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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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, 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 email@example.comRead 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
by Nicki Dowsett in Audio Systems, cabinets, Design Inspiration, Engineers, fibre optics, General, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR IT Work, Office Move, Server cabinet, Strcutured cabling, TV Distribution, Wireless networks
New Office – Server Room
As you will probably be aware MPR IT are preparing to move to our new home. Our new offices will be based at the Henwood Estate in Ashford, and will accommodate our expanding team. We are currently in the process of recruiting for our Technical Help desk and with the extra room we will have there should be no issue for desk space.
The project to refit the new office seems to be running very quickly and we can start to see how the office will be once it is completed. Our team have worked hard to install structured cabling throughout the entire space for work spaces and AV. However the cables need to have an endpoint and so this week we are working on the server room.
As you can see before we could consider any installation, we first needed to make the room a clean space. With walls decorated and new flooring installed our team had the perfect space to work with. The new space is light and cool – the correct environment for server cabinets.
With the comms cabinet in place the team have been busy connecting the cables in an orderly fashion. Not only does this mean everything is neat and tidy, it also means that we can identify each individual cable. Work continues on the server room and we plan to have everything completed in there shortly.
With the end in sight for the project, it is now starting to look like home for MPR IT. Here is one part of the office space with some furniture starting to go in along with the new carpet. Looks so bright and fresh, we can’t wait to move in.Read more
by Nicki Dowsett in Access Panels, Audio Systems, B2B, cabinets, CCTV, Design Inspiration, fibre optics, General, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR, New Team Member, point to point wirless, Server cabinet, Strcutured cabling, TV Distribution, Wireless networks
Welcome to Mark Best
We are pleased to welcome Mark Best, who joins us as a Sales and Account Manager. Some of you may know Mark – as he previously worked as a Sales Consultant for MPR IT in 2010-2011. During which time he won several new business projects /accounts, many of which remain loyal MPR IT customers today.
Mark is a highly motivated, focused, sales professional, with highly transferable skills in New Business Development and Key Account Management. With over 23 years of experience working in the Structured Cabling; IT Services; Energy Reduction & Electrical Contracting markets. Mark’s key strengths include B2B Consultative Solution/Project Specification Sales; Estimating & Tendering; On-site & Office Based Project Management.
Whilst Sales & Marketing principles are continuously re-invented and re-packaged, his core principles have never changed – Know Your Customer and Customer is King; Who; What, Why, When; How Much – keeping things simple are key reasons he has retained accounts and gained repeat business throughout his sales career.
Mark is very excited to make a return to MPR IT as a Sales & Account Manager, focusing on developing new business opportunities for MPR Technical Services, offering Fully Integrated Cabling Infrastructure Services, from conception to delivery and ongoing maintenance services.Read more
Update on MPR IT New Office
MPR IT Solutions, are getting ready to move to our new offices at the Henwood Estate, Ashford. Since our last update, work has been coming along nicely. With plans to move during late Spring we are well on the way to meeting the deadline – or maybe even earlier.
After the initial building works were completed, stage two was the installation of the Structured Cabling network. The network has been designed and installed by our own qualified and experienced team of Engineers. Installing the network early on, meant fewer obstacles to work around. The team were able to make fast headway, and the network installation is complete.
With cables in place, our ceiling has now been installed. It is now starting to look more like an office and less like a building site. The tiled ceiling means that cables are hidden nicely away. However should be ever need access to them in the future we are safe in the knowledge that we can easily reach them. We have worked with many companies over the last 10 years and it is surprising how this often not considered when designing an office and cable network.
Not content with putting in the ceiling, we have also started on the floor, in the main office and kitchen.
Finally we have also installed a screen that will have multi-uses – CCTV, Team Activity & Target updates as well as general information for the team.
We will keep you updated on our progress as it continues and starts to look more like an office. Once the floors and decoration are complete, it will soon be ready for us to install workstations and make the move.
If you would like more information on how we can assist your office move, structured cabling or CCTV installation please do not hesitate to contact our sales team on 0800 030 20 30 option 2 or email us firstname.lastname@example.orgRead more
Structured Cabling Installation at new MPR IT Offices
MPR IT are getting ready to move to our new offices on the Henwood Estate in Ashford. We aim to move to our new home in late spring/early summer and work is continuing at a rapid rate. Now that the dust is settling after the construction/demolition phase, our team of engineers can focus on the next phase – structured cabling and of course the new kitchen. (We can’t expect the team to work to their full potential without their tea and coffee fixes).
Over the years MPR IT Solutions, has been involved in a number of projects on both new builds and office moves. The experience we have accrued over the last 10 years has taught us that structured cabling is the lifeline of any new space. The network of structured cabling must be designed from the outset. Without this in place before walls, ceilings and even floors going in it can become extremely costly and can delay the build considerably.
