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Living on Microsoft Teams

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, Microsoft, Microsoft Teams, MPR IT Work, networking, Office 365, Remote working, Software, Training, Uncategorised

Microsoft Teams was originally launched in March 2017 as a planned replacement to Skype for business. By March 2020, Microsoft Teams was used daily by 44 million people. One month later, much of the world was in lockdown and the number of daily users dramatically increased to over 75 million users.

The chances are that, as your team has been working across multiple locations, you have been using Microsoft Teams in your business. We don’t need to tell you that it is predominantly used for instant chat messaging, voice and video calls between employees and customers or suppliers.

MPR and Microsoft Teams

Since March 2020, with staff working remotely initially, and now with a limited staff level physically in the office and others still remote, Teams has been a vital tool in keeping everyone connected.

Daily morning and end of day meetings take place to check everyone is well and to discuss the activity taking place. Whilst some members were furloughed an end of week meeting was put in place to have a general catch up and keep in touch with everyone. In addition to regular group chat to ask questions and the occasional ‘Dad’ joke from team members.

As someone that has worked remotely for the last 6 years with MPR IT, I can honestly say that with the regular meetings and chat I feel more connected to the company and my colleagues in other departments. Previously, I would drop an email or quick call to someone when I needed something now, I see them all daily instead of 3 or 4 times a year when I would normally visit the office.

Click here for a Quick Start Guide to Microsoft Teams or to see the full range of training videos and resources see the Microsoft Teams website. In the meantime, here are a few features we have found to be helpful.

Video Calling Backgrounds

When making a video call to your clients or colleagues you may not want your background to be on display and be looking for a more professional image. Microsoft Teams offer a couple of options to overcome this problem

Blurred background – to avoid people in your video call seeing your homework space, or other people walking around the office you can blur out the background so that only you are on screen.

Virtual Background – a step up from the blurred background is to set up a virtual screen. If you are meeting with clients on video call or in a networking event, choosing a virtual background with your company logo can be more professional than you home or office background.

This can be activated in just a few simple steps: 

  • Generally, you should find the option under your audio and video settings as you start or join a meeting 
  • Click on settings 
  • Check under options 
  • Look for an option to blur your background or choose an image and click on it  

Group videos and Conferencing

Teams Live Events – Microsoft Teams can host meetings from 1-10,000 participants depending on your subscription and you IT Infrastructure. With many networking events, conferences or seminars moving to virtual events you can still easily reach your audience. Within a meeting you can also create individual rooms for different speakers allowing people to more around within the event.

Live Captions – Adding live captions to your meeting can be beneficial for people with different levels of language understanding or for anyone with hearing difficulties. Simply click on the 3 dots in the middle of your screen and speak slowly and clearly into you microphone and the words will appear as subtitles on the screen.

Sharing screens and content -ability to share content or PowerPoint presentations with your audience. This is a feature that has been available on many video conferencing services for many years. Simply click on the share tray and choose the application you wish to share.

Recording and transcribing video meeting – Capture audio, video, and screen-sharing activity by recording your Teams meetings. Automatic transcription allows you to play back meetings and search for important discussion items in the transcript.

Follow up – After your event or meeting you can easily share your recording, files and content and chat with attendees as well as being able to reschedule the next meeting. When all linked together it easy to review previous notes and recording all in one place.

Collaborative Tool

Microsoft Teams is much more than a communication tool, it has many additional features making it an all-round collaborative tool. With many additional apps that can be incorporated to share and edit content, plan projects, connecting with your CRM, social media channels, email platforms and live chat on your website. Additional apps are easily accessed through the main Team’s page.

If you would like to discuss Office 365, SharePoint or Microsoft Teams for your business in more detail please contact us on 0800 030 20 30

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Flexible remote working or back to the office? How technology helps

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Hardware, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Office 365, Remote working

During the last few months the majority of our team have worked remotely from home. With minimal cover in the office to accept deliveries, or work on hardware. Whilst some of our team have had to carry out socially distanced site visits. All this has taken place with no reduction in level to service for our customers.

Now as restrictions relax, like many business we must now consider the options for staff to continue remote working or a return to the office. We need ensure that this is as flexible as possible, to suit the needs of the business and our staff.

