by Nicki Dowsett in Anti-virus software, Audit Reviews, Back up solutions, broadband, cybercrime, Data Loss Prevention, Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Hardware, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, MPR, networking, Password Security, Ransomware, Remote working, Risk management, rural broadand, SaaS Protection, Software, Tech-as-a-service, Wireless networks
We are aware that many of our customers are investigating a Hybrid Office for the future. Finding a balance between flexible home/office-based staff, those that prefer to be at home permanently and others that prefer to be in the office permanently. Media articles are suggesting that 43 out of the top 50 companies in the UK, do not plan to bring staff back full time.
Last year when everyone made the mass exodus to home working, there was a clear focus on getting everyone on-line and the business continuing. The return to the office is not necessarily as simple as everyone just turning up to work at their desk. After almost 15 months away from the office some people may find adjusting to the office trickier than others. Individual working styles may have changed. After working in an environment with little distraction to suddenly being in an office with colleagues on the phone or just generally catching up, may mean that they feel they prefer to be at home for some of the week. From own conversations with industry colleagues and customers, here are some area’s that we believe you should be considering for your staff and business even if you are not considering a hybrid office.
Internet Connections and Firewalls
Remote workers will require internet connections to be able to connect to the office network whether it is cloud based apps or a Voip phone system. The most important consideration is the router secured and has the password been changed since it left the factory? The standard routers issued by home broadband have basic security settings and it is unlikely that your employee has ever changed the router name or password. This puts your data at risk, as you have no control over this set up.
Another area to consider is that many home broadband connections state in the small print that they should not be used for business purposes. Although this has been overlooked during the lockdown, now is the time to consider is your employee at risk from using their BT, Virgin or Sky broadband connection. Finally is the connection reliable? Have they suffered, but put up with, outages until now? Or is their chosen home office space receiving a good signal, do they need a booster installed?
Installing a dedicated business internet connection to your employees homes gives you the control to secure the router and firewalls that connect your employee to your business network and data.
Back up Solutions
While cloud-based applications like Microsoft 365 are safe when left alone, they can’t protect you from yourself (or your employees). This is why the #1 cause of data loss in the cloud is human error.
Every day, users trigger data loss/corruption in cloud applications due to:
- Accidental (and intentional!) deletion
- Overwriting important data
- Downloading malware/ransomware viruses
- And more!
More and more businesses are using SaaS (Software as a service) such as Microsoft Business 365 or Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and it is often assumed that your data is backed up automatically and that these providers will hold all your data, BUT this is not the case.
For example Microsoft state in their Service Level Agreement the following:
“Microsoft is not liable for data loss due to application outages, it is also not liable for data loss due to deprovisioned user accounts.
We recommend that you regularly backup your Content and Data that you store on the services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”
Recent reports show that it could cost your business upwards of £1million in ransom, fines, legal fees, loss of revenue and IT Support to get your business back up and running if you suffer a data loss due to vulnerabilities in your network. From as little as £2 per seat per month, MPR IT Solutions can support your business against Data Loss see our news article here.
Ransomware and Phishing Scams
Ransomware and Phishing scams are increasing and it is becoming more prolific. This is affecting all industry sectors whether your employees are at home or in the office. Employees using their own hardware are unlikely to have the same level of anti-virus or malware software to protect your data against phishing scams and ransomware. As it is a personal computer you do not have the control over this as you would with a business device. Implementing Security Awareness Testing across your business can identify individuals that require further training on how to spot a scam. For only £2 per seat per month you can help to protect your business by ensuring your staff are more aware of the potential risks on email scams. See our blog articles on Network Security and Is my Network Vulnerable? for further information.
Hybrid Office Workspace and Risks
Personally I have worked remotely for 7 years. I am therefore well situated to understand the needs long term, as opposed to the last year. I have friends sharing the dining room table with their partner, or know of people that have been using a lap tray to balance their laptop and phone whilst sat on the sofa. These don’t work short or long term. If you partner is in Sales and on the phone constantly and you are in an admin role there are going to be clashes. You can’t both be holding a MS Teams or Zoom meeting at the same time, it is unprofessional and distracting.
