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Monthly Archives: May 2021

Remote Working in Today’s World

This is the final blog post in our series of four on the topic of remote and hybrid working. In it, we’ll summarize what we’ve talked about in the previous three blogs and finish with a quiz so you can see how much you’ve taken in. 

The start of the Covid-19 crisis seems like it happened a long time ago. But these past 12 months or so have caused the biggest shift in working practices in modern times. Before 2020, few companies were offering their employees the chance to work from home. You’d see the occasional ‘hot desk’ company or the workers who logged onto coffee shop Wi-Fi for a change of scenery. Ultimately, though, remote working wasn’t common practice.  

A few stats 

COVID-19 changed the way we do business. Social distancing caused us to modify the way we interact. Owners are deciding how things will look in a post-pandemic world. Some business owners seem to have a “trust” issue with employees they cannot keep an eye on. Many workers and businesses don’t see a complete return to office working anytime soon. 

Pre-pandemic, less than 20% of employees across the country worked from home. 

Currently, up to 70% of employees work from home at least one day a week. And that number is expected to grow. 

Surprisingly, almost 50% of businesses in the U.S. do not allow their employees to work remotely. There are many reasons for this, but the number one reason is usually this: productivity. 

However, the statistics show a completely different story. Several studies came to the same conclusion; remote workers have less unproductive time, work more hours per week, and are up to 47% more productive than the workforce in the office. 

Moving forward, we see more of a hybrid model taking place. Many businesses were able to downsize their office space, so they can’t bring everyone back. And, the fact is, the employees are getting used to the new arrangement. At least 50% of remote employees wish to remain remote, even after the pandemic has run its course. 

The benefits of remote work

Forced to adopt the practice of remote working, many businesses call it a success. What started as a challenge has turned out to be a benefit. Most businesses are planning to keep their employees remote at least on a part-time basis.  

This means companies have had to improve the performance of their networks. Their IT infrastructure has changed to be more efficient. MSPs have certainly played a role in this and have had a big part in improving the IT systems for businesses around the world. 

Small and large companies have turned to MSPs to help them with their IT needs during the pandemic. These MSPs can access the latest technology and offer 24-7 support, Around-the-clock support isn’t possible with in-house IT teams who work 9-to-5. 

Remote working risks revealed 

Of course, with such changes, companies have experienced the downsides to remote working too. With remote workers, there’s often a higher risk of cyberattacks or security breaches. MSPs have helped in this regard too. They monitor for threats, back up data, and give peace of mind that they’re always on the lookout for threats. 

After the Pandemic 

Many companies have enjoyed the new way of working more than they anticipated in the first place. With the experience and confidence in remote working, it is thought that many companies will strive to keep at least some aspect of remote working going forward. And it will remain even once the pandemic has ceased.  

Hybrid working means different things for different companies but essentially, employees have more freedom as to their working pattern. They might be required to work in-house for one or two days a week and be at home the rest of the time, for example. There are lots of ways in which hybrid working might work but it is likely to mean that there isn’t as much need for office space in the future. With hybrid working being highly likely, we expect to see an increase in Managed IT services too. 

MSPs and the hybrid workforce 

Many companies had to adapt during the pandemic, but so did MSPs. It could be said that their challenge was greater in some ways, given that they had to learn and adapt quickly so that they could help their clients more efficiently. 

MSPs were able to help companies be available for their clients with great success and have shown how they are key partners in a company’s functionality. That’s not to say that MSPs have taken over and there is no need for in-house IT teams, quite the opposite. MSPs’ work complements that of existing in-house teams.  

Conclusion – remote work in today’s world, is it for you? If you have any questions about supporting a hybrid workforce please contact us. As a Managed Service Provider, we can help you find the perfect solution. Remember: we’re your business growth partner, so take advantage of our knowledge. 

Solving the Challenges of the Hybrid Workforce

In our last blog, we mentioned how companies have adapted their workflow amid the pandemic. We now expect that this new hybrid practice, where employees mix home working with office working, is here to stay. To put a figure on it, the Institute of Directors carried out a study, which showed that 74% of companies are going to offer support to employees who work remotely after the pandemic. Of course, this is good news for many but it is also a challenge for those in IT. 

When the majority of employees only visit the office a couple of times a week, it becomes important to have a smooth-running IT infrastructure. There are many challenges to overcome, including data security, reduced visibility, and home Wi-Fi connection issues. To work effectively and keep businesses moving forward, hybrid working needs IT support. 

COVID-19 Challenges 

The global health crisis of 2020 created many challenges for most companies. It was an opportunity for us to enhance, shift, and adapt to our new reality. Managed Service Providers quickly learned how to help businesses stay available for their clients as well as their employees at home. However, many companies still used static and inflexible network designs. This meant they had to make big changes to be able to support their remote workforce. Poor bandwidth was the first big hurdle. Security issues and increased cloud traffic meant many companies had to turn to IT professionals to help them adapt. 

