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Leon Hughes, head of technology at Activ Technology shares advice on how to avoid potential challenges when moving between the office and home working.

As we slowly and cautiously begin moving out of COVID-19 lockdown, we are seeing signs that some employers are looking to rotate between home working and office working.

This can present a number of challenges since companies may not have the technology in place to seamlessly transition between the two. For example, many organisations made provision for home working by relocating equipment that would usually be slung under office desks.  Staff PCs found their way into private residences but given the circumstances, this approach worked as a satisfactory solution, albeit a temporary one.  Implementation of this however, was often convoluted and time consuming.  In order to maintain social distancing, many organisations have come to realise they may have to run offices at half capacity (or less) causing the temporary PC solution to become very impractical.  This would be particularly prevalent if staff are likely to attend the office on a rotational basis.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis and prior to it, we’ve advised customers to invest in cloud technology.  From a business continuity standpoint it can make a lot of sense since any Cloud design would, by its very nature, have remote working inherent in its capability.  We’re also big advocates when it comes to the latest advances in desktop virtualisation. This allows seamless office-based or remote working to the point that working location often becomes unimportant.  Coupled with cloud technology, desktop virtualisation can provide a scalable, high performance, secure and reliable infrastructure on which to conduct business.

As a company Activ has invested heavily in this area and have the inhouse knowledge to transition any sized organisation to an environment allowing a single point of administration when it comes to updating applications whilst ensuring a seamless, consistent experience for users.

Organisations that have common technology needs across multiple locations or several remote workers, will also benefit greatly.

We’ve found that cyber security considerations only amplify over time and COVID-19 has certainly been testament to this.  Implementing the right mix of foundational features sooner rather than later mean organisations can grasp these challenges and help ensure security vulnerabilities are diminished.

COVID-19 has brought about various changes in peoples’ working habits.  This has made organisations more vulnerable.  An example might be where staff have had no choice but to download corporate information on to household computers.  Appropriate anti-virus may not be in place and uncontrolled non-corporate software can lead to major security issues leading to infection, loss or unintended distribution of company data.

We have also seen several phishing incidents whereby emails purportrating to be from reputable companies induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card details.  Office 365 data can be exposed due to this or because users recycle their Office 365 passwords on unrelated websites that end up being compromised.  Automated bots try logging into office 365 using compromised credentials and when successful, company data is often stolen or misused.

Overall, new ways of working and collaborating require new approaches to managing risk. Organisations need the balance of providing workers with flexibility whilst ensuring security and data compliance needs are met.

We live in a digital era whereby organisations must contend with multiple device types such as tablets and smartphones. Using traditional security methods is simply no longer enough.

Activ Technology work with a number of key vendors. Our level of accreditation and experience means we can sell and support the top tier solutions available.  We can look at introducing Cloud technologies including Microsoft Azure and Citrix Cloud into an environment, but ultimately our advice is always driven by business need.  Certain technologies can make a lot of sense regardless, however, we are strong believers in ensuring our solutions fit the business rather than selling whatever product is flavour of the month.  The vendors we work with are chosen based on our experience and rigorous selection.  Rather than migrating everything to cloud, we often find a hybrid on premis / cloud solution is the best fit. 

Organisations often find it useful investing in technology that attracts a monthly fee rather than a capital expenditure.  Our pricing models allow organisations to start on the cloud from as little as £25 per user per month.  This would, of course, be subject to a contractual arrangement and is dependent on individual needs and professional services fees.

To learn more about this, please contact: Leon Hughes. Email: leon.Hughes@helloactiv.co.uk

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