Your office is likely to have LED lighting to create a bright environment, and these are on all day long. At home your staff are working in natural daylight and this can cause strain on their eyes when looking at their screen all day. Is their home in a busy street? If so, it can be distracting to hear vehicles or pedestrians going passed constantly. These are all areas to consider along with lone working risk assessments. It is your duty of care as an employer to ensure that your staff when working remotely are safe, cables and power leads across the room are a trip hazard and even though it is their own home you can still be liable if proper provisions and risk assessments are not offered.
Hybrid Office Equipment
Is there a clear separation of home and work space? Is your employee expecting to be able to work from the kitchen or dining room table or do they have a desk? Not every home is large enough for a full office desk, however there are many home office desks available on the market to suit most needs. Having a dedicated work space, allows for your employee to define work and home time.
As a business, if you decide that you want staff to work from home, you need to consider that they have the same equipment and furniture available to them as they would in the office. Desk space, chair, printer and office stationary. Often overlooked are ergonomic items such as wrist or feet rests to allow them to sit comfortably and without risk of long term injury such as back pain or RSI. Be prepared that if staff are working part remote, part office based you will have to pay and provide these items for both home and office, the same as you would if they were in the office full time.
Are your staff working on business computers or personal computers? Last year the focus was just to get everyone on-line, many businesses invested in laptops for staff, others sent staff home with their desktop computer. However, for some it was simply a case that staff would use personal computers (Bring Your Own Device – BYOD) as no one expected it would be this long. Linking back to cyber security, it is important to consider the security of the hardware as well as the lifecycle. If your staff are using aged or personal hardware you should consider upgrading or purchasing business hardware to secure your network and ensure employees are able to work remotely long term.
Alternatively, if staff are going to be working in a hybrid office routine, what are your plans for hardware? Whilst cloud platforms are great for being able to connect anywhere, if your employee only has a desk PC, they are not going to be able to transport it back and forth.
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. A hosted telephone system will allow your employees to connect whether it be a hybrid office or at home with customers and colleagues. Flexibility comes with the option of using a softphone on your laptop or PC, a physical handset or an app on your mobile.
Re-integration to work place
Expecting your employees to return to a hybrid office or any office, as if the last 15 months hasn’t happened, is not an option. Everyone will have had different experiences and you need to accept that it wont be smooth and there will be friction. For someone that may have been in the office for the majority of the lockdown, they will be used to working in the office, however they are now used to almost silence. For someone that has not set foot in the office for 15 months, it will be daunting. Surrounded by people after being isolated at home with limited interaction to suddenly be around colleagues can be stressful.
Each individual needs to be considered separately. You cannot assume that everyone is the same. Some may have lost family or friends, some may have been in hospital themselves, whilst others may have thankfully escaped any such experience. Some may live alone and have had extremely limited interaction with the outside world due to restrictions. The return to the office will have an affect on mental health in some shape or form. For those returning from furlough it will be a huge step to get back into a routine, whilst others that have worked all through may resent those that were furloughed.
Going forward, employees that want a flexible working approach will benefit mentally by being able to have a better home/work life balance. For those that are parents will value the opportunity to be more available to their family without a long commute or staying late in the office. With the option to work from home they might stop to take a half hour break to play with younger children. This doesn’t mean they won’t be making the extra effort to get the tasks completed. After all, for the last 15 months much of it has involved home schooling and they still got it done then, nothing will change on that front.
Staff returning to the office will also need to be accommodated. Suddenly being tied to a desk 8 or 9 hours a day will require regular breaks as they settle back in. They will be used to not being observed for every move they make and it really does make for a better environment overall when staff are trusted. In the past many business were concerned that out of sight meant out of mind and that working remote should never be an option. However, these last 15 months have proved that it can be done in most cases.