MSPs as key partners 

Managed Service Providers have worked tirelessly to help solve the new problems arising from the increase in remote working. What makes MSPs effective in their role as a key partner is their relationship with the network operators. This means they can find the best available services for their clients to help them solve their problems. MSPs also help remote workers with phones, software, data storage, and security. 

An MSP complements any existing in-house team. They can monitor network security and server performance and prevent potentially costly outages by increasing security. Essentially, a good MSP minimizes disruption to key functions in a business. 

Another thing that MSPs can offer is mobility support. This means they can arrange plans and devices for remote workers to help them be just as effective at home as they were on site. Setting up phones, tablets, and webcams will ensure your team never loses connection with you. 

Cloud Technology 

With remote working at an all-time high, cloud technology has been essential. Forbes believes that almost half of the data in the world will be cloud-based in 2025. MSPs can help businesses migrate their IT infrastructure to a cloud-based system. This means employees can continue being just as productive wherever they are working. This ease of accessibility needs to be secure, and MSPs are there to help. 

Automation 

Automation can help the hybrid workforce by removing a lot of the friction they encounter. For example, repetitive processes – e.g. data entry – can be an automated task. That means employees can focus on other, more complex tasks. They become more productive as a result, which means the business can grow. 

It is also possible to automate other things, such as diagnostic tools. With automated diagnostics, employees can troubleshoot, identify and fix small issues on their own, remotely. This reduces pressure on other team members and saves the company time. 

Automation also helps improve visibility in the organization. It means that interactions, progress and updates are kept in check for all to see. This is vital to preserving transparency when hybrid working is involved. 

Final thoughts – helping companies adapt to their new ‘hybrid’ way of working 

The hybrid workplace is going to be around for a long time. Perhaps forever. MSPs can help companies embrace the changes that the pandemic forced upon them. They can help businesses maintain their continuity and provide them with the support they need for their future growth. Simply put, an MSP can help companies reap the rewards of a solid IT support base. 

If you have any issues or questions concerning your network infrastructure, or about creating a hybrid workplace, please let us know. As your MSP, we are here to help you with everything technology related. Contact us to discuss your needs!

Hybrid Workforce: Understanding Nuances and Pitfalls

Since Coronavirus turned things on their head, businesses across the globe have responded well to enforcing remote working. And now, things are on the move again. Businesses are trying to decide how things will look in a post-Covid world. Many workers and businesses don’t see a complete return to office working anytime soon, therefore introducing a hybrid workforce.

Recent surveys tell us that over 50% of workers in the U.S. favor a mix of office and home working. Other surveys predict the numbers of remote workers will double before they begin to drop. Pre-pandemic, less than 20% of employees worked at home. Whatever the final number happens to be, businesses need to be flexible to the constant changes. 

Present Arrangements 

Currently, businesses are dealing with these changes in different ways. Some companies have set dates for their employees to work remotely until the summer of 2021. Others have started to bring back people into the workplace on varied schedules. 

And some are letting the individual employee decide where to work. Everyone is trying to figure out the best possible life/work arrangement.  

Longer-term Expectations 

Companies across the globe are beginning to consider what things will look like in the long term. They’re looking at how to structure work hours, office communication, and physical presence. What many businesses are considering is a hybrid working model that combines office working with remote working. 

What would Hybrid Workforce look like? 

When we use the term ‘hybrid’, it sounds like we’re giving employees more freedom. With hybrid working, employees often decide where they work and when they work. This means employees have more autonomy to decide how their work fits in with other things in their lives. In an ideal world, hybrid working provides sociability and structure alongside flexibility and independence. 

One common approach is to decide on specific days for working ‘at the office’. On such days, there are meetings and discussions. And on ‘remote’ days individuals can focus on their own specific tasks. 

With hybrid working becoming more common, companies will likely reduce the amount of office space they rent. They simply won’t need to accommodate so many office workers at any one time. Plus, downsizing office space is a great way to trim the budget. 

 

What is the Optimal Amount of time in an Office? 

Current studies show that two days of remote working is the optimal time for balancing quiet work with collaborative work. This will also allow employees to benefit from commuting less. Of course, you need to decide what works best for your business. 

What does Hybrid Working need to be successful? 

Companies need to aim for equalization between workers. In an ideal world, all employees would attend the office during the same hours. However, this will make social distancing difficult. 

It is also important to instill an ethos of transparent communication. This means that all communication is shared with everyone equally as needed to avoid unnecessary conflict. Every employee, no matter where they are working, needs to be on the same page. 

 

How to make a Hybrid Workforce work. 

