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Preparing Your IT Systems For Returning To The Office

As many business begin to make plans for returning to the office, consideration must be made on preparing IT systems for coming back online. Don’t assume that staff can just walk back into the office turn on their PC and be able to start working immediately.

Here is our guide on things you should consider to ensure your IT systems are fully prepared for staff coming back in to the office.

Update and Patch Computers

If any computers or laptops have been turned off during the last few months, it is critical that you turn them on and install missed updates and security patches. You don’t want users coming into the office on Monday and having to wait 2 hours for updates to apply!

This also includes any other devices such as servers routers, firewalls, wireless access points, printers and Network Attached Storage devices. For these devices you should request your IT company handles this as you probably won’t be able to do this yourself.

IF your IT support provider provide patch management then find out when their patch window is scheduled so you can ensure machines are turned on for this.

If you don’t have any centralised patch management in place, you will have to manually check every machine.

Ensure Anti-Virus Is Fully Up To Date

As well as ensuring Windows is updated and patched, it is critical that your anti-virus software is fully updated before users start opening files and accessing the Internet.

This usually happens in the back ground without the users noticing, so it’s worth opening the software and checking for yourself – or if your IT company manage this for you – having one of the technicians check it’s all good to go.

Printers

This is an easy one to overlook! If you have printers in your office that are maintained on a service contract from a printer company, it could be worth having one of their engineers give them the once over just to make sure everything is good to go.

For any desktop or inkjet machines, you may find the print heads have gummed up. It might be a case of just having to run the cleaning program. It could end up having to replace the print head, or worse case, replace the entire device. Most desktop printers are not designed to be serviced these days, and it can often be cheaper just to replace the unit. Yes, we hate that this isn’t that great for the environment either…

Can Everyone Remember Their Passwords?

It’s only been a few months but it is surprising how many users forget their logins to systems after a 2-week holiday. It may be a good opportunity to force a password reset for users and at the same time review your password complexity requirements – consider increasing the minimum password length from 8 characters to 12 or 16 (20 would be even better).

Check Software Hasn’t Expired

Are all your software licences up to date? Check your emails for any missed renewal notices.

You don’t want to open your main line of business or industry-specific application and discover it has expired because someone in finance didn’t pay the invoice to renew it. This includes any Cloud-based services you use.

Don’t Forget Your Website

Most websites are built on WordPress these days (including this one!) Whether you have a web developer or designer that takes care of this, or you manage it yourself, it is essential that someone logs in and updates the content management system and all plugins that are installed on the site.

While you are there, check that your SSL certificate is still valid and that you have a daily website backup schedule running.

Close Down Remote Connections

If any remote connections or opened any ports on your office router and firewalls were setup to allow staff to work from home, ensure that these are closed down.

You don’t want to get caught out by leaving a remote protocol active if it is no longer needed.

Sync Mailboxes

Once computers are back up and running, fully updated and patched, open Outlook and let it sync and get up to date. This can take a while!

Transfer Data From Personal Devices

Let’s be honest – a lot of users have been using personal devices whilst working from home. This means their is a good chance of business data being stored on personal devices.

Now isn’t the time to discipline staff for doing this, after all we were all forced into the situation in the first place. Staff using personal devices has saved businesses a fortune in not having to buy them a company laptop.

Instead, have a ‘data amnesty’ and ensure staff transfer any business data created whilst working from home to your local or cloud data storage (and then make sure it is deleted from their own devices).

Consider Planning A ‘Work Readiness Day’

If you can, a good idea may be to have staff come in for a morning a before you plan to have them back to work. This allows you to work through the things in this guide, but also ensure your COVID-19 safety guidance and PPE is in place.

It also allows staff to see the changes you have made to keep them safe and become familiar with new procedures before you expect them back to work. This way, when they do come back for the first full day back working in the office, they are ready and raring to go.

Written by Mark Riddell

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