Updates

Pros and Cons of Agile Working


The move towards ‘agile working’ is being adopted by many organisations to retain staff and increase productivity, what are the pros and cons?

guy on call conferencing

We understand agile working can be difficult to implement but it’s not impossible. I’m sitting here writing this from my home office, normally I’m working part-time, remotely from my parents’ home. They live over an hour away, but they get to look after my 18 month old son every week and are very happy about this, and my little one is too! If it wasn’t for agile working, I’d have to pay for extra childcare. Logistically getting him to my parents and then myself to the office is impossible.

We know that commuting is getting worse too, people are travelling further. 45% of people now spend over an hour commuting to their jobs. 70% of people report that ‘flexible working options’ actually make a job more attractive (powwownow.co.uk, 2017). I know this is true for me and I am experiencing the benefits too! The millennial generation are also keen to work more flexibly and to support their well-being whilst developing and continuing their careers.

Most organisations are not fully ‘agile’. They implement some strategies rather than the whole agile working package. For example, many companies provide ‘hot-desking’ to reduce office space but do not always supply all of the technology necessary to work independently.

Be clear about business objectives and what you want to achieve by implementing agile working. There will be costs and resources involved so they need to be clear on what these are before you go ahead. For example, will all roles be agile? What are the constraints and what mobile technology will you provide for staff?

Lead by Example, leaders are great role models and when implementing agile working it is good to show that initiatives such as ‘hot-desking’ are for everyone. Other initiatives such as not emailing after hours can also support a culture of ‘switching off’.

Remote Working
Many organisations support home working or working away from the office at multiple locations. Whilst this can work well to manage work life balance and caring responsibilities, employees can become invisible and it is important that line managers stay in touch with regular contact to check on well-being and work objectives.

Sharing Work Space/Hot-desking
Can work well for co-working where colleagues can share ideas and interact. However, not all colleagues will embrace the change and some may feel a loss of anchor to their workplace, thus reducing productivity. It is very important to consider individual needs and where hot-desking does not work, to provide appropriate alternative facilities.

Agile working – Hot-desking, remote working, flexible working, co-working, working from mobile devices on the road between appointments – it can increase productivity and well-being.

Both the pros and the cons should be considered when implementing for it to be fully effective. Being equipped is KEY.

If you would like to discuss some Communication Technologies that can help your organisation with agile working please contact us today.

New Mobile Limit Legislation


On 1st October 2018, OFCOM enforced a new legislation using their guidelines you can read these in full here.

Its to protect consumers against high bills (bill shock). The legislation is to ensure that Providers of mobile phone services do not enter into a contract unless the customer has been given an opportunity to specify a bill limit.

Providers should have adequate checks and processes in place to ensure that this is fully carried out as of 1st October 2018.

Notifications must be sent out to customers when they are coming close to their selected limit and again once the limit has been reached. Providers are now prohibited from charging beyond the set limit if the customer is not informed or the service restricted in time.

This is a providers responsibly, not yours as a consumer. The good news is that we are ahead of the game. NT Voice & Data have been providing the option for an overall spend limit for the last few years or so. Protecting our customers from bill shock is very important to us as we understand how frustrating it is to be lumbered with large bills after a trip or excessive unintended usage. This new legislation is very important to us and we are complying with this for our customers benefit.

The default limit usually stands at around £200 per number however this can be amended to suit the needs of your business.

We urge our customers to contact one of our experienced team members for further advice on this and to also check what limit is set in place for you & amend if necessary.

Cyber-Criminals – The 2018 Challenge


 

Cyber-Security

Last year in 2017, Ransomware attacks were used by cyber-criminals to compromise many businesses, with success.

Ransomware A type of malicious soft

ware. It is designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

This was, in the past, aimed at individuals at home, however is now more than ever being targeted at businesses & larger organisations. Because of the success, cyber-criminals are now looking at other ways to secure their pay-outs.

Phishing emails are from criminals pretending to be from reputable companies. In order to gain personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers or to place orders causing great loss to the company, they send out attachments and links.

Nowadays, it doesn’t even matter if you know who its from. Cyber-criminals are impersonating banks, reputable organisations and even your friends. If the attachment looks unusual or the link looks funny…it probably is!

Cyber-Criminal ready to attack

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Back in 2016 there was a piece of Malware called Mirai. This basically bypassed devices with security by using ones instead that have default username and passwords. (Think standard home routers, baby monitors, IP Cameras, TV’s, home appliances etc.) Once infected, the device is “available” for remote access & control by hackers.

So this year & next, businesses must ensure that the basics are covered. Data management, protection and patching are good places to start. (E.g. Create alerts for anonymous new users, changes in device performance, and regularly auditing passwords)

Its not all doom & gloom…

Businesses must exploit the advantage that they have in knowing what their data network looks like, and use security analytics to spot any anomalies fast.

