7-point IT check-list your business should complete in preparation for Winter

Recently we wrote about the effect that Winter weather may have on a business, and the importance of being prepared. Here is your 7-point checklist to ensure that you have everything in place should the predicted heavy snow actually arrive.

1. Unlimited data plans all round

Bad weather may mean that employees are unable to make it into the office, or find reliable WiFi access to dial-in to company systems. The UK mobile network is more than capable of supporting remote work, but it can also work out quite expensive without a decent service contract in place.

To avoid costly data charges, you must select contracts that offer unlimited data. Otherwise your staff will be limited in what they can achieve, lowering productivity. Or you will be stuck with a massive phone bill come Spring.

2. Remote phone system configuration

If your employees are unable to get into the office, there will not be anyone to answer customer phone calls. It is important that in an emergency you can not only re-route calls to employee mobiles, but that you can do so remotely.

Take the time now to learn how the changeover is performed now, otherwise you may have to fight your way through the snow to do the reconfiguration in the office. And if you use a VoIP system, ensure that your employees have downloaded and configured the associated smartphone app so that they can be contacted through the internal phone system as normal, even if they are working from home.

3. Issue employees with touch capacitive gloves

It may sound crazy, but issuing your employees with gloves is a sound business move. Workers travelling on public transport will spend time standing around waiting in the cold for buses or trains, so a pair of gloves will be a welcome way to ward off frozen fingertips.

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Terrapin

Choosing gloves with built-in capacitive finger pads will allow them to use their smartphones and tablets in the cold. This then allows them to be productive any place, any time, even in the snow. Perhaps more importantly still, a simple gesture like this shows that your business has employee welfare at heart, helping them feel like valued members of the team.

4. Key systems in the Cloud

Without some way of accessing data and systems, your employees will be unable to do anything. By far the simplest, and most cost-effective way to enable remote access, is to adopt Cloud technologies that allow you to store data and run line-of-business applications on hosted infrastructure.

Adopting Cloud software and systems provides a range of other benefits too, like protection against local disasters - melting snow flooding your office for instance.

But if you wait until the snow falls, it will already be too late.

5. Employee training

Having remote working and Cloud-enabled systems in place is only useful if staff actually know how to use them. You should ensure that staff have been fully trained in how to connect to Cloud systems, and what is expected of them when they do.

Chances are that once Cloud systems have been implemented, you will already be using them in the office. But if there are any specifics about connecting remotely, or specific login details, these will need to be circulated and tested in advance.

6. Communications chain

Travel chaos has a knock-on effect for the rest of your business. To help minimise the disruption, it helps to establish a chain of communication so that remote workers know who to call, and when. Most of the initial activity will be first thing in the morning, as employees register their absence and collect assignments to work on that day.

Once work begins, employees will be able to collaborate on projects and discuss issues using Cloud-based communications tools like Google Hangouts or Skype for Business.

7. Flexi-time provisions

If your employees cannot make it into the office, there’s a good chance that other aspects of their lives will also have been thrown into disarray. Schools may be closed, or a family emergency means that they need to go out for a few hours in the middle of the day.

As an employer you can accommodate these needs by using flexitime arrangements during the disruption. Staff should be encouraged to work as and when they can, even if that falls outside normal office hours. 

Research suggests that productivity increases significantly with the adoption of flexible working, and not just when there’s snow on the ground. You may find that allowing your employees to work flexibly using Cloud services is an innovation you choose to keep all year round.

Carefully consider your business needs

Although this checklist is relatively generic, the issues addressed are relevant to all businesses. As well implementing the above, you should also carefully audit your internal processes to determine which are essential to the functioning of the organisation, and how they can be snow-proofed.

If you need help getting ready for winter, the Kimbley IT team is always on hand to assist. Get in contact and we’ll make sure your ready before the first flake of frozen stuff hits the ground.