Opinions and Legal Insights

10 ACTIONS TO CONSIDER AS YOU RETURN TO THE OFFICE

By Frank Manning, Legal Technology at Inpractice







Your people will be starting to return to your offices after a long period of lockdown – albeit gradually. Whilst we have all been at home trying to stay safe and making the best of a difficult situation, working practices have changed. In some areas we have seen significant disruption, with many changes set to stay for good. 








However, the office that we all left way back in March will be a different place when we return this month, next month or whenever caution dictates that it is time








There is a clear advantage to working through the list below whilst this return to new normality is still gradual and you have time to consider your options to do things properly.  These 10 steps are not a comprehensive list but get these right and you will have made a good, assured start.







1. Are you still using Windows 7



although mainstream support ended in January?






You were probably aware that it was becoming an issue before lockdown in March, but we are four months down the road now and it should certainly be showing on your radar. In businesses across the country PC’s and laptops are starting to fail and, at best, performance on Windows 7 devices is poor. That’s even before you consider regulation and compliance where good cyber security practice discourages the use of unsupported software. Cyber Essentials, the UK government-backed scheme, treats this as a failure.







Action to Consider:


  Operating system software upgrades are available through Microsoft, but it is often a better economic decision to replace the hardware at the same time.





DOWNLOAD the .pdf version of this article here to share with colleagues >>








2. Endpoint security.







A good solution can give you peace of mind. Antivirus has moved on significantly in recent years, includes much more functionality, and is collectively known as “endpoint protection”. These products provide greater layers of protection through heuristic scanning and machine learning, easier management and updating, and additional privacy and identity protection.







Action to Consider:






The desktop PC’s and laptops returning to your office have been “out in the wild” for months and it may not be a safe call to plug them back in to your corporate network. If you don’t feel confident that your current Antivirus is up to the job, it’s worth taking the following precautions before you re-connect your desktops and laptops to the internal network: 





• Run a full virus scan using the existing antivirus software

• Check for and install any Microsoft Updates


• Consider installing an ‘agentless’ endpoint protection product such as



Webroot






3. Take stock of your IT assets.









If you didn’t have tight control before lockdown then it will be even worse now as you try to get equipment that was taken home in a hurry when lockdown started, back into the office.







Action to Consider:


 







A simple spreadsheet works well for smaller firms but beyond that there are some good products on the market to help you with this. Some are free. For example



Spiceworks







4. Don’t forget the accessories. 







Some of the smaller items may not come back into the office.  The new social distancing rules mean that desks will move, and existing cables might not reach.







Action to Consider: 






Invest in a stock of cables, mice, and keyboards. It is going to be difficult enough without being troubled by small issues we can foresee and deal with in advance!





5. What about space to Zoom or use Teams?










Bringing staff back into the office doesn’t mean they will stop their newfound habit of videoconferencing. It’s still prudent to meet this way where possible and some of your customers will want to continue with virtual meetings.








There has been space and privacy at home. Back in the office the practicalities of one-to-one or one-to-many videoconferencing raises both privacy and logistical challenges. 








Actions to Consider: 







a) Start to think about desk positioning, supplying headsets etc. Do you have the correct technology in place? Sufficient broadband capacity?






b) Make sure that you check the privacy and security settings on the applications that you are using for videoconferencing. Can you restrict access with a password to protect staff and attendees? Have you spoken to staff about the risks of sharing their screens and understanding what is visible and who might see it? Do you realise that recorded video conference sessions need to be covered by your privacy policies and included in your data protection regimes?






c) It is also important to ensure that your all your applications are up to date. The last 3 months have gone by in a blur with changes and updates made to applications sometimes on a daily or weekly basis. And all for very good reason – make sure that you have a procedure in place to handle this.






6. Broadband again



.






It’s often true that technology has moved on since you last looked at the service and now you could probably have more for your money.







Actions to Consider





It might be time to look at what you have versus what you could have. We can help you understand what is available and translate the options – FTTC, FTTP, FTTH etc. to ensure that you sign up for the best service with the best value.





7. Make sure you have good corporate Wi-Fi in place.







Social distancing means desks will move and may not be near existing cable points or within reach of Wi-Fi.  Corporate Wi-Fi should not be a mess of routers and home grade extenders. 








Actions to Consider:






a) Is it easy to access and use? Once a staff device is connected to your Wi-Fi in any office it should automatically and seamlessly connect whenever it enters the range of other points in the site or elsewhere in your organisation.






b) Security and monitoring. Do you segregate staff and visitor connections so that you can monitor usage and ‘shut down’ anything that is consuming too much bandwidth? 






c) Visibility. Are you able to see what is connected at every site and what the connections are doing?






d) Scalability. Can you quickly and easily add more access points allowing the flexibility for staff to move around in the office?






8. Workstation setup.











In many cases, new laptops have been given out at the start of lockdown and will now be coming back into the office. Do you have the correct desks setup for these with docking stations, monitors etc.? 








Actions to Consider:







You might have your own way of assessing Display Screen Equipment (DSE) requirements for individual staff or you



download a checklist to cover this here>>







9. Telephony.








Working arrangements need to be much more flexible now and static desk telephones just are not going to help. Your clients need to be able to talk to your staff wherever they are and believe that they are at work, ready and capable of helping. Whether the staff are working from home or they are simply working in a meeting room for social distancing it needs to be easy to make and receive telephone calls without calling IT to come and plug a handset in somewhere else or giving clients their own personal mobile numbers. 








Actions to Consider:



Can you leverage the functionality of your existing telephone system to use headsets, and perhaps ‘soft-phone’ (using your laptop or desktop PC as the telephone extension) options enabling staff to truly work from anywhere. Or are you at a point where it’s worth having a fresh look at your telephony and communications?






10. For assured peace of mind,






we can put your practice through an affordable health check to help you identify any gaps that should be filled, addressing any weaknesses. Working through this will give you the assurance that all is in order, allowing you to manage the return with confidence.





Next Steps?







We have been through (and are still in) a worldwide crisis. There are no precedents to fall back on as we have never been here before, not least in this technological age, where we have learned that attitudes and working practices can change very quickly. Decisions have been made in a rush, with very little information available – but all with good intentions.



It is time to revisit some of these decisions and make sure that they are correct for your firm now that you know more about the battle ahead and the tools available.






To find out more … 








If you have any questions or would like to talk to someone about your particular circumstances, please contact



Frank Manning



at



Inpractice



at



fmanning@inpractice.co.uk



or on 07778 572420.






Alternatively, you can






schedule a free 30-minute telephone of video call with Frank, checking his availability and booking a slot that works for you here >>






More topics you might want to explore with Frank: