Working From Home – Your Cloud Hosted Office

As a result of the Coronavirus, we are being contacted by an increasing number of businesses who require advice and practical help on setting up a Cloud Hosted Office so their staff can work remotely from home, albeit with all the same communication and data sharing benefits of being in a physical office.

Most people already have the basics of a Cloud Hosted Office in place without even realising it. For example, you use email and make calls on your mobiles. It’s just taking things a stage or two further and using laptops, home computers, tablets or mobiles to set up the right services for your staff. There is no need to change anything that doesn’t need it. We’re here to provide a kind of checklist, to provide objective advice, and to fill in the gaps by helping you to set up the services you still need to make the transition from a “physical” office to a Cloud Hosted Office.

According to the Sunday Times “The crisis has made businesses rethink a working model that has existed for centuries, in which the only way to operate is to ensure employees congregate at the same location every day. Working from home is entirely possible for many people these days, keeps people closer to loved ones, eases congestion on overcrowded public transport and is good for the planet.”

Email

Most people are already using email systems that synch their mail across all their devices. In the main this means ensuring that your mailboxes are set up as IMAP accounts and not POP.

The key thing is for staff to use their work emails @ your domain, rather than their personal email addresses, so you always have a record (and can access) every email that has been sent or received.

If you need mailboxes @ yourdomain, we charge £3 plus VAT per month (or £30 plus VAT per year) per mailbox and will walk you through setting them up on your computer or other devices.

Websites

Most websites can be edited from any location using any computer simply by logging in and making changes. If you can’t do this, we can migrate your website over to our fully managed WordPress platform and either show you how to make changes in future, or manage your website for you.

We charge from £29 plus VAT for web hosting with unlimited pages and ongoing support on a common sense basis – happy to do small amends from time to time but if it is something that is going to take up a block of time it might incur extra cost.

The actual cost of migrating your website depends on the time it takes. For a small website this can vary between £350 – £500 plus VAT.

Phone System

Although you can simply redirect calls to home landlines or mobiles, the best solution is a cloud hosted VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) which has a normal switchboard number and individual extensions for individual users. Providing your staff have access to the Internet, they can take, make and redirect calls from anywhere, just as if they were in the office. In fact it is better, because even when they WOULD have been out of the office, they are still in contact.

If this is a temporary measure, you can quickly set up a new number and get your existing number to re-direct to it. If it is a permanent measure, you can migrate your number(s) with you to your cloud phone system.

Data Backup and Sharing.

One of the biggest factors of working away from your normal computer or environment is not having access to all the folders, files and general data that you have at your fingertips when sitting at your desk in the office.

This is easily solved by setting up our Cloud Hosted Backup solution, backboned by Jottacloud.

Each computer in your office is backed up in the cloud. Each member of staff can either use their laptops or home computers to login to the work computers and access folders and files, or can backup their laptops or home computers too. There is also a synch folder so that data can be shared more easily, and even Team Folders so that staff working on specific projects can store folders and files for others in the project to access.

Every time a file is added or amended, Jottacloud automatically backs it up. You don’t need to do anything.

Folders and files can easily be accessed on tablets and phones via the Jottacloud app.

Our Small Business Level Service gives you unlimited users (ie all your staff!) and up to 1TB of storage across all your users. You control who sees or has access to anything.

In addition to the benefits of working remotely, it also means that all your data from all your computers is automatically backed up anyway. And, it means your staff can access information when they need it, wherever they are, not just when they are in the office.

It costs £29 plus VAT per month, or £315 plus VAT per year. We walk you through setting up the first computer free of charge, and provide a screencast for setting up others. If you’d like us to remotely set up additional computers, we charge a one-off £25 plus VAT per computer.

Video Conferencing

If you and your staff are used to attending meetings, the best alternative is to start using video call or conferencing tools like Skype (free) or Zoom (approx. $14 pm).

In fact, even before we’d ever heard of the Corona virus, it always seemed a waste of money and time (not to mention the environmental issues involved) to travel to see someone when you could do the same business using combinations of phone, email and video calling.

Most of the time, unless the meeting involves handing over a physical product, or is the sort of project that requires on site meetings, the “meeting” can be handled online.

The added benefits are the time saved travelling to and from meetings (more time to do actual work), and the associated travelling costs. In short, you’ll quickly see how much more efficient things become.

In addition, the sort of internal meetings, or the simple act of going to the next door office to ask something, are easily done by inviting people to a Zoom audio/video meeting (people can join by computer, phone, tablet etc), or a quick Skype call.

In our experience, having worked this way for years with clients all over the world it actually increases productivity. Not even Geoff Boycott could concentrate for eight hours in a row, so if working from home encourages people to “do their eight hours” in smaller chunks throughout the day, you’ll find the quality of their work and their attention to detail improves too.

Invoicing and Getting Paid

If you still send invoices out in the post, or accept cheques as payment, there are much, much easier and more efficient ways of operating.

You can send invoices using cloud accounting services like Freshbooks or Quickbooks and if you set up a Stripe or Paypal account you can accept payments via debit or credit card as well as via bank transfer, so you don’t even need to go to a bank anymore.

There are various options. They can all be paid monthly. Set up costs are minimal, and we are currently working on putting together various packages to suit your needs and budget.

We’ve been working this way for years. Whilst it might take some getting used to, you’ll save on overheads – and the time saved travelling means staff will be fresher to do your work as a result.