Communication, Collaboration, Concentration
I found that the last 15 months brought me closer to the team. I have worked at MPR IT for 7 years, all of it remotely and being based in Berkshire my visits to the office are not regular. Initially, when we all started to work remotely and had weekly social gatherings on MS Teams, I suddenly got the opportunity to get to know some of my colleagues better. I would have regular quick teams calls to ask colleagues questions where as before I would probably have dropped them an email. Using teams we were able to throw ideas around quickly and easily in a chat or quick call.
Now that they are all back to the office, I still feel that sense of connection, however I do miss out on the ‘corridor conversations’ as some might call them. Where one person will mention something and it then becomes a discussion. They are great and do keep me up to date with any decision made and ask for my opinion, and with a small team this is easy to overcome. For those businesses that are considering a Hybrid office environment, you will need to ensure that employees do not feel left out by being at home, as opposed to the office and continue to hold regular sessions as a whole team.
How can we help?
Contact our team on 0800 030 20 30 option 1 or email us at email@example.com to find out how MPR IT Solutions can support your business with technical solutions for a Hybrid Workplace. Whether just one member of staff will be remote or the whole team, we can identify vulnerabilities in the network, support you in upgrading hardware alongside day to day managed IT Support.
by Nicki Dowsett in Anti-virus software, Audit Reviews, Back up solutions, cybercrime, Data Loss Prevention, Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Microsoft 365, Password Security, Ransomware, Remote working, Risk management, SaaS Protection, Security Policies, Software, Uncategorised, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows Server 2012
By 2022 it is estimated that 70% of organisations will have suffered a business disruption due to unrecoverable data loss in a SaaS application.
More and more businesses are using SaaS (Software as a Service) such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) it is often assumed that your data is backed up automatically and that these providers will hold all your data, BUT this is not the case. For example Microsoft state the following in their Service Level Agreement (SLA):
“Microsoft is not liable for data loss due to application outages, it is also not liable for data loss due to deprovisioned user accounts.
We recommend that you regularly backup your Content and Data that you store on the services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”
MPR IT Solutions invests time and resources to research the Technology market for all of our products and services to establish the best market offerings for our customers, so that you don’t need to.
Datto Saas Protection is a solution that will fit a large proportion of businesses using cloud platforms such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace (formerly G Suite).
70% of businesses that experience a large data loss will go out of business within a year. By implementing a back up solution today, you will minimise your risk.
Contact us on 0800 030 20 30 to discuss your options today.Read more
Have you considered how many emails you might send in one day, one week or even one year? It is estimated that each individual might send upwards of 40 emails per day. That’s approximately 200 emails in a working week or 9,600 in a year allowing for annual leave.
Now consider how many employees you have and that number of emails sent has grown considerably. Emails have clearly replaced personalised letters as a form of communication with employees, customers and suppliers. Many years ago, the post would be delivered each morning and distributed around the business, to be dealt with. Now emails are sent continuously and so our working patterns have changed.
None of this is new information. If you can remember back to these times, consider the layout and presentation of the letters you might have received. High quality headed paper, with a clear indication of any certification or affiliations that might apply to a business or individual. Your letter head would set out the tone and image of the company and giving the recipient a clear impression of your business.
Now, looking again at the number of emails you might send in a year. Does your email give the same impression of your business that a headed letter paper may have once given? Does every single person in your business use an agreed font style and size along with a standard email signature? Is the email signature easily managed centrally or is it down to individuals to manually update the signature when asked?
Seven C’s of Email Signatures
With Exclaimer email signatures, you can easily utilise your emails as a marketing tool, at the same time of promoting your company brand. With a centralised set up the one email signature is rolled out to all your users with ease.
Comply with legislation. Firstly and probably the most important element of your email signature. Depending on your geographic region there are items of information that must by law be included on your business email. For example in the UK your Legal Disclaimer must include:
- VAT Number
- Company Registration number and address
The information in your disclaimer is not legally binding, however in a court case regarding the sale of a piece of land, a judge ruled that the disclaimer at the end of the relevant emails were legally binding. If your emails do not contain a disclaimer you can be fined. Initially a smaller warning fine with the value increasing until resolved. The legal disclaimer does not need to lengthy but must cover the requirements of your geographical area.
