This article was published on LinkedIn – September 9, 2020

We are now in the second week of September, in a year that has presented challenges like we had never seen before. As children are going back to school, the debate continues as to whether it is safe or not to return to the office and use public transport. New articles and statistics contradicting each other appear in the media every day … The reality is that things will never be the same again. Some people have discovered the benefits and efficiencies of working at home, whilst others are anxious to return to the office environment. The future model of work will most probably be a hybrid, with some people working from home all or some of the time, others returning to the office full time. The choice is very likely to be up to the individual. The workplace will become a focus of team interaction and creativity, with Zoom and Team technology remaining integral parts of the communication process.  

One thing is sure; the future is uncertain with quarantine rules changing weekly, and the threat of a second lockdown or localised ones a stark reality.

Few businesses had anticipated and planned for the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown measures on their operations, as shown in statistics published in Raconteur at the beginning of August – see the full report here. A piece of research conducted by International SOS reveals that a staggering 82% of companies said that the country lockdown measures affected continuity of operations; 32% mentioned inadequate home-working infrastructure and 14% the lack of robust business continuity planning – a number which we suspect is higher amongst SMEs.

From our perspective, being specialists in helping SME’s with their telecoms needs, we would recommend that businesses get ready and plan for business continuity by checking these 3 key areas:

–      Adoption of VoIP ((Voice over Internet Protocol) for business communication. A key benefit of VoIP is flexibility. It enables you and your team to work remotely, increasing productivity and ensuring that no call ever gets unanswered. In uncertain times you can easily upscale or downscale, and should you move your premises, you will be able to keep the same telephone number.

 –      Robust broadband with adequate bandwidth to ensure the quality of your VoIP calls and to enable working from home without disruption. We have all been on recent Zoom calls where people ‘froze’ or had to abandon the call due to poor internet connectivity (in addition to antiquated laptops not supporting the Zoom technology!).

 –      Efficient Remote Working Solutions to empower you and your staff to be able to work wherever you are with total flexibility – home or office, in the UK or quarantined somewhere…. We recommend systems that allow you to unify real-time tools such as Instant Messaging, VOIP Phone Systems and Video Conferencing, with non real-time tools like Email, Integrated Voicemail and SMS. These tools should be combined through one simple interface, accessible on many different devices, in many different locations – all delivered through the internet.

 This is only one part of your business continuity plans, alongside crisis management procedures; employee health, safety and wellbeing; review of work-from-home policies; supply chain provision and more.

 The statistics published in the Raconteur report reveal that 60% of companies place updating business continuity plans and protocols as steps they are planning to implement as they transition back to on-site work.

Make sure you are one of them, and communication tools feature high on your list as it is essential to keep in touch with staff, customers and suppliers in a crisis.

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