Preparing to return to your work

No one really knows when the lockdown will end and when we can start preparing to return to your work. Why not try to start planning to get ready for when you are allowed back into your place of work.

Preparing to return to your work: Three things to consider

  1. Your employees. If it is a phased end to lockdown, you might have some people at work and some still working from home. It is good to form a plan now for every scenario as we might not return to the “old normal” for a long time yet.
  2. Look at your hardware and software. What’s been difficult during lockdown and caused frustration? What needs to be upgraded or changed? Identify what you need and plan for this to be implemented quickly. To help you stay efficient in case we have another lockdown.
  3. Finally, look at your data. Now is the time to check your data security has not been compromised in any way.

If you need help preparing to return to work for the “end of lockdown”, let us make it happen quickly and efficiently contact us.

The governments five key points

1. Work from home, if you can

Take reasonable steps to help people work from home. Are you unable to work from home or is work place open?  You should then go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when you will be opening.

2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions

This guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation and employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.

3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible

Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one-way walk throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.

4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk

Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.

5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

Clean office more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.

#returntowork

Preparing to return to your work

Help to control the virus. Staying alert. Follow the rules. We can continue to save lives and recover from coronavirus.

Working From Home Advice

Working from home advice given to you by your employer will keep you safe and stay focused. Record numbers of us are now working remotely from home, so allows some businesses to carry on trading. Sudden increases of home workers with the arrival of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will help business play their part in reducing the risks. The more you prepare now for the end of lockdown, the easier it will be.

Many businesses are trying to help their employees work from home, if they can. Some technology companies which produce software used by remote workers that include Zoom and Slack, have received a bump in share prices in recent days.

Make sure you have space to be productive

It’s fair to say that life has become more difficult for everyone right now because COVID-19 has changed everything. We are all struggling to adjust to new ways of living and working. As companies implement work from home policies, employees are tasked with trying to be as productive without their normal resources.

When you’re working from home, it can be all too easy to blur the lines between your work life and your personal life, because they blend into one. You are working on spreadsheets, on a conference call, cleaning the kitchen, and feeding the dog all at the same time. Seems impossible, right? That’s because it is.

Routine is an important part of work and it doesn’t become any less important because you’re working from home. So, that coffee you make at 10am every day in the office? Do it at home. The lunch you take at 1pm? Put it in your calendar. That task you unconsciously do while chatting to your colleague on a Monday morning? Keep doing it.

There are some perks to working from home (bye bye commute!), but feeling stress, boredom, anxiety and uncertainty is also completely normal. Alongside this, many of us are worried about future job prospects and trying to look after kids as well. Dedicating a room or corner of your home as workspace will enable you to be more productive.

Working from home (WFH) is not for everyone

It takes time to get used to working from home, communicating with colleagues and avoid distractions of a home environment.  With the right tools, setup, mindset and empowering good habits will come naturally with this new method of working.

So here we are six weeks into Corona lockdown and for some this will have been a first experience of WFH. Even though the talk is now all about returning to normal, we think the new normal will contain a lot of WFH for many of us. Time to work out the wrinkles and turn the emergency response into a long-term viable solution. Here are some working from home tips for getting the most out of your working day. We hope this guide will help.

Click here to download our useful guide about working from home advice.

Working from home advice

Contact us for managed IT services, network support and telecoms.

#coronavirus #wfh #workingfromhome

Networking Problem – Resolved

We are receiving reports of network issues affecting some broadband and leased line customers. Engineers are investigating and we will update this notice when we have more information.

Apologies for any disruption.

The issue was related to LINX (the London Internet Exchange), which has now been resolved and would have potentially affected several Internet providers in the UK. We are awaiting a full RFO from them to confirm the cause.

Hardware Security

Hardware security risks happen obviously. But we all trust our phones, tablets, PCs and laptops to be fundamentally secure. Built that way. Right?

Well maybe mainly hardware is secure but some recent news does beg the question as to whether we are right to assume all is well. Perhaps we are reaching the point where we need some mechanism to check and warrant and continually prove that we are secure and not open to unexpected risk. Recently we have had 2 big cases where fears have been raised but there is precious little fact to go on.

Huawei

The first is the Huawei issue. Essentially, cutting through the technobabble, this boils down to political risk. If the Chinese Government put pressure on the company would they and could they use their power as a supplier to do something we would not want. All this is masked in “are there backdoors” or exploits they could use. These are technical questions but largely irrelevant. The products could be squeaky clean today and tomorrow a new driver update might change all that. So the fundamental question is do we trust the company and can we prove nothing underhand has been done?

Some countries are blocking the use of telecoms network equipment from the Chinese firm.

Intel

The second recent issue is the Intel VISA bug. This is nothing to do with a well know credit card company by the way! The key facts here are that Intel buried a little monitoring and debugging tool into their chips so they could run internal tests. Unfortunately whether by accident or design they left it turned on in production systems. The result is that someone could plug a USB stick into many current PCs servers and laptops and gain access to just about everything. It wouldn’t be simple but it would be possible. Interestingly it is quite a hard problem to fix because, well, it is in the hardware! The only saving grace for this fiasco is that physical access is required to exploit the bug. As far as we know any way!

Can We Trust Manufacturers?

What both these cases have in common is that we live in a very complicated technical world. The average user cannot be expected to even understand the hardware security risks let alone mitigate them. So we have to rely on trust. Trust that we are safe. But trust is built on the premise that someone is checking to make sure that no-one is trying to be naughty. And that someone can put it right if abuse is found.

But is anyone actually looking?  Well, Intel  have a department whose only job is to deal with this stuff. Not sure they are sufficient protection for us given that the VISA bug slipped out. Huawei offer all the assurances in the world but Mr Trump is not falling for that one (allegedly). A cynic might suggest that this is more to do with trade wars with China than any technical concern!

But surely any manufacturer supplying the military or 5G infrastructure or your phone is just as much of a risk? Do we trust Cisco or any of the other big players? Just because the political risk is this side of the fence does that make it less risky? Just because AMD hasn’t fallen victim yet does that mean a bug isn’t there latent in the hardware.

Is there anything to be done. Well yes, its not actually that complicated to solve hardware security risks but it does require political will, technical knowledge and worldwide agreement. Does that seem likely in these fractured political times? In a word, No! So it’s time to keep your fingers crossed, backup like mad and make sure you encrypt everything that leaves your sight. Right? Ok, but then there’s the Whatsapp bug. Even encryption isn’t perfect!

Might be the right time to find a nice warm sandy beach and dig a head shaped hole and pretend nothing is wrong for a year or two! If that’s you and you need someone to keep an eye on your IT security the do contact LIS. It’s what we do!