Consistency to your brand guidelines. Many businesses spend a lot of time and money to design your brand. This might include business cards, workwear, vehicle signage, literature and websites – so it may come as a surprise that not all business then continue this branding in email signatures.
Contact details. The simplest and easiest way to share all your contact details is in your email signature. It is a digital business card. People are more likely to look at your last email for your contact details than hunt through your company website.
Certify/Creditability, your signature is the perfect way to highlight your individual and business partnerships, certifications, awards etc. Providing evidence of your creditability without actually mentioning it. You wouldn’t bring it up at the end of a phone call but you can share it in your email signature.
Connect through social media links. Links to your business social media pages can easily be included in your email signature. By having the hyperlink in your email, people are more likely to connect on social platforms than if you asked them personally.
Communication your email signature is the most cost effective marketing tool. It is effectively free or very low cost. With almost 10,000 emails sent each year, you can easily and simply communicate to your recipients. Showcasing new products, events or offers, via your email signature.
Collect feedback on your services. Adding a simple survey question on the bottom of your email signature, e.g “How did we do today?” allows you to collect a snapshot of the service you offer. If you wanted you could include a link to a more lengthy survey BUT you are less likely to get a response.
Images in emails
Many email clients remove images from emails, you will notice a box with a red x in the corner when an image has been removed. Image blocking occurs for many reasons, security being the main reason, but also because the image can increase the size of the email. Or it can be identified as spam.
Due to image blocking it is vital that your email signature including legal disclaimer is not an image as this may get blocked and this can result in your company not complying with the legal requirements.
Managing email signature’s
Often the onus is on your employees to update their individual email signature account or relying on a specific member of staff to go to each work station and make the update. Both options can be time consuming and unreliable. Some may decide to make small changes to the layout, some may simply not do it or some may be on holiday and miss the request for the update.
Emails on the go
In todays age of technology many of us access our work emails via mobiles and tablets as well as on a work station. However, it is important to note that you are still legally required to include the disclaimer. When you receive an email that ends – sent by iphone – all it is telling you is that someone sent you a message from their phone as opposed to their workstation.
Centrally Managed Email Signature
By having a centrally managed standardised email signature you are able to follow the above mentioned 7 C’s of email signatures simply and one person can quickly update the entire workforces email signature within minutes, without any disruption to the rest of your employees. In addition this can be rolled out to include mobile devices as it is attached to mail account as opposed to the workstation or mobile device.
Exclaimer Email Signature
MPR IT Solutions is proud to partner with Exclaimer Email Solutions. Based in the UK, Exclaimer provide multi-award-winning on-premise and cloud-based email signature solutions to over 75 million users worldwide.
Exclaimer’s range of email signature management solutions make designing and controlling your organization’s email signatures easy and ensure that you are fully compliant and following the 7 C’s.
Your email signature is more than just a sign off at the end of the message. For more information on how MPR IT Solutions can support your business in using Exclaimer email solutions please contact us on 0800 030 20 30 option 2.Read more
Launched in 1996, Adobe Flash Player is a browser plug-in designed to stream video and animation content through websites. At the time of launch it was the most popular way to stream content quickly. Many internet users had dial up or slow connection and content such as this would take too long to view. By 2009, Adobe Flash was installed on 99% of internet connects computers.
However, with the launch of handheld devices such as smart phones and tablets, Adobe was slow to react and it was not compatible. It was expected to drain the battery life as well as being a security risk. By the time that Adobe had created a flash player that would work on mobile devices the big internet names were streaming content without a flash player. In 2015, Apple disabled the plug-in on their own Safari browser, and Google Chrome started to block some Flash Content. Adobe then announced in 2017, that Flash Player would be retired in 2020.
Adobe announced that the Flash Player will no longer be supported and as of 31 December 2020 no further security updates released. It should therefore be uninstalled from all laptops and PC’s. Through our managed IT Support packages, MPR IT Solutions will be removing Adobe Flash player from our customer packages. If you have any concerns regarding this please contact us on 0800 030 20 30.
