We have some answers to common questions we’re getting asked about IT essentials, to ensure your business is ready for the ‘new normal’.

First, let’s set some context. At the time of writing, the latest UK government advice is that millions of people will need to continue to work from home for the ‘foreseeable future’ and adapt to a ‘new normal’. Which is concerning for those who don’t like change or aren’t comfortable with technology!

We’re all currently talking about if, how and when we’ll return to our offices and what ‘the new normal’ will look like.

For example, how many people will continue to work from home after lockdown finishes? Will the pandemic return, sending us all back home again? Are our business systems and processes flexible enough to accommodate this?

Before and after

IT essentials for the new way of working. Before the virus hit most people weren’t used to working remotely. The Office for National Statistics’ figures show that around 1.7 million people reported working mainly from home between January and December 2019.

Compare this figure with a survey by UK comparison site Finder.com which found that now, 60% of the UK’s adult population (over 53 million) are working from home. Their report highlighted the many benefits of remote working, such as cost savings, improved productivity and environmental pluses. In fact, the internet is awash with people pointing these out! However, this same survey threw up the drawbacks – citing that 62% of remote workers want employers to provide better technology that helps them stay connected.

Which begs the question: will the ‘new normal’ actually work for you and your business?

How long before we’re fed up with ‘the new normal’ because we lack IT essentials?

Like other buzzwords (digital transformation comes to mind), people will get fed up of hearing about the ‘new normal’ if it doesn’t work for them – be that due to the cost, fear of technology or the lack of support and guidance. Because us humans just want our computers, phones etc., to be reliable and work, wherever we are! And our colleagues may not be available to help.

For example, you might be trying to run effective meetings via video conference or wanting to connect with several people in the same telephone call. The tools you use might have been deployed rapidly and you don’t need the added stress of looking unprofessional in front of clients. So here are our solutions …

Q’s and A’s on IT essentials for the ‘new normal’:

1. My computer is running slow. Both broadband and mobile networks are being used more during the Covid-19 pandemic and your entire family may be online in your home simultaneously. The first step is to test the speed on your broadband line. You can do this using Ofcom’s mobile and broadband checker. To get a good assessment, test it over a couple of days and try to do so at different times.

2. My wifi signal is poor. Check your router’s position – place it off the floor and in a central position relative to all the rooms you want to receive signal. Did you know that it can be affected by other electrical and wireless devices? Move the router at least five feet away from them. This includes smart TVs, computer monitors, halogen lamps, some baby-listening systems. Also, using a microwave oven may affect the signal, so perhaps avoid it if someone is making a business video conference call. Upgrade from your internet providers’ wireless to a good quality wireless point if you’re still having problems.

3. I’m worried about my home network security and data breaches. It’s awful being hacked and, worse, it may damage your financial standing and business reputation. Most home networks are very insecure and are a major accident waiting to happen. Ensure you have done the following as a minimum:

  • Pay for (don’t use free) antivirus software on all computers in your home.
  • Change the default password of your broadband router.
  • Apply the latest software updates to all devices you use on your home internet (that includes smart devices such as TVs and networking devices such as your routers and wireless).

4. I can’t access my work systems and files at home. Cloud technology can be deployed safely from any location and from any device, personal or business. It gives you the latest communication and collaboration tools essential for remote workers, like:

• Your favourite calendars and time-management systems, to improve your productivity.
• Fast access to your company’s shared files and documents from anywhere.
• A professional cloud phone system which will make it easy for you to reach prospects, clients and colleagues – and for them to engage with you, inbound or outbound, wherever you are.

We hope you find these IT essentials useful.

If/when you return to the office, you may be thinking that you just want it to be like it was, before the disruption caused by Covid-19. But perhaps this is the time to make it better? Your office IT will need updating too.

Have a chat with us about how to make your systems more agile and secure, so you can be productive, whether you’re working at home, in the office, or elsewhere!