Remote working is here to stay
The number of people working remotely has risen steadily over the past two decades and surged dramatically in recent months. Research indicates that 48% of employees will work remotely at least some of the time when social distancing measures are lifted, [CL1] compared to 30% before lockdown. The research also notes that businesses are employing more part-time and contingency workers in order to maintain flexibility as the UK enters a period of economic uncertainty. As this shift towards workforce agility continues, it’s important to ask whether your business is set up to enable staff to work securely, efficiently and productively while away from the office. Are you using the best collaboration tools – and could you make better use of your available resources?
Effective and secure collaboration – the benefits of Office 365
Learning to collaborate effectively and securely while working remotely has been one of the biggest challenges for organisations adapting to the new normal. Microsoft Office 365 was designed for this exact situation, so it’s hardly surprising there has been a big spike in its adoption and use. In March 2020, Microsoft announced that its group-collaboration platform, Microsoft Teams, (which is bundled with Office 365) grew from 32 million to 44 million daily active users in just seven days. So what is it that makes Office 365 such an effective remote collaboration tool? Here are a just few of the benefits Office 365 could bring to your business:
- Efficient remote working – your employees can access Office 365 anywhere there’s an internet connection, even on mobile devices.
- Familiarity – Office 365 is built around the tools your team already knows and loves, including PowerPoint, Word and Excel.
- Seamless collaboration – One Drive and Microsoft Teams enable staff to hold remote meetings, share files and collaborate just as they would in the office.
- Built in security – Office 365 has built-in security features that are constantly updated. You always know where your data is and who has access to it. You can also remotely wipe all data from a mobile device if it’s lost or stolen.
- Room to expand – every Office 365 user gets 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage.
- Always up to date – your team will always have the latest version of the apps, with new features being added all the time.
But equipping your team with the right tools is just the beginning. Taking time out for training will give you better return on your investment in the long run. Insight’s Smart Start programme can help everyone in your organisation work, collaborate and communicate more effectively and efficiently from home. Smart Start is a five-day programme that helps your business get up and running by configuring Microsoft Teams, and building an adoption plan to get your employees ready for effective teamwork.
Making most of your resources
For many small and medium sized businesses, supporting a more agile workforce requires investment in both hardware and software. Regardless of the size of your organisation, purchasing new devices and equipment can involve a major capital outlay. However, working with the right partner can reduce your initial expenditure, increase your value for your money, and give you better access to support when you need it. As your business grows, you might want to consider Insight’s Software Lifecycle Service to help you get the most from your software spending. The service helps you eliminate waste by ensuring you only buy what you need, save money by recycling and re-allocating unused licenses and avoid risk by addressing any issues of non-compliance.
Working with a trusted partner can also help you make more informed decisions when you’re purchasing new software or hardware. When Radnor House, a co-educational school in Kent, needed to procure a large number of devices for its students, it turned to Insight for help. Insight loaned the IT team various devices so that it could try them out before committing to purchase, and then negotiated a favourable software licensing deal with Microsoft. Insight also provides ongoing support for the school, including dealing with the supplier when hardware items need to be returned. Dan Melbourne, Head of IT at Radnor House said, “Whenever we’ve had any kind of issue, Insight just sort it out. Whatever is going on behind the scenes, I don’t have to worry about it.”
Buying re-furbished devices is another effective way to make the most of your resources – whether you’re looking to purchase laptops, mobile devices or peripherals like headsets and keyboards. The main benefit is, of course, the cost saving – often up to 50% off the retail price of the items. But there are other reasons to choose refurbished items, too.
- Reliability – all refurbished items are fully tested. Any faulty parts are replaced and then tested again so you can be sure that you are purchasing a fully tested and reliable device.
- Choice – some hardware suppliers limit or discontinue popular mobile devices or laptops when a new version is released. Many users are more familiar with the older models and buying re-furbished gives you the option to purchase these discontinued or limited items.
- Range – new laptop and mobile devices often come in a variety of options – from entry level to top of the line. Buying a re-furbished item can put the premium version within your price range.
- Risk reduction – with employees working from home, there’s an increased risk of damage to equipment – from domestic spills to children in the household dropping the devices. Buying cheaper, re-furbished equipment mitigates that risk.
- Green credentials – refurbished devices are better for the environment. Re-using devices prevents them from going into landfill and can lower your organisation’s carbon footprint.
Insight offers a range of fully-tested refurbished devices at reduced prices – from laptops and mobile devices to keyboards and headsets. As we have partnerships with all major IT suppliers, we can supply matching refurbished devices in large numbers – ensuring everyone in your organisation is working on compatible equipment.
We can help your team work productively while away from the office by giving you affordable access to the best productivity tools and devices. Insight is committed to supporting small and mid-sized businesses as they adapt to a more agile workforce and hybrid working.
For more ideas on how to get the most from your agile workforce, visit our Business Resilience page.
Research shows that even after social distancing measures are lifted, many employees will continue to work from home – at least some of the time. Small and medium businesses need to find ways to adapt to the new normal and ensure that staff can work as securely and productively as possible from home. Office 365 and offers a range of benefits that can help you get the best performance out of your agile workforce. Other ways to get more from your resources in challenging times include working with a partner to optimise your software licensing and hardware spending and equipping your team with re-furbished devices.