The Coronavirus or COVID-19 virus has caused a lot of anxiety and uncertainty throughout Australia and the World, the jury is still out regarding the severity and the broader impact that this virus is going to have not only to our health and health systems, but also to our economy and businesses.
With over 120,000 infected globally and over 4,500 deaths, unfortunately it seems likely that things are only going to get worse before they get better.
We are already seeing Australian businesses struggling including Restaurants, Tourism, Retail (unless you sell toilet paper…) and small businesses that work off tight margins and lean operating profits. Businesses that do not have cash reserves could be severely impacted by sick leave, declines in sales and supply chain issues. We are starting to see schools, events and sporting events shutdown to prevent the spread.
If one of your staff where to be infected by the Coronavirus, do you have a work from home policy for your employees, to prevent further infections? Are you prepared in the event that our schools and childcare centres introduce mandatory shutdowns? If there are compulsory quarantines and your staff can’t come into the office or need to stay at home to look after their children, is your business enabled sufficiently to allow your staff to work efficiently and effectively from home?
Do your staff have access to company documents and network drives, access to emails and the ability to facilitate remote meetings and teleconferences to communicate with fellow staff, suppliers and customers?
We have compiled a plain English overview of common IT and communications products and services used by Australian businesses to stay connected whilst working remotely. We have summarised common features and functionality which will aid productivity, access to information and communication.
If your business is already predominantly cloud enabled, your staff can access cloud services, applications and cloud storage using their home computer or work laptop, and their home internet connection or mobile broadband connection. Accessing cloud based applications and data using their home internet connection or mobile broadband services.
If you are not cloud enabled you could consider the following:
Access to Telecommunications services are critical for business communications. Unfortunately, only being contactable via your mobile phone may not be enough for larger businesses when it comes to managing call flows and customer service processes. Therefore, it is important to be able to divert calls to wherever your team is based.
If you have the functionality available on your current phone system and your staff are working remotely, there is no reason to not be able to maintain the quality of customer service and communication between your team, customers and suppliers by leveraging off the capability of your phone system.
In the event that you still have an old phone system or an on-premise PBX that isn’t easy to configure, hosted phone system licenses are becoming more and more affordable, feature rich and quick and easy to provision without the need to send a technician to site.
If your business is forced to reduce or eliminate the number of face to face meetings, both internally and with customers or suppliers, an audio conference or teleconference for voice only calls, or a video conference or web meeting which allows for video communication is the next best thing.
If the impacts of the Coronavirus require your staff to Work From Home or to work remotely and still be required to communicate with people, you might need to consider how conferencing and collaboration technologies can improve the productivity of your staff.
Using Audio and Video conferencing technologies are the next best thing to an actual in person meeting. In the event that there are quarantine or work from home protocols in place due to the coronavirus, this technology allows your business to continue to have effective and engaging meetings with your staff, suppliers and customers.
Some other benefits include reduced costs of travel both locally and internationally, meeting room access and costs of setting up physical events.
Depending on what conferencing service you have there are a number of added additional benefits:
Remote meetings have proven to be an effective way to communicate and participants tend to become more productive with the ability in achieving more virtual meetings in a week compared to a number of possible face to face meetings.
If you are forced due to the Coronavirus to have your staff work from home or remotely, there are a number of associated business risks. There are obvious cybersecurity and data security issues associated with corporate data being accessed remotely. There are data network, device security, password security, antivirus and staff training and awareness that should be considered.
The complexity of your data security and network security is going to be contingent on the size of your business and sensitivity of your data.
If your business is concerned about the impacts of the Coronavirus on your day to day business operations and business continuity, the effective use of technology can enable your staff to continue to work remotely and effectively.
In the event of quarantines or you are forced to introduce a mandatory work from home policy, where staff are not able to come into the office, the right mix of Cloud based storage and VoIP communications and collaboration technologies can reduce the impact on your business and ensure that your staff remain productive and efficient regardless of where they are working from.
The good news is that in the last 5-10 years cloud technologies have progressed rapidly. Features and functionality have improved, the price points have come down and there are a multitude of suppliers who are well equipped to help you source and setup these services.
Whilst the coronavirus is a cause for concern and there is a lot of uncertainty, there is no need to panic. With the right planning and contingencies in place, there is no reason for your business to grind to a halt and we can hopefully ride out the coming weeks and months with minimal impact to our businesses, staff and families.
Circle Business Consulting and our partners are well placed to assist your business with Cloud Enablement, IT transformations, Telecommunications, Conferencing and Collaboration, IT Security and Managed Services. We deliver IT and Telecommunications related services all over Australia, we have helped Aussie businesses all over Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart.
So whether you are located in New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (QLD), Victoria (VIC), Western Australia (WA), South Australia (SA), Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Tasmania (TAS), Northern Territory (NT), give the team at Circle Business Consulting a call, the initial consultation is obligation free 1300 978 073.