Arguably the best legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic is the improved focus on employee wellbeing and health. This is paramount to success. Prioritizing a safe working environment and healthy work practice is going to mean businesses retain workers while improving efficiency. 

Without the necessary technology, support, and resources, a hybrid team simply won’t work. The team needs to be equipped with the devices and technology they need to do their job while working remotely. Businesses need to consider video conferencing software, how to share documents and files, Wi-Fi connections, and messaging apps, just to keep track of everyone. 

It’s clear to see that remote working is going to play a big part in many businesses in the coming years and the future beyond. Companies should start planning for a hybrid workforce.  Proper planning will make it work well for you and your employees. 

If you have any questions about setting up remote workers, or if you need to restructure your office network, contact us.  We can make sure you’re set up for any workforce structure you need. 

The Benefits of Using an MSP

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, a majority of companies have had to make the switch to working remotely to protect employees. This happened quickly when the pandemic was new, and we were told to enforce social distancing. We had to adapt to the acceptance and implementation of becoming a remote workforce. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have been instrumental in providing IT support to businesses across the globe. They assist businesses and companies by securing, monitoring, and maintaining networks and IT infrastructure. 

Over the last 12 months or more, the demand for MSP partnerships has exploded due to the huge increase in remote working. And it won’t go back anytime soon. In fact, over 75% of the workforce hopes to continue working from home when the pandemic ends. The surge in interest is thanks to the huge benefits managed services offer. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what these benefits are for using someone to manage your IT. 

Improved Network Performance 

Having a network that performs well is vital for efficiency. This is even more important now that people are working in lots of different environments. If a network can receive, transmit and exchange data easily, we can consider its performance to be good. We achieve this efficient data exchange by making sure there is the right balance between qualitative and quantitative data. This is the task of network administrators who measure, review and improve services so employees can access the network without issue. This means both in-office and remotely. 

When a company delegates the role of the network administrator to a Managed Service Provider, it makes tackling the challenges of remote working a lot easier. The technological advancement and expertise of an MSP fills the need for an in-house IT team and increases its proficiency. Managed Service Providers have better resources and experience to identify and fix network problems in real-time. What’s more, with an MSP’s continuous monitoring, there is less room for error and fewer problems relating to server space. There is also less downtime. 

Accessing the Latest Technology 

The culture of remote working means that many companies have fast-tracked evolving their technology. Alongside a change in tech, there is an inevitable need for infrastructure changes. With a robust MSP, growing businesses can tap into new technology enhancements. New technology means that companies have tools like hosted telephone systems, virtual desktops, and VPN, as well as lots of applications that provide help for remote working and productivity. Migrating to a web-based cloud needs careful consideration, however, as there are risks if you have no cloud experience. 

24/7 MSP Support Available  

With an in-house team, support is generally only available during working hours. Many MSPs, however, provide around-the-clock services for tech issues, including remote workers. 

Some business owners are skeptical about the value of 24/7 support. That’s because the value is hidden, like the saying, out of sight, out of mind. We’ll just touch on two of the biggest features of 24/7 value as examples. 

First is continuing cybersecurity support. It’s safe to say that hackers never sleep. So why should your business? MSP’s monitor cybersecurity threats overnight as part of their coverage. This gives you an extra layer of safety that you don’t have if everyone goes home at 5:00. 

The second benefit that goes unnoticed is getting network projects done while the workstations are idle. This can be updating or installing software, backing up files, or migrating huge chunks of data to the cloud. This means there is no downtime for your employees. The days of gathering around the water cooler while engineering runs updates are long gone. Also, running these tasks in the middle of the night usually means a lower cost of electricity. Especially in the summer months. 

Risks of Working Remotely  

With remote working, employees are seen as a weak link for cybersecurity. This risk has grown since companies have had to switch to remote working quickly and without warning. 

So, what risks are there with remote workers and how can MSPs help? 

The most likely things to bring organizations grief are ransomware, credential theft, risky clicks, and phishing campaigns. A big concern for business is exposed compromised credentials. If workers have weak or reused passwords, it makes for an easy way in for cybercriminals and hackers. 

We can’t stress enough the importance of password hygiene. This step, along with regular employee training, goes a long way in protecting your company from cyber-attacks. 

How can MSPs help to reduce risks associated with remote working? 

An MSP will install anti-virus software in every workstation. Both in-office and remote. This protects employees from immediate danger and defends employees from malicious emails and ransomware attacks. MSPs will also monitor networks regularly for threats, and will backup data regularly. This means if there is a breach or crash, the MSP can help recover any lost data. 

Using an MSP to help with remote working is a great way to enhance your performance and protect your data. Tasks like migrating on-premises infrastructure to the cloud require careful consideration. It must be done correctly. 

As your MSP we are here to help you with all of your technology needs. From PCs to servers, phone systems to the cloud, we can help. Whenever you need us, don’t hesitate to contact us!