What we’ve learned during lockdown: You don’t need four walls, desks and phones, or a VPN to run a successful business

With Melbourne enduring a strict second lockdown, it’s easy to feel like you’re living a real-life version of Groundhog Day. However, amidst the doom and gloom, there have been some positive lessons learned during 2020, especially for businesses.  

As an IT managed service provider based in Melbourne, Retrac has worked with a variety of customers facing different challenges. Yet at the heart of most of these challenges is a single commonality: aging and inflexible technology By breaking this down we can identify why Microsoft’s Modern Workplace solutions are better for businesses and should be a consideration for futureproofing any organisation.  

So, without further ado, here the five key lessons we have learned during lockdown. 

1. Be flexible. In order to be truly flexible, you need to ensure you have the right systems and IT in place. Old technology can tie you down and, even if your intentions are to be flexible, can limit your ability to be nimble. During lockdown, businesses with on-premises and server-based solutions couldn’t adapt as they needed. Their peers with modern workplace solutions however could adapt quickly and shift to a work from home model with no issue. 

2. Choose the right hardware. It’s no good having a flexible, modern workplace solution if your hardware hinders your mobility. You need staff to have equipment that they can pick up and move with ease. Instead of opting for desktop computers, choose laptops with docks & additional monitors. However, as an interim solution, if you are in the Cloud and have the correct security configuration in place, you can consider a BYO device policy.  The only watch-out with this solution is that staff will be limited to web-based apps. The long-term goal should still be to provide laptops, where staff can pick up and work from anywhere with an internet connection.  

3. Connectivity. Speaking of internet connection, remember that staff working remotely won’t have the same level of connectivity that they have in an office. You can’t expect everyone to have a perfect home internet solution. Likewise, you can’t let this be a frustration – remember your staff are trying their best! In order to juggle staff home internet and find quick solutions, invest in a managed service provider who will aid and advise on a per user basis. In Retrac’s case, this has involved establishing an NBN connection and sending out 4G hotspots to struggling staff.  

4. Strengthen your security. The hackers of the world were quick to take advantage of the pandemic. Coupling this with the revelation that Australia is the equal sixth in the world as a target for “significant” cyber-attacks, it is obvious why you need to focus on security. There has recently been an increase in businesses receiving scam healthcare emails carrying malware, leading to security breaches if not handled with care Microsoft’s security capabilities, which feature in our Complete Cloud Security Bundle, include AI that goes beyond generic spam filtering to detect phishing attempts and unwanted communications. 

5. Think about voice. As with traditional desktops, desk phones are inflexible and can’t be used remotely. Whilst diverting calls to mobiles can seem like a quick fix, in reality it is messy and hard to manage. During lockdown, businesses have embraced Teams Calling with many replacing their on-premises solutions with the modern workplace option. As with Lesson #2, replacing your telephony hardware is easy and implementing Teams Calling is a quick and seamless process that provides increased flexibility and control to staff.  

The combined capabilities of modern workplace technology mean that really, the office as we know it has changed forever. Aside from increased accessibility, mobility and security, modern workplace solutions also provide significant cost efficiencies to businesses. 

Even if you plan to return to the office post-pandemic, we have witnessed that people work better in a Complete Cloud model, wherever they are based.  

The death of the VPN and terminal server  

Whilst VPNs and terminal servers have been helpful in the past, the reality now is that if you have the right Cloud solution, there will be nothing to VPN into. During the first lockdown, Retrac received an influx of customers struggling with on-premises solutions like Team Viewer and VPNs. 

The end user frustrations caused by these solutions massively outweigh any benefit they once offered. It’s time to say goodbye.  

What’s next?  

We’re optimistic this is the only pandemic we’ll experience but we really have no idea what 2021 holds. What we do know is that we can futureproof our organisations and take heed of the lessons learned in 2020. To find out more about Cloud solutions and how to improve your business IT, contact Retrac today.