It’s also vital not to allow internet of things (IoT) devices to simply connect to your network without proper security – Vehicles, wearable’s, health appliances, heating & cooling systems etc.

Protect your business with multiple levels & make cure colleagues and friends are aware of the impact once click can cause. Contact your IT company to find out how you are protected.

Have you thought about switching before the big switch off?


Have you thought about switching before the big switch off?

BT are due to switch off PSTN & ISDN in 2025, we are here to help you switch now in plenty of time… before time runs out.

As of early 2017 there were over 2 million businesses still with an ISDN connection in the UK, this stat came from OFCOM directly. A 2017 survey has also shown that a quarter of the UK’s businesses are still unaware that the switch off is taking place.

What is PSTN and ISDN?

  • PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) is the landline telephone system that we all know & love. It was originally set up for analogue voice only, and became the most reliable method of making calls and the main carrier for internet activity. Remember those times when you couldn’t use the phone when you wanted to go online?
  • ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) then came along, allowing the digital transmission of voice, video and other services simultaneously, using the traditional PSTN network.

Why are they being phased out?

 

Unfortunately these systems are now rapidly becoming out of date, as are the associated maintenance and running costs. Despite having been updated over the years, these lines are still essentially the same in setup and design as the original phone lines of the 1880s – yes, I had to read that twice too! There is a really good article about the history of the telephone here. With all other fields of technology advancing at light speed around us, it makes sense that our telecoms systems are also updated.

 

What is SIP and VoIP?

  • SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is a protocol used in VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), and allows people to make voice and video calls on a global scale using computer and mobile devices with an Internet connection.
  • The biggest and most noticeable difference between traditional ISDN and SIP networks for business owners is the cost,  These VoIP voice communication systems are also often referred to as cloud-based telephony systems.

Existing Businesses: Next Steps

 

If you’re among the 2 million businesses that still have an ISDN connection, you should start thinking about switching to cloud-based telephony sooner rather than later;

  • Don’t renew your contracts without proper research just for an easy life. Go to your supplier and get your contract end dates. This gives you your own deadline to work towards and get into the cloud mind set. 2025 may seem like a long way off but do you remember Captain America, The Help, Thor, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2? These were all released 7 years ago…
  • As soon as you are released from your current contracts, get fully switching to the cloud based telephone systems – This will save you a great deal of money and time in the long run
  • Think about upping your internet speed & quality, you cant go cloud unless you have a strong internet access. Think about this if you are renting offices in rural areas where development is low. Maybe change is on the horizon.
  • Don’t keep buying outdated hardware, can you manage setting up new requirements on cloud based systems while running this alongside the old system for a time until contracts are up?

We offer a range of services to help make the transition as pain free as possible & we would be more than happy to come to your business and walk you through changes you can make now.

The Impact of Millennial’s in the workplace


Millennial’s are used to  lightning fast communication with skills honed in social media. So what will this demand for collaboration and instant communication have on work environments?

By 2020 millennial’s will make up 50% of the work force in the UK and are set to bring about massive change to the status quo of communications within the workplace. Today’s new workers were raised alongside technology and rely on it for almost all elements of their daily lives, from social media to banking.

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Tips for small businesses in the digital age


,lSmall businesses are expected to do it all on a shoe string budget and limited staff whilst still providing the same service as a larger company. Thanks to digital advancements it’s easier than ever for businesses to present a professional image and provide services to rival much larger companies. Here are some tips to make your work life a little easier and take advantage of the technology around us.

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The Future of data usage – Where will 5G take us?


Reliance on data has led to usage increasing across public and business sectors year on year. For example, mobile data usage more than doubles each year, with a current monthly average usage of 2.7GB with this figure set to rise to 18gb by 2021. Both home and business users data usage is drastically increasing due to improved speeds rolling out across the UK. The average broadband speed is now 46mbps and is increasing 25% each year. Data hungry machines and work practices are here to stay so what can 5G bring to businesses when roll out starts in 2020?

Spectrum auctions are already underway for the beginning of the 5G rollout, due to start in 2020, with more than 41million 5G connections expected by 2024. IoT (Internet of things) is heavily associated with the rollout and promises improved connectivity for smart homes/offices to intelligent cars and everything in between.

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Artificial Intelligence in telecoms


 

The influence of AI within our daily lives is on the rise, with smart devices like Amazon Echo and applications through our smartphones. The workplace is no exception to this! Everything from social media algorithms learning our habits to chat bots and intelligent attendants when calling banks and businesses are driven by AI. Recently Google unveiled its new project ‘Duplex’ which was able to accurately mimic human speech so that callers weren’t even aware they weren’t talking to a human being, check out the demo here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd1mEm2Fy08.

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