The design of the structured cabling network will ensure that we can maximise the office space to its full potential. The engineers are now busy installing the cabling to ensure that each workstation will have the required cabling in place. Installing the structured cabling before walls, ceilings and floors are put in means that we can make any alterations easily without damage to new décor. Additionally it means that our team can work quicker without disruption as they can visually see where the structured cabling can be positioned. Just because it wont be seen once the new office is completed it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be neat and tidy. From our experience a mess of cables can only mean more problems further down the line if one happens to fail. You will see from the photos that we take pride in the neatness of our cable installations.
We are looking forward to the next stage of the build and will keep you updated on our progress. If you are considering an office move or refurbishment contact us to discuss your needs. The earlier MPR IT Solutions are involved for your IT requirements, the earlier we can start to design your network requirements before new walls, ceilings or floors are installed. Minimising time for the install and avoiding any costs that might arise from needing to make good any disruption to your new office.
by Nicki Dowsett in Access Panels, Audio Systems, broadband, cabinets, CCTV, Engineers, fibre optics, Fire Alarms, General, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, MPR IT Work, Office Move, Server cabinet, Strcutured cabling, TV Distribution, Uncategorised, Wireless networks
Exciting start to the New Year for MPR IT
Since the start of January, a lot has been happening here at MPR IT. As you will be aware it is now 10 years year since Alex, Andy and Richard started MPR IT. We are continuing to grow and strive with thanks to the continued custom from all our loyal clients. To ensure that we can continue to provide customer focused support, providing outstanding IT support and solutions, the Management team have been making lots of decisions.
Firstly, we are recruiting a number of roles for our Technical support team. Currently we are recruiting for:
1st Line Support Admin
2nd Line Support Engineer
3rd Line Support Engineer
We hope to have all these roles filled in the very near future, with some new team members already on board. As with any new member of the team, we will be ensuring they are inducted to the high standards both our customers and ourselves expect.
Next, it has become apparent that with our continued expansion we have out grown our current offices! Our second piece of exciting news is that we have now secured new premises in the Henwood Estate. With a large amount of work to carry out we hope to be able to move in time for late spring/early summer.
We are currently in the first phase which includes taking down walls and making the space more suitable for our ever-growing team.
Once the construction/demolition phase has completed, we will be entering the next phase. This is where our own expertise will be utilised and our own team will be installing following:
Structured Cabling – Copper and Fibre
TV distribution systems
Fire Alarm System
Internet Services and so much more!
As you can imagine its going to be a busy and exciting few months for us all. We will keep you all updated on the progress and of course our move date.
London Build is attended by 20,000+ contractors, architects, developers, engineers and construction professionals. The show covers the future trends, opportunities and construction projects in London and the UK.
London Build features: 240+ speakers across 8 conference theatres (Future London, London Design, BIM & Digital Construction, Sustainability, Interior & Fit-out, Innovation, Skills Hub and Fire Safety), 220+ CPD knowledge sessions, 300+ exhibitors across 9 exhibition zones and a range of exclusive free-to-attend networking events including: Constructing Excellence Breakfast, Constructionline Meet the Buyer, Women in Construction Morning Tea, Doyle Club Meeting, BIM Open Mic, an Oktoberfest beer festival, the Festival of Construction, prize giveaways, celebrity guests and much more.
Introducing MPR Technical Services
A division of MPR IT Solutions our Technical Services team work with Contractors, Project Managers and Architects. With a vast experience in working on builds of all sizes, our team have knowledge in all aspects of the project to ensure that the most suitable and cost effective network infrastructure is incorporated from the start of planning.
- Structured Cabling Fibre & Data – Installation, Termination & Certification, Brand leader accredited, certified installers.
- Systems Integration – Our tried and tested solutions work to give you peace of mind. Back of house, front of house & client experience all working seamlessly.
- MPR IT can offer complete IT Solutions – Hardware, Software, Services & On-going Support.
Are you considering an office move or expansion?
One of the most important things to consider is how to ensure minimal disruption for your staff and customers. Your business should run seamlessly and in the best scenario staff should leave work on a Friday night and return on a Monday morning at the new location and work should carry on as usual. MPR IT have supported a large number of customers over the years to ensure this is the case.
Once you have decided on a new location, we can start to work with you immediately. MPR IT can offer consultation on a multitude of areas to ensure you get the best use of space, and the office is able to cope with modern day technology. We have vast experience with structured cabling, wireless networks, server installation, point to point wireless, telephone systems and business internet connections, all of which should be considered with an office move or expansion.
Many new offices these days are open plan and so it is critical to ensure that floor points are put in strategically to make the best use of an office. When a company is considering a new office or layout the engineers at MPR can offer consultation on how best to position cabling and power points before the flooring is chosen. Even if it is a solid concrete floor we can get the project done for you, ensuring your staff are safe from trip hazards of cables across the office floor.
If you are considering an office move or expansion please contact MPR IT to discuss how to get the best from your new office space. Please also see our IT Services pages, all of which should be considered when making and office move.