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Are users ready as coronavirus sparks more remote working?

More firms are starting to send staff home as the coronavirus continues to spread, but there are concerns their technology is not up to supporting more remote access

One of the more immediate reactions by some employers to the threat of the coronavirus has been to encourage more home working.

A number of firms have hit the headlines because of the advice they have given to staff to stay away from offices, including Chevron’s Canary Wharf operation, Crossrail and OMD.

Rufus Grig, chief strategy officer at Maintel, said that one of the main concerns was enabling staff to connect remotely securely, with challenges around the infrastructure and performance.

“Simply asking staff to take a laptop home and carry on working as usual will not be sufficient – productivity could fall, and companies could leave themselves open to a costly cyber attack if employees don’t connect securely,” he said.

“First, ask yourselves whether staff know best practice for connecting to systems when working from home, and whether you have plans in place so workers can connect securely to your systems.

“Security is a key consideration, as a hack would not only be damaging and costly, but could mean companies are in breach of regulations, such as GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation]. Second, ask whether staff have the right tools to collaborate no matter where they are based.

“Over the coming weeks, we are likely to see more companies send workers home. The time is now for businesses to get their plans in place to ensure they are prepared for remote working.

“If IT teams are under too much pressure to activate these plans, businesses could always turn to freelance support or have the headache taken away by a managed services provider. Regardless, they must ensure productivity or security isn’t compromised,” added Grig.

For many firms, this will be a test of their ability to provide staff with the tools and infrastructure to work remotely, but the chances are that many will be found wanting.

SCC’s Workplace productivity IT insights report has found that more than two-thirds of IT decision-makers believe that their technology is outdated.

The findings from the report indicate that there has been a surge in the demand from workers for remote working in the past two years – before the current issues around the virus emerged.

Now it has added some more analysis around the tech issues, with many finding that the kit used in the office has fallen behind the IT used at home.

“Workplace productivity has been high on the corporate agenda for some time, but it’s true that some businesses are way behind the curve. The modern workplace continues to evolve, and SCC believe it is vital to keep pace with advancements in technology. Much of the data we’ve analysed supports this view,” said James Greene, chief technology officer at SCC.

“Of particular interest to SCC is how both the public sector and commercial sector face the same challenges when it comes to evolving their modern workplace and, like SCC, put users at the heart of their thinking,” he added.

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