Although the current pandemic has forced a large amount of the country to work from home, there are many unexpected benefits to remote working that may interest you.

First, especially with the current pandemic, working from home means helping to protect your colleagues, family, and friends. Remote working also means employees can avoid a stressful commute to work, which is good for the environment and staff mental health. In some cases, staff find working from home better because there are not only fewer distractions, but it is more convenient for staff who may have a lot to do at home. Business owners, who might be interrupted frequently during the day with unnecessary questions, may also find remote work appealing due to having fewer interruptions.

Remote working is not a possibility for all industries. However, for those who work in an office-based environment, it may be the perfect solution.

The Statistics

Recent studies have shown that remote working can increase workforce productivity by more than 13% compared to in an office environment. One such study found that 77% of employees felt more productive when they were allowed to work remotely, with a further 30% stating that they can do more in a shorter amount of time while working from home as opposed to in the office. (Robert Half)

It has also been shown that 76% of people avoid the office entirely when they need to concentrate on a project, due to there being too many distractions. (Atlassian)

Additionally, when employers introduce flexible working hours, they are also free to introduce agile working. This means employers can stagger their employees’ hours and alternate their shift patterns, thereby becoming more available to customers, even outside of business hours.

A recent Labour Force Survey from Health and Safety Executive found that over a 12-month period, over 17 million cumulative workdays were lost due to mental health issues, such as stress, depression, or anxiety. It was determined that these issues were caused, or worsened, by work and that both working from home and having flexible hours are essential to improving employee wellbeing.

A report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that 20% of working people feel stressed by family relationships and that 19% are stressed by the conflict between work and family life. In contrast to this, 54% of employees felt that flexible working was a better way for them to achieve a better work-life balance.

Working remotely has been shown to allow more flexibility for employees to enjoy time with their families, and therefore drastically lowering the amount of stress, burnout, or dissatisfaction they feel. It also allows for employees to achieve better mental and physical wellbeing whilst working remotely, due to not having to make a long journey to work and being able to be more relaxed with their schedule.

In addition to there being many benefits for employees, there are also benefits for the businesses themselves. Business leaders are beginning to recognise the benefits of remote working, with 45% of office-based businesses offering remote working and flexible hours as standard, and a further 54% planning to allow more flexibility in the future.

Furthermore, a study by Global Workplace Analytics has found that 95% of employers have noticed an improvement in employee retention rates since they have implemented the ability for their employees to have more flexible hours and to work from home.

 

How Can We Make It Easier?

The transition from office-based work, working from home and hybrid solutions can be tough, but at Flyford Connect we can help make the process easier, smoother and more secure.

We have 2 main solutions that can be used by most businesses. These are:

  • Microsoft 365 (MS 365) Implementation + Hosted Telephone System
  • Windows Virtual Desktop + Hosted Telephone System

 

Microsoft 365 Implementation + Hosted Telephone System

Ideal for most SMB’s (small to medium-sized businesses), Microsoft 365 includes the standard desktop applications that most people are accustomed to using, such as Word, Excel and Outlook. But MS 365 has much more to offer as it is a cloud-based suite of applications that integrates all of Microsoft’s existing online applications into a cloud service.

Microsoft 365 offer many useful programs and services that include, but are not limited to:

  • Microsoft Word – Microsoft Word’s basic function is to create text documents. Within the program itself, it provides the user with a multitude of options for creating, editing and formatting the documents they make.
  • Microsoft Excel – Excel at its core is spreadsheet software that is typically used to store and sort data, produce graphs and charts, and perform financial analysis.
  • Microsoft Outlook – Typically used to send and receive emails, Outlook can also be used to manage the user’s contacts and calendar.
  • Exchange Online – Exchange Online is a hosted messaging solution that delivers email, calendar, contacts, and tasks from PCs, the web, and mobile devices.
  • Microsoft Teams – Microsoft Teams enables users to collaborate in real-time on work files that are stored on SharePoint, while also giving them the ability to chat or video conference with their peers.
  • SharePoint Online – SharePoint empowers teamwork with dynamic and productive team sites for every project team, department, and division. Users can share files, data, news, and resources using this software.
  • PowerApps – This service is an application creator that enables users to build mobile and web-based forms and apps with minimal, if any, code.
  • Power Automate – Power Automate is a process and task automation tool that helps connect different applications and services together.

