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Crown Commercial Service advises on remote working tech

Public sector organisations want to understand their options to support their workforce during the Covid-19 crisis

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has provided advice for public sector organisations around technology options available to support remote working during the coronavirus lockdown.

According to CCS, a number of its customers have been in touch to ask for support in understanding and planning for home working arrangements.

The non-exhaustive list is grouped into the areas of compute, security and access, network and remote working tools. CCS noted that for any free software, organisations would need to seek approval from their IT departments, so any new applications are in line with their software asset management and deployment processes.

On the compute area, CCS noted that customers should be able to access new devices in small amounts (low hundreds at the most), but stressed that stock levels for devices have been heavily impacted.

Large-scale requirements are unlikely to be met fast, especially when it comes to new equipment, according to CCS. Organisations should consider refurbished equipment, it said, adding that orders of thousands of devices will have to wait a month or longer.

According to the CCS, the resellers and manufacturers it works with already have a number of bundles available to assist with home working, as well as off-the-shelf laptops and hardware. These range from complete mobility-as-a-service options to bundles of screens and peripherals which can be utilised where work desktops are being taken off-site for remote working.

Buyers can use CCS’s simplified further competition facility under the Technology Products and Associated Services (TePAS) framework to get quick quotes for stock that is available immediately.

On security and access, the advice published by the Crown Commercial Service mentions the 90-day free usage of Cisco’s Umbrella, Duo and AnyConnect applications, which cover secure web use and secure sign in.

When it comes to network requirements, CCS noted that external network bandwidth may have to be considered in some organisations for set-ups as staff are now accessing networks and applications remotely in far greater numbers. This would depend on criteria including the number of employees accessing services remotely.

Mobile data is also a consideration listed in the CCS advice, which suggests public sector buyers monitor the increase in use of mobile data, especially when there are broadband issues and staff need to tether devices to be able to access mobile data via their laptop.

The advice also lists the need for sharing good working practices, such as switching video off to reduce data flows across the network, as well as the need for conferencing services, which are also available via a direct award option.  

Regarding remote working tools, CCS listed examples such as Microsoft’s Office 365 E1 package, which is available for six months on an extended trial and Google’s free access offer of advanced Hangouts Meet video conferencing capabilities, as well as a free 90-day licence for Cisco’s Webex platform, which are all available to public sector organisations.

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