Here are a few key questions that we are having to consider:

  • Social Distancing – is there enough office space?
  • Do staff feel comfortable to be back in the office?
  • Are some staff concerned about mixing with other people on their commute?
  • What if there is a local lockdown?
  • Can it be a flexible and seamless mix between the two?

As a result of using the right technology, these questions can be easily resolved.

Hosted Phone Systems

Hosted telephone systems ensure a professional first impression for your customers no matter the location of your employees or the size of your business.  With a hosted phone system staying connected to your customers by telephone is seamless for remote working or the return to the office – it is very simple to switch between the two. Bringing the ultimate in flexibility, with a minimal initial capital outlay, along with an easy to manage monthly subscription.

MPR IT are highly experienced in both design and deployment of telecoms solutions for residential, commercial and hospitality phone systems. Offering the ability to integrate with onsite services such as CRM or MS Outlook, contacts and caller details automatically pop up when they’re on the phone. Choosing an MPR IT Solutions hosted cloud-based telephone system is the ideal solution.

With the latest connected solutions, we ensure that the design meets your requirements and ensure it is correctly deployed to your organisation and end users.

Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 has changed the way that many companies work over the last few years. A cloud based solution combining collaboration, communication and security tools at an affordable cost for everyone. Your staff can access their email and files anywhere with an internet connection. With 2 factor authentication you can be sure it remains secure.

MPR IT has invested time and resources into becoming an official Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner and Small Business Specialist. We are trained in a number of Microsoft Competencies that directly relate to implementing, migrating and configuring your Office 365 solution. MPR IT focus on a smooth and trouble free migration ensuring your business has minimal disruption. Followed up with seamless  ongoing support our team are on hand to advise and solve any problems should they arise.

Microsoft Teams

Superseding Skype for Business – Microsoft Teams was launched in March 2017. In November 2019, Microsoft announced that Teams was used by 20 million end users. Fast forward to April 2020 and 75 million people were using Teams. Integrating with Office 365, Teams is a platform combing communication such as video calls, workplace chat and file sharing and storage.

All the staff at MPR IT have been using Teams over the last 4 months. With daily morning meetings we can connect and be set up for the days task ahead, quick messages or video calls to team mates rather than emails. Having been a remote worker for a number of years, I feel more involved with my colleagues and more connected to the day to day activity within the business.

Flexible working

By using technology systems such as these, the question of enabling staff the flexibility of working either in the office or remotely is much simpler. Staff can connect to their files, email and colleagues through Microsoft and your customer calls can be answered seamlessly.

If you would like more information on more permanent flexible working approach for your staff that wont affect the running of your business please contact us on 0800 030 20 30 or email us sales@mpr-it.co.uk

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Outstanding Effort by MPR IT

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, Engineers, General, Hardware, Helpdesk, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR, MPR IT Work

Congratulations and a huge thanks to all the team at MPR IT.

With the uncertainty over the last couple of weeks surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak – Alex, Andy and Richard would like to acknowledge the outstanding effort put in by all the team here at MPR IT.

Since it first became apparent that companies should consider alternative plans for working from home – every member of the MPR IT team has put in an outstanding performance, going above and beyond to ensure we can continue to support our customers.

Sales Team

The main priority for the Sales team has been to source hardware – which very quickly became almost as difficult to get hold of as toilet rolls and hand sanitiser. The advantage of MPR IT not being tied to one particular supplier has been an enormous help, and we have been able to source pretty much all the laptops that were in stock. Additionally, Nicki from Marketing has been supporting the Helpdesk Team with taking calls and logging tickets to allow the team to work as efficiently as possible.

Engineers

Just a few of the laptops

Engineers

The Engineers have been rushed off their feet with the setting up and installation of over 500 laptops in a week. Everyone and anyone in the MPR IT family that could work on this task was pulled in – including the team from MPR Technical Services.

Helpdesk

Number of tickets raise and percentage closed within 24 hours

This week32859%
Last week36359%
2 weeks ago28161%
3 weeks ago29661%

During the last two weeks the team has seen an increase in the number of tickets raised. A number of these tickets have been to set up remote access for an entire company which can range from 1 to 20 users. Normally a ticket would be raised for an individual issue and not multiple users. Despite this increase the team have continued to average a 60% close rate within 24 hours. An incredible effort with such a large increase in workload.

