own office because we have adapted our systems to not need it. We occasionally scan something that someone sends to us so that we can make it available to all of us prior to shredding it, but I can’t remember the last time I actually printed anything for our business.

The gap between what you have now, and the truly location-free setup that we operate here may appear to be be a wide one. Manufacturing, in particular, need factory or workshop space. However, there are many functions that are admin-based and simply need a computer. Most manufacturing businesses rely heavily on their admin staff – and it is typically these admin staff that are key to the efficiency of your business. Could your business work if some or all of your staff worked from home?

So, as you consider your 2-metre distancing rules and discuss your return to work plans, you should also consider that technology is here that can quickly and cost effectively transform your business into the flexible post-pandemic workplace of the future.

Microsoft Office 365 offers many of the elements required in order to adapt to working from home. In fact, as most businesses already use Office 365, it can often be as simple as switching features on or setting them up for you. Whatever your unique situation is, please give me a call and I’ll personally help you to evolve your business thrive as the new, modern workplace.


Please stay alert, work from home if you can, I wish everyone and their families well during this continuing situation.

Talk to us TODAY about our automated email signatures.

Categories
Online IT Support - News

How to work from home – Professionally!

Working from home is great. We know this because we at Your Computer Department have been doing just this for several years now. However, it comes with a strong warning:

DO NOT LOSE SIGHT OF PROFESSIONALISM!

We’ve all seen a marked change in the way that people have worked over recent weeks. In these early days, it has been socially acceptable to appear relaxed and openly share our non-business-related daytime activities. This is good, and working from home is set to become a major part of many people’s lives for the future. However, professionalism will need to return to the workplace – be that an office or a home.

So, what can you do to present a professional appearance while enjoying the benefits of daytime retail therapy, a trip to the hair salon, a mid-afternoon school run, a dash to the gym or a walk in the park?

Well, one way we have become used to keeping in touch with our clients is via email. Unfortunately, emails have a habit of being urgent and often cannot wait for a well formatted reply from your PC – instead, you may feel you need to reply ‘on the hoof’. The problem with this is the formatting of an email from a mobile device often looks very different to one from a PC. Gone is the carefully crafted branding across the footer – it’s simply been replaced by something like ‘Sent from my iPhone’. The game is up – you’ve been rumbled!

This is where you need an automated email signature. Simply turn off your standard signature and send your email. Your corporate branding is added automatically to your email – regardless of whether you sent it from your PC, your iPad, your mobile phone or even logging in through a web browser on your friend’s PC.

The recipient of your email won’t know that your having your hair done or that you’re having a pint at the local with your mates. You could literally be anywhere – and remain professional at the same time.

Talk to us TODAY about our automated email signatures.

Categories
Online IT Support - News

Solving Your Remote Connectivity Issues

The number one question we’ve been asked over the past 14 days is “Can you help us work from home?”. This has kept us extremely busy, as you might imagine.

The second most popular question has been “Can you please do something about the speed of our remote connection?”. The answer is yes. The solution can come in many forms – and can be a mixture of all of them.

Microsoft Teams offers you a simple, yet feature-packed, video conferencing system. Not only can you talk to your colleagues with full video and audio, you can blur your background, make written notes, demonstrate your ideas with a team whiteboard and share your desktop screen to show your work in progress.

Check your broadband.

One useful tool is a broadband speed test. You can do this yourself for your home broadband with tools such as https://speedtest.net which will give you a good indication of the performance you can expect. Here’s some tips:

  • 1. Ensure that you are not connected to your office or any other VPN before you start the test.
  • 2. Ensure that nobody else is using the internet in your house while you run the test.
  • 3. Ideally, connect your computer directly to your router with a network cable to ensure that your wifi doesn’t slow your test’s performance.
  • 4. Test results guidelines:
    • Ping: This number should ideally be a number LESS than 50ms. The lower the number, the better your service. Ideally, this number would be less than 20ms.
    • Download: This number should be as HIGH as possible. Expect to receive a number HIGHER than 5Mbs. Ideally, this figure would be in excess of 20Mbs.
    • Upload: This number should also be as HIGH as possible but is generally a lower number than the download figure. Expect this to be no lower than 0.5Mbps or 500Kbps (These are roughly the same value but written in different units). Ideally, this figure should be in excess of 10Mbps.

If your home broadband is good enough then talk to your colleagues. If everyone else is also experiencing slow connections to the office, then it is worth considering upgrading your business’s broadband speed if at all possible. Most of the time, this can be done by simply paying more money to your service provider. However, it’s also worth checking whether your internet service provider intends to send a new router in order to achieve this – if so, it might be worth reconsidering your options as simply plugging it in straight in may not work and you may need on-site support which could be tricky in the current climate. Please talk to us before placing an order that would result in you needing to take any action other than paying more money.

Improve Productivity with Microsoft Teams

Change the way you work.

Another way to take a load off your office broadband is to reduce the number of people that need to connect by making most, or even all, of your data cloud-based. This means that your files and documents are stored securely on the internet instead of on the office network. Your team then securely accesses the files directly from their own internet connection instead of clogging up your office’s internet connection.

There are many cloud-based file storage solutions but the most popular and up-to-date is Microsoft Teams. Not only does this provide a fantastic file storage facility, but it also unlocks many other valuable systems to make it exceptionally easy to collaborate with your colleagues, customers and suppliers.

Audio and video calling similar to Skype comes bundled in Microsoft Teams with the ability to schedule video meetings with many people at once, access to a meeting whiteboard, attach files, make meeting notes and even continue a text-based conversation thread after the meeting. There are many other features that give the ‘Wow-Factor’ and are guaranteed to impress even your most stubborn colleagues!

Talk to us TODAY about managed Microsoft Teams implementations and how we can guide you and your staff to a more modern, cloud-based, business model – freed from the ties of your office network.

Just give us a call on 0115 8240825 for more information.

Categories
Online IT Support - News

Microsoft Teams – Enabling business as usual throughout COVID-19

Coronavirus is set to make physical meetings very difficult in 2020. Guidance from the UK government, large organisations and the government intends to slow the spread of the virus by reducing unnecesary social and business contact. This poses a sudden new challenge to businesses since traditional methods of holding meetings to discuss every day processes may become difficult – or even illegal. Business owners are being urged to plan alternative ways of working to enable them to continue to operate as normally as possible during the next few months.

Microsoft Teams offers you a simple, yet feature-packed, video conferencing system. Not only can you talk to your colleagues with full video and audio, you can blur your background, make written notes, demonstrate your ideas with a team whiteboard and share your desktop screen to show your work in progress.

Not only is Microsoft Teams a formidable video-conferencing tool, it is also the hub of your file sharing activity, too. On-site files servers are now being replaced by Microsoft’s latest cloud technology. It is possible to run a secure network sharing files and securing access to your company’s computers – purely with Office 365.

You may also be surprised to learn that the cost of Microsoft Teams is included in the mailbox subscription that you are already paying. That’s right – you already have the ability to use these features. They just need to be structured correctly for your business.

At Your Computer Department, we are experienced Microsoft Teams migrators. We will structure your Teams, migrate your data, tweak your PCs and then show you how to use it effortlessly. We do all of this for you using our ‘magic’ remote-access technology, too. This means that we can migrate any business, anywhere, without sales or technical visits. Maybe you’re already in self-isolation or perhaps you’re just wanting to do your bit to slow the spread of COVID-19. Whatever your circumstances, give us a call and let us help you and your staff to work more effectively than ever with Microsoft Teams.

Contact us TODAY for more information about how Microsoft Teams can make life easier for your business.