 

The services and programs available in your Microsoft 365 subscription depends on your requirements. We can help you to decide which plan is suitable for you and your business. The Microsoft 365 plans can be mixed and matched, so if some services aren’t required for some users, you don’t pay for them. The most popular plans for SMB’s are:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic (formerly Office 365 Business Essentials)
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard (formerly Office 365 Business Premium)
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium (formerly Microsoft 365 Business)
  • Microsoft 365 Apps

Advantages to using MS 365

  • Any files that you save in OneDrive are securely saved in the Cloud, which means that you can access your files from mobile apps, a web browser or a computer.
  • Your files can be shared with other users internally or externally to your business.
  • You can collaborate on your shared files/projects in real-time with other users.
  • You can chat and video call with internal and external peers.
  • You are able to create low code mobile applications.
  • Tasks and processes can be automated.
  • You can enjoy top-grade security that is trusted by governments and enterprises.

Coupled with a Hosted Telephone System, MS 365 is a great solution for the majority of small to medium-sized businesses. It’s the go-to solution that replaced Small Business Servers in 2012.

More information on Microsoft 365 can be found on our MS 365 page and Microsoft’s official website.

 

Windows Virtual Desktop

Microsoft 365 offers vital features that most businesses will need for working from home. Where the use of third-party programs is required, a Full Remote Desktop Experience could be the solution. Windows Virtual Desktop may be a name that not many people have heard of, but it is incredibly useful for working on the go when you are away from the office.

Windows Virtual Desktop is a technology that enables users to access their work desktop- and desktop applications- from practically anywhere, providing you have an Internet connection. This means that no matter whether the user is on a tablet, mobile phone or computer, they have secure access to their work environment. The user can continue working as if they were on their work computer at the office. We have clients that access their own work desktop via someone else’s computer since the service is securely accessible via a web browser.

One of the main benefits of WVD is that it can run on even the most basic of computers. This is because the processing power needed to run the software is taken care of on the WVD, not the device you are using to connect to it. Even if your office works with older-model computers that are slow, they could easily be repurposed to connect to a Windows Virtual Desktop. The user’s experience of performance will be increased, and the company will save on any capital expenditure for new hardware.

Windows Virtual Desktop is by design very secure, due to Multifactor Authentication and Azure Active Directory Conditional Access (which is used to authenticate and authorise users) being used during the sign-in process. Because of these added security measures, only authorised personnel can access the company’s directory and desktops.

Windows Virtual Desktop Testimonial

“We are using WVD, and we do love it. It makes life so much easier. We can work from home whenever we want and know we still have access to all the information we need. I’m not trying to sort out which work to take with me as I know it’s all there easily accessible.

I also find it really helpful when I got to clients for meetings, I can update things while at the clients by logging in to the WVD from my laptop, and know it’s all sorted, and I don’t have a load of work to do when I get back.

We can have staff isolating yet still working from their home computers and we know when they have done a job it can get passed on to the next person straight away. As the software we use is specialist we couldn’t have it on everyone’s home laptops so they would be limited in what work they could do, and we would have to wait for them to come back into the office and update the information on the software before we could do the next steps. With Windows Virtual Desktop, we don’t have to wait.”

-Steph, Mill Accountancy

 

Hosted Telephone System

Hosted Telephony is where your phone system is hosted in the cloud, rather than in your office. It supports traditional functionality such as transferring calls, call diversion and can handle more enhanced collaboration functionality such as integration into MS 365.

There are several methods to using a hosted phone system, of which the most common ways are:

  • Having a desk phone – A traditional looking phone that sits on your desk. Wireless DECT phones are also available.
  • Using a mobile App – Installing an app on a mobile phone to make and receive calls (as well as video calls).
  • Using a computer app – Installing an app on your computer so that you can make and receive calls via the inbuilt speaker and microphone or by using a suitable headset.

Hosted Telephone Systems are ideal for small and large businesses alike, due to how easy both receiving and making business calls are and how scalable they are compared to traditional phone systems.

 

Mixing it up

You might have identified that these two solutions could be used together. A typical scenario for this would be when several office-based staff have the option of working via WVD, but tend to work from the office using a traditional desktop computer or laptop. Users that are required to be out of the office a lot, however, would access their desktop environment primarily through WVD. Adding a Hosted Telephone System into the mix creates an almost perfect Hybrid working environment.

 

Conclusion

These solutions work perfectly for most businesses, but it is important to have a detailed audit to ensure that it is the most suitable solution for your business needs. If you would like to know more about how we can help to optimise your business, then we are more than happy for you to reach out so that we can arrange an initial chat to discuss your business requirements and provide advice.

You can contact us through the details listed below:

01302 986589

info@flyfordconnect.co.uk

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/philfarey