Dealing not only with the normal everyday queries, but also supporting our clients that require individuals to be set up for remote working via VPN, access to emails and small glitches as it all comes into effect. In total we have sourced, set up and installed over 500 laptops, and enabled over 1000 users to be able to work from home.

Finally not forgetting setting up our own team to work from home to continue to be able support our customers during this time. The helpdesk team are now all working hard from home to provide continued support to our customers and continue to be contacted on 0800 030 20 30 option 2 with full access to all our systems and phones.

Our Customers

Finally we must say a huge thank you – to you our customers for being patient and understanding during this incredibly busy time. We have had an incredible increase in demand for support. We value each and every one of you and we will continue to support you above and beyond.

Comments such as these mean so much to the team when they are frazzled and weary – please keep them coming in:

We were really impressed by the speed at which Mitch responded to our call and were SO grateful that he got everything working again!

Ian was very efficient and explained what he was doing and the cause of the issue.

Thank you for sorting this so quickly! much appreciated

If you do require support over the coming weeks – please contact us in the normal ways 0800 030 20 30 option 1 for Sales and option 2 for Support. Please also follow us on social media for updates and news articles – Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn.

Keep safe and we look forward to supporting during this time.

Alex, Andy and Richard

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Out of Office Housekeeping

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Hardware, Helpdesk, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR, MPR IT Work, networking, Server cabinet

Looking After Your IT During Lockown

Many offices are much emptier than usual with people working from home and it probably feels very surreal. It’s much the same here at MPR IT, many of the team are working hard from home to provide continued support to our customers.

For remote working sessions to continue to the best of network capability we are recommending a few ‘Out of Office House Keeping’ tasks. These should be carried out when anyone visits the office to collect post or a random forgotten folder and will help to keep your IT (and business) running.

Server Room Temperature

The temperature in your server rooms is kept low to ensure that machines do not overheat and stop working. Whilst we have monitoring systems to check that servers are running well, we unfortunately cannot monitor the temperature. If your air-conditioning fails the fans will kick in but will ultimately blow hot air around causing the machines to overheat. Whenever anyone visits the office please ask them to check the air-conditioning is still working and that the temperature is at the recommended level.

Warning Lights or Alarms

Please inspect the servers to check for any warning or unexpected lights. If you do notice anything unusual please take a photo of the issue and email it to support@mpr-it.co.uk and we will check this for you. With the recommendation to stay at home, to keep everyone safe we would like to avoid site visits if possible, photos or videos of the issue will help our team to diagnose the problem.

Back Up Systems

Checking that your back up storage is doing its job could be one of the most important things. Should there be a failure to the servers your back up will be invaluable in restoring your data and keeping your business running.

For customers with monitoring as part of their contract we will be continuing to monitor as normal, however these housekeeping tasks should additionally take place where possible.

If you currently do not have monitoring as part of your contract with MPR IT and would like to consider this please contact our Sales team on 0800 030 20 30 option 2.

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Free – Office 365 Migration

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, MPR, Office 365

Britain and many parts of the world are currently in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The British Government recently announced that where possible people should now be working from home. Following this we have seen a dramatic increase in requests to set up remote access.

Office 365 package makes working from home so much easier. With Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, Teams and Word all available through one simple log. Meaning you can connect to your workspace from anywhere that has an internet connection. As someone that has been part of the MPR IT team for the last 6 years and based in Berkshire, I can confirm that being able to connect with the main MPR IT team via Office 365 is seamless.

To support our local small business community we would like to offer FREE migration to Office 365 during the current lockdown due to Covid 19.

For more information on how Office 365 can package can support you and your business please call our team on 0800 030 20 30 Option 1

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Bogus Email and Internet Campaigns

by Nicki Dowsett in Anti-virus software, cybercrime, General, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR, Ransomware, Training, Uncategorised

The National Cyber Security Agency is reporting an increase of bogus email and internet campaigns to users. With the current global pandemic and many people now working from home the criminals are taking full advantage of more people relying on email as a form of communication.

Virus detected image

Over the years, MPR, have unfortunately dealt with a number of situations involving email and Internet campaigns and virus attachments. Now more than ever we ask that you be extra vigilant for any attachments that you receive.