From 12 January 2021, Adobe will stop Flash Player displaying content, rendering it retired. Games and content relying on Adobe Flash Player will no longer be accessible.Read more
by Nicki Dowsett in Anti-virus software, Audio Systems, broadband, CCTV, cybercrime, Disaster Planning, DNS Web Hosting, Domain Registration, Engineers, Exclaimer Cloud, fibre optics, Fire Alarms, General, Hardware, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Microsoft Teams, MPR, MPR IT Work, New customer, Office 365, Office Move, Password Security, Point to Point Wireless, Ransomware, Remote working, Server cabinet, Software, SQL Server, SSL Certificates, Structured Cabling, Training, TV Distribution, Web Hosting, Websites, Windows 10, Wireless networks
“What does IT Support look like to you?”
Often the simple answer is a helpdesk offering daily support to end users in a fast and reliable manner.
When considering your business as a whole, IT Support is usually much more complex. Have you considered these areas?
- Who looks after your phone system?
- Who provides your internet connection and leased lines?
- Where is your website domain registered and hosted?
- Do you have malware and anti-virus software?
- Is your office using a Wi-Fi network? Who maintains this?
- Where do you purchase new hardware? Is it under warranty and how do you manage an upgrade programme?
- Are your servers on site or are they cloud based? How are these monitored and supported?
If I was to ask the question again “What does IT Support look like to you?” Would the answer be the same? The chances are that answer has changed.
By choosing MPR IT Solutions, you can be assured that your business will benefit from all-round comprehensive support in all information technology aspects. With a dedicated Account Manager, simple straightforward invoicing and only one point of contact for any technical issues, MPR IT Solutions provides fast, effective and reliable IT Support to businesses throughout London and the South East. Working in partnership with our clients we believe enhances our understanding of their business needs and we always look to find the best and most effective solution. Our core products and services include (but not limited to);
- Comprehensive IT Systems Support
- Hosted/ Voip Telephones
- Website domain registration and hosting
- Internet connections and Leased Lines
- Wi Fi Networks
- Azure Server Support
- Office 365 & Microsoft Teams
- AEM Monitoring
- Malware/Anti-virus software
- Hardware purchasing and upgrade plans
- Security Awareness Training (SATT)
- Email Signature Management
Through the growth and continued development of MPR IT Solutions and increasing demands from clients, our sister company MPR Technical Services was born in 2019. A Technical Services Integrator, their highly experienced and qualified employees provide advice, design and installation services in residential and commercial developments.
MPR Technical Services and MPR IT Solutions will work together for larger projects, as necessary. With a collaborative relationship you can be assured of strong communication and enhanced understanding of the work carried out and on-going support required.
Extended Services through MPR Technical Services:
- Structured Cabling
- Wireless Networks
- Audio Visual and Digital IPTV Systems
- Electronic Security
- Office re-locations
For more information on the products and services from MPR IT Solutions contact our team today on 0800 030 20 30 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgRead more
by Nicki Dowsett in Audio Systems, CCTV, Engineers, fibre optics, Fire Alarms, Hardware, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, MPR, Office Move, point to point wirless, Server cabinet, Software, SQL Server, Structured Cabling, TV Distribution, Web Hosting, Websites, Wireless networks
Early in 2008, three friends – Alex, Richard and Andy became disenchanted by the way IT Support was provided to businesses in Kent and the South East. They felt that customer service and relationships were not a priority and it would result in many businesses bouncing around support companies on a regular basis.
After many discussions the three friends took the decision to start a new IT Support business offering a more pro-active relationship with customers, with the aim “To never sacrifice our high level of customer service for growth, we hope and believe that through good customer service our business will become the market leader in Kent.”
In the late spring of 2008, MPR IT Solutions was born in a small garden office with Alex, Andy and Richard utilising their individual skills to provide daily support and installation of network infrastructure.
