With Boris Johnson warning of a likely second wave of COVID-19 and the UK returning to higher restrictions this week, it really is sensible for businesses to start thinking about how they will cope in the event of a second lockdown.
Over a third of small to medium sized businesses say that they fear a second wave could have a severe impact on their business, with some fearing that another lockdown would mean the end of their business.
Hopefully though, businesses will not experience anywhere near as much disruption as they did during the first UK lockdown and most are already well prepared with their policies and procedures, as well as their technology needs.
In order to minimise the risk on your business, it is best to prepare for the worst so that you are ready to adapt your business. Our technical IT experts at Custard Technical Services share a few things to consider…
Take what you have learned from the first phase of lockdown. Consider what worked, what didn’t work and what you could do differently as a business – and most importantly, if there is anything you can do right now, to ensure your business is ready for a second lockdown. This may include working with a Managed Service Provider, like Custard, who can guide you through what your businesses’ technology needs might be during a second lockdown.
If the government does decide a second lockdown must be put in place, your business will have a better understanding and know what to expect.
Tighten up your Policies
If your business has been re-open for a while it is natural for some of your strict policies and procedures to start slipping, due to your staff or visitors becoming less wary of COVID-19 and being more confident as they move around your workplace. You should ensure that policies are fit for purpose and tighten up procedures to ensure that everyone is complying.
If infection rates continue to rise in the UK, you’ll want to ensure that your employees are not affected and that you provide a secure workplace. Remote working will be essential during this time to ensure that any employees showing symptoms of coronavirus and/or have been in contact with anyone who’ve tested positive for coronavirus, are able to work from home effectively while preventing the spread of COVID-19.
If you had employees working remotely during lockdown, then now is a good time to review your policies in case you need to revert to home working during a second lockdown. Learn from the issues that arose earlier in the year and ensure you have the IT support, licenses and equipment needed, should you need to quickly send your workforce home.
From the rise in infection rate over the past few days, it seems likely that most of us will experience stricter lockdowns over the course of the autumn and winter months, either on a national or local scale. Are you and your business prepared for the possibility of a second stretch of business-wide home working over the next few months? Click here to speak with our remote IT support experts, and find out if your business is ready for remote working during a second lockdown.
Be Well Equipped
During the first lockdown, as businesses started planning for more staff to work from home, we found that there was a shortage of essential IT equipment, as well as a rise in equipment costs over the lockdown period. We saw many laptops and other equipment costs rise daily, with some laptop costs rising over £30 a day, as the need for employees to work from home became a reality.
To ensure that you have the equipment you need, at the best possible price, it will be worth looking at your stock and planning in advance for the possibility of a second lockdown – ensuring that all staff have the equipment they need to work from home comfortably. Talk to our friendly sales team here to find out more.
If your business found that they were lacking in up-to-date hardware during the first lockdown, now is the time to try and solve that problem. Stock levels on laptops as well as various other bits of hardware that turned out to be essential, such as laptops and webcams, are now getting somewhere closer to normal.
This will quickly change if there's another panic, either due to a wide-scale lockdown here in the UK, or equally in China where many of these items are sourced from. Prices are still a little above the odds for some items due to continued shortage, but it will still be a relatively small price to pay to ensure that your usual level of service and business productivity is maintained.
Something your business may want to consider to ensure that your IT equipment is always up-to-date, would be HaaS (Hardware as a Service). HaaS allows businesses to rent hardware on a subscription basis and works by providing your business with the hardware that you need and spread the cost over time.
Get Yourself Connected
A noticeable problem during the first lockdown, was internet connections at home. This included issues from lack of connectivity to home workers consistently disconnecting to the VPN to their offices. The difficulty with internet connectivity problems was that once the problem became apparent, it was difficult to do anything about it as phone companies stopped sending out engineers for health and safety reasons.
In a few cases, this is unavoidable. If you or a staff member lives in a very remote location, it may not currently be possible to get an internet connection that's robust enough for full-time home working. However, most should be able to get a solid enough internet connection these days, for the majority of the working day. If you found your connection was lacking last time round, now would be a good time to work with a Managed Service Provider, like Custard, and investigate other options.
We Need to Talk
If a second lockdown is put in place, you will need to find the best way for your employees to continue to communicate with each other and other businesses when they are working from home.
Last time, we saw the rise of software such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom as the main methods to keep everyone in the loop. It is likely we'd see a repeat of this should a second lockdown take place.
At Custard, we found that Microsoft Teams was the best solution during lockdown, due to the extensive features and updates throughout the lockdown period. Teams allows various groups of staff to be included in teams to allow text, video or audio conversations to occur between relevant groups of people. It also integrates with Microsoft 365 nicely, so any business meetings that are set up also appear in Microsoft Outlook, and other staff members can see when you're busy in a call or meeting.
Many of our customers made the switch over to Microsoft Teams during lockdown and have found that the software actually works better than their traditional method of communication. Some businesses have even converted to the Microsoft Teams Phone System as their main method of communication, replacing their current in-office phone system. Contact our team today to find out more about Microsoft Teams for business.
Keep an eye on Government Guidelines
If new guidance is put in place, then your business may need to adapt and prepare quickly. The Government have been clear that the Furlough Scheme will not be extended past October, but we wait to hear if any further assistance will be given to businesses should we experience a second wave of the virus once Autumn starts.
Make sure you keep up to date with trusted lines of information such as the BBC or the World Health Organisation. There are many articles being shared online at the moment, but it is important to check that these are up-to-date, are from a reliable source and apply to the UK before making any changes to your business.
We all are hoping that we can avoid a second wave in the UK, or if faced with a repeat of lockdown this year, that businesses are prepared and can adapt for a second lockdown.
Businesses, no matter how big or small, have been encouraged to take advantage of the remote IT support services on offer, including advice from IT support experts at a Managed Service Provider like Custard.
Custard Technical Services, based in Nottingham and working with customers across the East Midlands, offers hardware support, software support, as well as networking security solutions. Our staff have over 20 years of experience in all aspects of computers, laptops, internet networks, WiFi security, anti-virus software, and remote IT support services, to name a few.
Our Chief Technology Officer, Joe Smylie said: "We offer IT support solutions that work for you and your business, at the best price. We can help you with strategic IT planning and improve the way technology works within your business."
Our Sales and Operations Manager, Michaela Hayward said: "Not only do we strive to ensure our customers’ needs are met, but we like to get a clear vision of where their business is going so we can make sure that we’re meeting their needs, and exceeding their expectations, now and in the future.”
About Custard Technical Services
Custard are a team of technicians, engineers, salespeople and directors (but above all, we’re a bunch of geeky gurus).
We’ve got over two decades of experience in the IT industry, delivering friendly jargon-free IT support and services for businesses across the East Midlands and the UK. We are a fast-growing company that support businesses across many different sectors, from manufacturing companies to charities.
We work to create a company culture that sustains a motivated workforce and encourages personal development to ensure our team thrive. Our employees are given opportunities to develop and learn new skills, attend team building events and are awarded for their dedication.