If you do not know the sender – DO NOT OPEN ANY ATTACHMENT, the chances are it is a cyber crime campaign.

If you do know the sender – CHECK THIS IS AN ATTACHMENT YOU ARE EXPECTING, additionally take a close look at the email address. Often criminals will use an almost identical email address to trick people into opening files for example: support@mpr-lt.co.uk as opposed to the correct email support@mpr-it.co.uk.

If you are unsure of any attachment from a known sender please contact the sender by phone to confirm they have in fact sent you an email.

With many of our customer now working from home, on either a personal computer or one provided by their employer – it is vital that all users ensure that anti-virus software is up to date. MPR IT strongly recommends Webroot as being the best on the current market. If you would like more information on Webroot please contact our sales team on 0800 030 20 30 option 1.

Our helpdesk team are committed to answering all queries as fast as we can and we appreciate your patience at this time.  We would also like to thank each and everyone of our customers for their support during this busy time and we wish everyone well.

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Increased Demand in Helpdesk Support

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, Engineers, General, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR IT Work

Due to Coronavirus and the recent Government assertations to work from home where possible, we are experiencing a large increase in the number of calls and emails to the Helpdesk.  In order to manage this we have reallocated resources to ensure that the day-to-day requests can be acted upon as close to our usual levels of service as possible.

There are three main methods for raising support requests with MPR. These are;

1 – Call us on 08000 30 20 30 select Option 2. This will direct you straight to our Helpdesk.  We are available between 0830-1730 Monday to Friday. If you are unable to get through in the first instance we do have a voicemail system on the helpdesk that is regularly checked.

2 – Email support@mpr-it.co.uk – Once we have received your email for an initial ticket request, you will then be sent a confirmation email with your ticket reference. Our email is manned throughout our normal working hours but will not be picked up out of hours.    ty4

3 – Email helpdesk@mpr-it.co.uk – This is if you are following up existing support requests. You will need to ensure you have your ticket reference in the subject and one of our Helpdesk Team will pick this up and respond in kind to your existing query/new query ity4

To ensure we can assist you effectively we will need as much information as possible from you regarding your fault or problem. i.e.

  • How many users the issue is affecting?
  • How long has the issue being occurring for?
  • Have you made any changes recently to cause the problem?
  • What is the impact to your business?

Along with as many details as possible relating to the fault (Error messages, users affected etc.) so we can replicate the issue. We will also need relevant contact details so we can keep in touch with you.

If we need to remotely log onto your servers / workstation, we will require secure access enabled to get there. We are able provide a direct secure access through our website http://www.mpr-it.co.uk/remote-support/ – it is probably best you are at this website in your browser and waiting for us (unless you are calling us about connectivity issues).

Our team are committed to answering all queries as fast as we can and we appreciate your patience at this time.   We would also like to thank each and everyone of our customers for their support during this busy time and we wish everyone well.

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NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) SERVICE CONTINUITY PLAN

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Recovery, Engineers, General, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR, MPR IT Work

We know your business depends on our ability to provide reliable, uninterrupted service, so in light of the recent developments around Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we would like to share with you the measures we are taking to ensure service continuity.

MPR continues to monitor the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) developments with a primary focus on ensuring the health and safety of our staff while mitigating business impacts. In support of this, we are convening regular meetings with teams across the business and regularly sharing information about the virus and how to prevent the spread of illness.

Risk assessments will be undertaken for all off-site work, meetings etc. to determine if this can be postponed or carried out remotely.

We will act according to the instructions and recommendations of the relevant authorities and in a manner that safeguards our staff. As always, consistent, timely communications with all our stakeholders are critical, and we will communicate any relevant information, when possible.

We have made investments in our technology infrastructure and business continuity planning to ensure we can operate all our systems and processes remotely to provide you with seamless service should any of our staff need to work remotely (e.g., due to self-isolation, school closures, etc.) or should we decide to close the offices and/or switch to a remote working model. We continue to test our business continuity strategies to confirm we can provide ‘business as usual’ should our entire workforce need to work remotely. In the event of this happening, we would operate as follows

  1. Desk phones would revert to soft phones, allowing continuous phone access to our teams, and ensuring all skill groups would continue to work seamlessly.
  2. Microsoft Teams would be used internally for productive collaboration and content sharing.
  3. Meetings, events and training would be switched to virtual environments.

