While the initial scramble to get employees set up for remote working home may seem a distant memory now, you should still consider whether your remote-working arrangements are the best they could be.
Many businesses will have allowed their employees to work from personal devices and while this path offers convenience it can also be a minefield in terms of data security. Similarly, in the hope of normality resuming, its likely many businesses left telephony out of their remote-working plans, resulting in no ability to transfer calls between employees and clunky, staccato communication experience for customers.
While we’ve seen a degree of normality returning to the world of work over the past month or so, working from home remains the government’s recommendation where it is feasible to do so. Implemented properly, remote working can have many benefits; productivity can improve, employees will enjoy a better work-life balance, lengthy commutes are eliminated, and it’s even been shown to improve employee retention and reduce absence rates.
‘Implemented properly’ is the key phrase here, as when too many compromises are made, working from home can also present challenges in terms of productivity, data security and operational performance. In terms of infrastructure, computers and telephony are your 2 main considerations. Let’s consider each of these in more detail.
BYOD, COPE, COBO and CYOD – to provide or not to provide?
If you’ve ever looked into issuing your staff with work devices to enable remote working you’ve likely encountered some of the acronyms above. But what do they mean?
- BYOD (Bring your own device) – Employees use their own devices to access business resources. This gives you the least control.
- CYOD (Choose your own device) – Employees choose a device from a pre-approved list and the business then buys, manages, and retains ownership of the device. Affords much greater control than BYOD due to remote management.
- COPE (Company-owned, personally enabled) – Devices are supplied by a business that and managed by the IT department but also set up to enable personal use. It avoids the need for employees to carry separate devices for personal and work use.
- COBO (company-owned, business only) – This is where a business provides a device and sets it up strictly for business activities. This option offers the greatest level of control for employers and is particularly suitable where high levels of compliance requirements are involved.
For many small to medium-sized businesses, a BYOD program is tempting as there are no hardware overheads to be borne by the company. However, allowing staff to use their own devices almost always means relinquishing control, as employees may be reluctant to agree to mobile device management (MAM) on their personal devices. Having a comprehensive BYOD policy is essential where personal devices are concerned, but again, limited control means this policy will largely rely on employees acting in good faith, which may not be a risk you’re willing to take where sensitive data is concerned.
CYOD, COPE and COBO programmes will give your IT team much greater control and oversight over all aspects of device management, security and access control.
Providing devices and protecting them with remote device management is the most effective way to ensure data security. Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Management and Security platform provides a comprehensive set of tools to ensure your remote workforce is operating securely. Incorporated within this platform is Microsoft Intune, an endpoint management platform that helps your secure data, manage access, configure security settings and much more.
Hosted VoIP – receive and make calls from anywhere, as though you were in the office.
“If only there were away, I could use my business’ phone system while working remotely.”
Fear not; hosted VoIP could be just what you’re looking for. If you use a traditional private branch exchange system in your office, you may have thought that this was a technology you’d simply have to live without when working from home. Hosted VoIP (often known as a Hosted PBX) simply takes traditional telephony infrastructure and hosts it in the cloud. Users can then access the call interface through a portal or a dedicated VoIP handset and make calls from anywhere using a single phone number. It essential virtualises your office phone system. There is a huge range of Hosted VoIP providers out there, each offering a unique range of features at varying price points. Remote access is an obvious benefit of VoIP telephony, but it has many other advantages over traditional telephony:
- Private branch exchange without the infrastructure. Hosted PBX doesn’t require investment in a physical PBX server as everything is cloud-hosted. Additionally, phone lines aren’t necessary, all that is required is an internet connection.
- Reduced running costs. It’s estimated VoIP can reduce phone bills by an average of 40%. If your business makes a high volume of international calls the savings would likely be much higher.
- A plethora of useful features! A hosted PBX can give you access to all the features of a traditional PBX and more. Caller ID, call forwarding, call transfer, call logs, ‘do not disturb,’ call recording and much more.
- Unified business communications to drive productivity. Some hosted PBX services incorporate other business tools into a single interface, vastly improving communication efficiency among your team.
- Leverage a single phone number with the ability to transfer calls. Maintain a single point of contact and improve the service experience for your customers.
Microsoft Business Voice – Hosted PBX through Microsoft Teams
Users of Microsoft 365 can incorporate a Hosted PBX phone system into Microsoft Teams by subscribing to Microsoft Business Voice. This enables users to bring business-grade telephony into the Teams interface, resulting in a sleek, all-in-one communications hub incorporating instant messaging, video conferencing and telephony in a single unified space.
Investing a little today in robust, remote-working solutions that will stand the test of time could pay dividends in the long run. Secure, managed and high-performance devices will help your staff stay productive while keeping your data secure. While a modest investment in Hosted VoIP could futureproof your business’ communications and give you the ability to work remotely without compromise.
How can I get the ball rolling?
As part of the government’s economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic, packages of grant funding are to be announced to help businesses make efficiency transitions. These grants of between £1000 and £5000 could help your business innovate and optimise its IT system, to drive efficiency and productivity gains using some of the ideas we’ve discussed above.
Struggling to find a solution that fits around your business?
At Cloudscape, we use our extensive experience to deliver custom-fit technology solutions to SMEs in London and the home counties. Technology should serve your business’ aims and aspirations, it shouldn’t be something to mould your operation around. We are experts in Cloud-computing and we know how empowering Cloud Services can be when leveraged correctly, so let us help you tailor Office 365 so that it works for your business and the unique challenges you face. Call us on 0207 952 8123 or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.