With a strong belief that building relationships with customers, understanding the requirements of the business and employees it would give a clearer idea as to how technology can support and help customers to grow their own business. By offering impartial advice in simple terms and by not being tied to any one supplier means that MPR IT Solutions can ensure that the hardware and software required is the best to meet the individual needs.
11 Years on from the start
Over the last 11 years the business has grown substantially with an annual turnover of £1.4million, employing 24 people and supporting over 250 businesses across the South East. With a customer base comprising of a wide variety of customers from small home run businesses to large multi-office business throughout the UK and everything and anything in between.
The team handle over a thousand support tickets each month with 97% closed within an hour. To ensure that the level of service doesn’t reduce in any way we regularly ask for feedback and are immensely proud that we score 5/5 in 99% of our surveys. A large proportion of customers have been with MPR IT for many years and are happy to recommend our services to other business, it is clear, that the vision initially formed has proved to be a success.
Moving to Henwood Industrial Estate
Since the time spent in the garden office, MPR IT have moved several times to keep up with the on-going growth of the business and need to expand.
It was agreed at the end of 2018 that MPR IT would need to consider another move, and so we have recently relocated to the Henwood Estate. Using our own team of Engineers, we could guarantee the task of fitting out our new home would meet all the requirements we need today and pre-empting any future expansions. The project to refit the office took about 3 months and involved using our own knowledge, experience and skills. Once the initial building work was completed the team set about refitting the office from scratch using the skills and services that we offer to our own customers.
With so many changes in technology since MPR IT Solutions was first conceived, it was clear from the onset that our skills and offerings would need to become more and more diverse. No longer just offering daily IT Support, MPR IT now offers a wide range of services and products, including installation of Structured Cabling Networks, Server Infrastructure, Wireless networks, Point to Point Wireless, Fire Alarm, CCTV and Door Entry/Security systems along with Audio Visual installations.
Training & Encouraging the Team
Since the start of MPR IT Solutions we have employed 7 apprentices supporting local people to learn and qualify within the IT Industry. We strongly believe that young people should be given the opportunity to learn new skills and the chance to have a career and always open to take on more in the future. Many of our apprentices have gone on to stay with us and once qualified have become valued field engineers within MPR IT Solutions. Support is provided for any team member that would like to further their knowledge or qualifications.Read more
MPR IT Solutions provides premier versatile IT solutions and support for businesses in London & the South East. With 10 years in a highly competitive industry, we have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Listening to our clients is key to providing the high quality of support that our clients find invaluable and unmatched.
Feedback from our clients informs us that with the fast-moving pace of technology, ensuring an office has the latest and most efficient hardware, can be both time consuming and costly. After listening to the feedback we have researched the industry to find a superior solution for this predicament. We are now pleased to announce that we are able to offer a new service, called Tech-as-a-Service, through our trusted partner TechData.
Tech-as-a-Service allows you to combine your hardware, software, and services into a single solution. Giving you access to the latest technology, optimising your IT budget, and simplifying your invoicing with simple monthly payments.
The key benefits of using Tech-as-a-Service include:
- Predictable, lower costs
- Access to the latest technology and employee experience
- Unburdened IT and day-to-day management
- Flexibility to add or remove technology hardware according to demand
The one-off total cost for the hardware and labour would be £13,104.00. By using Tech-as-a-Service you can spread the cost over 36 months, including interest you would make monthly payments of £401.00.
Look at how this breakdown can optimise budgets with an affordable and straightforward subscription:
- £401.00 per Month
- £92.53 per Week
- £13.21 per Day
- £0.62 per Seat per Day
In addition to hardware we can also offer software services for your business. Our team of experts regularly review the market leaders in all solutions that we offer and work hard to ensure that we are providing the best services to our clients. Recommended software packages include:
Tech-as-a-Service can offer subscriptions to these packages over 36 months as opposed to making it more cost effective and affordable, meaning your business can benefit to the best products on the market.
To find out more on how Tech-as-a-Service can benefit your company, please contact our Sales Team on 0800 030 20 30 option 2 or email email@example.comRead more