As always, we remain committed to supporting your business with an unparalleled level of service and will continue to monitor the situation, providing you with updates appropriately and promptly.

For further information visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-thepublic

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Covid-19: Disaster Management Plans

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, MPR, Office 365

Covid-19 has fast become the hot topic in the media and conversations around the world. Whilst there is still much uncertainty as to how it will affect us as individuals and businesses, it is not something to completely dismiss.

The spread of Covid-19 is likely to increase over the coming weeks. With schools and businesses expected to be affected, be it due to members of staff/pupils becoming unwell or simply due to an external connection to someone that is affected.

This morning (Tuesday 3rd March 2020), Downing Street released a statement detailing various plans for the worst case scenario. Including a prediction that up to a fifth of the UK workforce potentially being unable to work due to Covid-19.

Disaster Management plans have traditionally been put in place for the scenarios where offices are inaccessible. With consideration made due to fire, flood or bad weather. It is unlikely that the current situation of a global contagion has been taken into consideration. Now is the time to consider and review your disaster management plan.

Catch it, Kill it, Bin it!

This phrase, and the recommendation of regular hand washing is promoted widely. Here at MPR IT, we are ensuring that this message is clear to all our staff members, whether they are office based or engineers visiting clients offices. We have also instructed all team members that should they be concerned they may have come into contact with someone suffering with Coronavirus symptoms, they should inform management and seek medical advise whilst self isolating.

Flexible Home Working

In line with the Disaster Management Plan already in place for MPR IT, all staff members have the ability to work from home and continue to support our clients with no loss of service. This is part of a plan that has been in place for many years. The main purpose of this plan is to ensure that our business can continue no matter what.

Office 365 and Cloud Computing

Software packages such as Office 365, and cloud based CRM’s are becoming more common place. Giving access to email and Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Teams, from any location with Internet connectivity. Giving the ability to create and share documents with chosen individuals.

Telephone Systems

Along with access to documents and files, it is also vital for your business phone lines to be managed. With Hosted Telephone Systems your customers are still able to contact you. Without even having to know you are not physically in the office.

With a range of options and packages to suit businesses of all sizes, we strongly recommend that if you wish to consider the options available to your business, now is the time to contact and discuss with our team on 0800 030 20 30.

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National Apprenticeship Week 2020

by Nicki Dowsett in Engineers, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR, National Apprentice Week 2020, Training

National Apprenticeship week is being celebrated this week, an annual celebration supporting and promoting apprenticeships in the workplace.

To celebrate National Apprenticeship week, we would like to recognise Ben and Jacob. Having both joined MPR IT four years ago as apprentices, are now integral members of the team. Since completing their apprenticeships they have worked their way up to 2nd line engineers within the helpdesk team.

Keep up the good work Ben and Jacob, we are proud to have you part of our team.

Ben Lane-Bailey
Ben Lane- Bailey

Some of the feedback received from customers on Ben’s support:

  • Ben was great!
  • Thanks Ben for your swift response in sorting out the issue, greatly appreciated
  • Ben was very professional and took the time to explain what He needed from me so He could carry out the system check to confirm the error and what as needed, which Ben emailed to me to help get the issue resolved.
  • Many Thanks for your timely response
  • As usual Ben sorted the problem quickly and efficiently
  • Perfect service as usual!
Jacob Little
Jacob Little

Some of the feedback received from customers on Jacob’s support:

  • Super quick to assist as usual! Thank you
  • Job done quickly with the right result
  • Jacob was a very good help
  • Excellent service in resolving issue
  • Jacob attended to my request quite fast, and I appreciate him considering our time difference
  • As always, Jacob sorted out the issue really quickly.  Thank you
  • Brilliant first class services

For many years, MPR IT has been a strong supporter of apprenticeships and encouraging the progression from full time education to the workplace. Giving young people the opportunity to learn key skills and gain knowledge in the IT industry. We strongly believe that staff development at MPR is important to staff loyalty.  Working on several initiatives we support each team member on an individual basis.  No member of staff is the same and they each have a different path they wish to take. 

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